Relying too much on the big thrills of its prequel, Mockingjay Pt 1 finds it so hard to make the transition from battle royale genre to political friction smooth. There’s not much things happened ’cause the underwhelming Mockingjay saves too many for its finale.
“If we burn, you burn with us!” Katniss threatens The Capitol.
READ THIS REVIEW IN:
Following the immense “breaking the fourth wall” cliffhanger in the end of Catching Fire, the penultimate chapter of The Hunger Games series, Mockingjay Pt. 1 gets its ground. While the underlying reason to split the finale into two parts (following Harry Potter and Twilight series, and will likely be followed by other YA franchise) is questionable; the effect is far more perilous than expected. After a groundbreaking opening and an intriguing second movie, Mockingjay 1—although still bears the heart of the franchise—turns out becoming a waste of opportunity, an underwhelming penult trying to clear the ground for the finale.
We don’t see many things happen in Mockingjay 1; just some PTSD and minor rebellion threats (that we have seen before). Soon after Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) ended the game forever in Catching Fire, it’s revealed that she moves to the forgotten District 13, in which her trusted allies make common cause with President Alma Coin (Julliane Moore) to side against the Capitol. Later, Katniss, now mentally unstable, accepts her role as The Mockingjay, spreading her wings and ignites the fire of rebellion, while trying to save Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). And… THAT’S ALL.
Seemingly, Mockingjay 1 serves as a transitional chapter—to escalate the finale next year—which is seasoned with strong political turns and larger top casts. However, this chapter finds it so hard to balance the transition, from the previous two sequels’ typical battle-royale action genre into another genre that highlights political frictions, with its own identity. The plot seems so dragging and quite loose in some scenes, which look like repetitions of similar scenes (the sequences are predictable: dining table – shooting movie – back to HQ – threats to/from Capitol – repeat). Without powerful doses of action, Mockingjay 1 loses its identity as a chapter of THG.
What makes it still interesting, of course, is solid performances from the grand casts. Some new characters are introduced, although their roles are not very significant yet; at least, they give Mockingjay 1 new breath. Julliane Moore, perhaps, is a little bit out-of-herself, but her President Coin gives this franchise a completely new direction. Along with her is Natalie Dormer, who strips off her Game of Thrones tunic to portray Cressida, a badass ex-military leader from Capitol. Some recurring casts led by J-Law and PSH still brings the heart from the prequels; especially the late PSH in one of, possibly, most entertaining performance before his death. Without particular actions, only these solid performances set the drama in Panem alive.
Mockingjay 1 loses too many angle, although it successfully serves as a transitional panel to a more badass finale in Mockingjay 2. Almost no twists, turns, or intrigues in this chapter, following the great revelation in the beginning. The underwhelming Mockingjay saves too many for its finale—that, no doubt, should be great, otherwise, this one will just be a waste of time.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Pt 1 (2014)
Adaptation, Adventure, Sci-Fi Directed by: Francis Lawrence Written by: Danny Strong, Peter Craig based on novel by Suzanne Collins Starred by: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Julliane Moore, Stanley Tucci, Natalie Dormer, Sam Clafin Running Time: 123 mins Rated PG-13