Director: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Julianne Moore
Release Date (US): 21st November, 2014
Company: Lionsgate Entertainment
“Miss Everdeen, it is the things we love most that destroy us.” – President Snow
Mockingjay – Part 1 is the third and penultimate entry in the incredibly popular (and lucrative) Hunger Games franchise. Starring Jennifer Lawrence (X-Men: Days Of Future Past) as the story’s protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, we return to the series to find Panem on the brink of civil war between the oppressive Capitol and the Districts that serve it. Forced into becoming the ‘Mockingjay’ – symbol of the rising revolution – Katniss is torn between fighting to restore justice, or saving her loved ones held captive by those in power.
Like it’s two predecessors, Mockingjay – Part 1 is another multi-layered and thought-provoking blockbuster, once again boasting some intriguing social commentary. It’s characters are unique (not only in name), while the world of the Capitol and the Districts is a magnificently translated to screen – never in any way feeling phoney or incomplete. The wide-berth of characters are handled effectively, playing off one another very well.
The big criticism surrounding this sequel so far is that it’s a bit slow. While this claim is not unfounded, it’s effect has so-far been exaggerated somewhat by the harsher critics. As the first instalment in a (arguably unnecessary) two-part finale, it was always going to suffer from filler material and dead weight, but the movie gets its worst period out of the way after the first 30 minutes. From then on, it plays out as a tense build-up towards what is ultimately a fantastic finale. However, this blockbuster is still lacking in action scenes.
“I never wanted any of this, I never wanted to be in the Games, I just wanted to save my sister and keep Peeta alive.” – Katniss Everdeen
So far, the acting has been one of The Hunger Games franchise’s greatest assets – and it is the same case here again. Jennifer Lawrence continues her run of strong leading performances, but Katniss is perhaps not given enough to do, and is often a little too reliant on stoic staring and emotional monologues. Josh Hutcherson’s (Bridge To Terabithia)’s Peeta Malark, on the other hand, greatly benefits from his limited screen time – stealing all of the best scenes with his best performance in the series so far.
The supporting cast is as solid as ever – with franchise veterans Woody Harrelson (True Detective), Elizabeth Banks (Scrubs) and the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman (Capote) all on top form, while Julianne Moore (Carrie) and Natalie Dormer (Game Of Thrones) are welcome additions to the series. Liam Hemsworth (Paranoia) gets a lot more focus, but it’s not necessarily to the film’s benefit. In the end, it’s Sam Claflin (On StrangerTides)’s humble performance as the damaged Finnick that stands out amongst the rest.
Direction & Tone
After wowing both critics and audiences with the excellent Catching Fire last year, Francis Lawrence fails to deliver as much on the quality front this time around. The big problem is balance – or lack of it – as Lawrence uses the extra time in this first part to emotional dialogue and world building, when there’s arguably enough already. As a result of this, the pace is somewhat lacking, but it does build-up over time towards a thrilling climax.
- Honestly, if you already disliked the first two movies, you’re almost definitely not going to like this one. This is just The Hunger Games: Minus The Actual Games
- …Or the ‘Hunger’ for that matter. Katniss looks like she’s eating okay in this movie. I guess that’s pretty important actually – we wouldn’t want her to be promoting anorexia amongst teenage girls. See! These movies are important!
- We all know why this movie was split in two – and it had nothing to do with enriching the source material. The studio just want double the ticket prices. I say we stand up to these suits and only attempt to pay half the admission fare – that’ll teach ’em!
- Now I won’t spoil how the movie ends – but I will say I’m incredibly disappointed that it’d didn’t just stop with a character talking mid-sentence. That would have annoyed everyone… such a shame.
Director Francis Lawrence and star Jennifer Lawrence return for a solid – if unspectacular – third instalment in the wildly popular Hunger Games franchise, which, despite starting off slowly, gradually builds momentum towards what ends up being a fantastic finale.