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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (2014)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
Movie Connections:
The Hunger Games
> The Hunger Games (2012)
> The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
> The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -... (2014)
> The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 (2015)
Genres / Traits:
Action, Psychological Thriller, Science Fiction, Teen Thriller, Post Apocalyptic
Director:
Francis Lawrence Francis Lawrence
Starring:
Jennifer Lawrence Jennifer Lawrence
Josh Hutcherson Josh Hutcherson
Liam Hemsworth Liam Hemsworth
Woody Harrelson Woody Harrelson
Donald Sutherland Donald Sutherland

6.6 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Crispy
Added: December 09, 2014
The next installment of the insanely popular Hunger Games franchise has been released, and as can be expected, people are lining up in droves at the theaters. However, this has been receiving some uncharacteristic complaints. Are the criticisms fair though?

After Katniss blew the Quarter Quell's arena and escaped with the other rebels, the Capitol responded by firebombing her home of District 12 into oblivion. Fortunately, her old friend Gale was able to move a small percentage of its population, including her family, out of harm's way; they've since joined the resistance in the bunkers beneath District 13 along with descendants of the Civil War's survivors. Led by President Coin, they've survived by maintaining a strict regimen, motivated by survival and hatred of the Capitol. The same hatred that has has finally erupted in the other Districts and a second uprising has begun. However, their morale hinges on Katniss. Too bad she's been spending her nights plagued by nightmares and her days hiding in a ventilation duct desperately clinging to sanity. Plutarch and Coin know full well that they need her to assume the mantle of The Mockingjay, however, she she's still wracked with guilt that Peeta is in the hands of the Capitol and her natural lack of charisma completely undermines the propaganda videos they've tried to make. The answer is obvious. Katniss' passion needs to come from legitimate emotion. She actually needs to enter the war in order to be the symbol they need, but is this broken seventeen-year-old up to the challenge?

So let's talk about some of the complaints that keep popping up. Perhaps most prevalent are the claims that the movie doesn't have enough action. To that I say, "yeah, no shit." Did everyone forget about the Part 1 in the title? The novel was broken into two pieces. As with any story, Mockingjay follows the typical plot-pattern: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action. This movie is merely the exposition and rising action. Of course, the action is going to be minimal; we haven't gotten to that part of the story yet. Part 1's job was to set up the final battle against oppressor and rebel, and it does that beautifully. To put a finer tip on it, it shows just how important Katniss is to the rebels. As much as I loved the scenes where they've adopted her songs and quotes as rallying cries, the palpable look of hope on their faces when they see her in the flesh is even more telling. There's no question that even though she's not the brains of the revolution, she's definitely its face. The split also kept Peeta and Gale separated for another movie, which I'm sure annoyed the portion of the fan-base looking forward to a Twilight-esque love triangle playing out. However, the truth is that while it was certainly there, it was never quite that prevalent in the novels. Those folks will be likely be just as annoyed after Part 2.

Once again, this franchise has some strong acting backing it up. For a third time, Jennifer Lawrence runs Katniss' emotional gamut perfectly. From hiding in a vent having an anxiety attack to furiously yelling at the Capitol in the wake of a bombing to awkwardly feigning for the commercials, she once again proves her salt. Granted, being we're dealing with the resistance directly this time, her role as a mere tool is a bit more obvious. I'm sure some people are attaching that detriment to her, but that's got nothing to do with Lawrence. On the secondary level, Liam Hemsworth was finally able to step out of the background. His scenes were all well done, and I'm looking forward to him really going all out next time. After all, the war will truly be his place to shine, and he's got more than a few scenes from the book that I'm really looking forward to see play out. Peeta spends much of his time in Part 1 as a POW, but it's all but obligatory that I touch on Josh Hutcherson. For the first time in the series, he finally got away from that mopey character that defined him in the first two books, and he did a lot with his small screen time. I wasn't, however, a big fan of how Jullianne Moore handled President Coin. I'm not saying her performance was bad, but there was a key aspect to the character that was missing. I can't discuss it without spoiling the shit out of a major scene from Part 2, but Coin heads down a particular path that she should have already been on. I feel like that revelation is going to be too jarring now that they're cramming it all into the second half.

With the recent influx of splitting the final installments in half, you'd think people would understand that they're not sitting down to watch a full movie. Mockingjay - Part 1 gets the ball rolling beautifully, and I'm really looking forward to seeing this war wrap up next year. 7/10.
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