‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1’ Review: Smart and Solid

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 needs no introduction, the third film, and what should be the final film in the Hunger Games franchise, hit theaters this weekend. For fans skeptical of Hollywood’s decision to break the last book into two films, don’t be too concerned – it’s just following the trends. Harry Potter did it. Twilight did it. Even TV does it… Breaking Bad and Mad Men. They know we’ll pay, so they’re going to milk this series for all they can. As much as we hate it, it’s smart for Hollywood to do.

That being said, how does Mockingjay Part 1 live up to fan expectations? This fan enjoyed it.

While there is less action than the previous films, what is there is solid. The film picks up shortly after the end of Catching Fire. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) has been rescued from the games by a group of rebels and now seems to be suffering from PTSD in an a massive underground bunker of District 13. President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) and Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) decide that it’s time to reveal to Katniss what happened to her home district in an attempt to lure her into being the face of their rebellion.

Between seeing what happened to her home and seeing what happened to a hospital in a second district they visited, Katniss is completely on-board with being the President Coin’s “Mockingjay.” Katniss does have a few requests however. She wants Peeta (who we discover is alive and seems to be joining the Capital’s side) to be rescued and given a pardon.

While Peeta is in the Capital, the other one-third of the love triangle is staying close to Katniss’ side – Gale (Liam Hemsworth) gets much more screen time in this film. He’s clearly emotionally damaged as well, but he doesn’t want to get in the way of Katniss’ feelings for Peeta. However, the love story is far from the focus here as politics and the corruption are well explored, making the exposition climax in a cliffhanger that you now is coming but aren’t ready for. But everything up until the film does end will have you satisfied.

There are many solid performances, especially by Lawrence who is the perfect Katniss. It’s also a little eerie to see Philip Seymour Hoffman in a number of scenes – especially ones in which he speaks of death. There’s a nice dedication to him at the end of the film, but fans, myself included, are still curious as to how the next film will handle the fact that he did not finish filming all of Heavensbee’s scenes before he passed. We had heard talk of CGI, but that has since been dismissed.

Overall, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is a strong addition to the franchise – even though it is the weakest of the films so far. While I wish that they hadn’t split it up, I do understand the business behind it, and I certainly still enjoyed the film.

Grade: B


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