It’s here, it’s finally here, that’s what I’m sure many people are saying as we get yet another installment in the Hunger Games series. Yes the blockbuster hit this weekend is Mocking Jay Part 1, a movie that is following the trend of dragging a series out for more money. Already grossing $55 million on day 1, Jennifer Lawrence is leading the cast to what is sure to be another top movie of the week. However, Hunger Games predecessors have mixed results in quality, and leaves one to question… Is this movie worth a trip to theater? Well in a new format, let’s dive into my review of Mocking Jay Part 1.
Plot: Continuing from the last film, Katniss has been drafted into the political campaign of the supposedly lost District 13. In an attempt to motivate the people to rebel against the corrupt Capitol, Katniss becomes the symbol of the movement to bring justice. Like always though, the emotional teenager has issues with authority, and quickly becomes annoyed at her new allies. When fellow contestant Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) is found to be alive, all hell breaks loose and a new game starts in the beginning of the final chapter.
Likes: If you’re like me, then you were not the biggest fan of the last book, with the rushed plot line, the behind the scenes of war approach, and the constant complaining of Katniss. Well luckily the relentless complaining is at a minimum in the film. No longer are we forced to relive the memories of her and Peeta, nor get caught in paragraphs of details about choosing between this version of Edward and Jacob. Instead this film brings up those issues, while actually continuing the plot and pushing on with the story. Yes Katniss is still an emotional time bomb who can’t seem to say anything without yelling in defense, but I can live with that. Regardless, the emotional turmoil and hate she feels for… well pretty much everything, is still there but not as exaggerated. In addition, the book gave us pretty much next to nothing on the battles, with the exception of the few scenes Katniss is end. When I was reading the book, all I could say was “What the heck Collins, this book is boring as hell. What are the people doing to the capital in response to all this propaganda? Good news, we get to see it in this film. Albeit not as action packed as previous installments, we finally get to see some of the sabotage and attacks on Snow’s empire. In a rather sullen manner, these short glimpses into the district’s fights are simplistic and over in a matter of minutes. Still a little is better than nothing, and these shots show promise that part 2 will have the much awaited bite.
Other likes include bringing Effie back into the picture, the once clandestine stylist was pretty absent in the novel despite being a rather important piece to Katniss’ team. Not the case in this film, and Elizabeth Banks brings her wonderful talents to the screen as she transitions from fancy, to well dirt poor rags. Julianne Moore as well makes a good Coin, and the directors have managed to trim back the stubborn witch she was in the book. The power struggle is still maintained mind you, but it’s not quite the catfight you remember. As for Lawrence, fans will rejoice as she steps back into the hard-edged, takes no crap, strong woman role that many flock too. Albeit I do laugh at her overly dramatic speeches and rants, but still she is the role model that many make her out to be.
Dislikes: Despite the improvements to the story, Mockingjay Part 1 is still a tale that lacks the drive of the previous films. Most of the scenes are vary laid back, with only tension building when the pathetic Peeta makes an onscreen appearance. This is supposedly a character-building book, but all we get is a heated grudge match between Snow and Katniss that is reminiscent of soap opera squabble. Much like our own government, nothing seems to get done in this movie other than making other people look good and other’s bad. The attempts to alleviate this boredom are only slightly better, the rescue scene in particular dull and stupid. Many are going to say it was all explained in the final moments of the movie. I reply saying, it was a crappy excuse that once again illustrates how unreliable antagonists can be. Apparently the police can easily overtake a district, but their deaf and uncoordinated when it comes to defending valuable assets.
Apparently you can get away with this though by putting in a song by Jennifer Lawrence, which will surely become a top hit on ITunes, and wrap it up in more love story. For me though, this lackluster support didn’t put me on edge like it did others, though I pray this is being used as the set up. Even the love story was a little gipped, as the struggle to choose, was replaced with Katniss dead set on one of them. I am a robot when it comes to love scenes though, but this did not feel like a Hunger Games film to me.
Final thoughts: The long awaited continuation of the saga is unfortunately not what I had hoped it would be. Sure they managed to deviate from the poorer aspects of the third book, but there is still enough of the boring framework in there to dilute the excitement. Lawrence and the crew do their best, but they aren’t enough for me to praise this film. There are plenty of theater worthy aspects to bring you into the mix, all in surround sound, HD goodness. This movie is going to be a big success regardless, but it doesn’t live up to the hype for me.
My scores for this film are:
Movie Overall: 7.0