123 min - Adventure | Sci-Fi
Review: Matt Mungle
A quick poll of those who have read the Hunger Games book series
would reveal that the third and final book is their least favorite.
Many would call it unnecessary and wordy. It is certainly more
political with a military mindset. What may surprise readers is
that this third film in the movie series, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay
- Part 1, might be the better screen adaptation; only in the fact
that it makes a ho-hum book slightly intriguing. This of course
applies mainly to the readers. Those who have only watched the
movies will still find it a bit boring.
It would be smart to re-watch The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
or at least the last 30 minutes. This new one picks up right where
the other left off with no flashback scenes and very little recap.
We find Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has been secured
away in District 13; a military compound that has been hidden
underground for many years. Under the leadership of President
Coin (Julianne Moore) they have created an army to overthrow the
Capitol and want to use Katniss as the Mockingjay, a poster child
for the rebellion.
This installment plays it very safe when it comes to story line,
character development, and action. Hopefully it is setting things
up for an ultimate showdown in the fourth and final movie. Those
who have read the books might be a little more forgiving of this.
Others will walk out with more questions than anything. Yes the
film looks amazing and the acting and script is solid. There are
many returning characters and plenty of wit and humor thanks to
Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) and Effie (Elizabeth Banks). Your heart
will be a bit saddened as you watch Philip Seymour Hoffman. He
is missed in this world and this role reminds us how memorable
and likeable he was.
The scenery and set design is the best so far. The detail in each
of the districts is appreciated and helps draw you in to the Panem
world. It will not take long for the viewer to remember how much
they despise President Snow and his regime. You will have the
urge to fast forward to what you hope will be his final demise.
That may be another reason this one seems very anticlimactic.
You want Snow to pay and to see that smug look wiped from his
face. You want the Mockingjay to get under his skin and make him
sweat a bit.
One issue that non book readers will have with this film is the
inability to truly understand Katniss. We want the anger driven,
angst filled rebel to grab a bow and storm the castle walls! What
we get in this film is a confused Katniss that seems to bounce
back and forth between losing her nerve and then finding it, only
to lose it again. Also she has these horrible “Twilight”
moments when she can’t seem to decide, at least to the viewer,
if she wants to be with Gale (Liam Hemsworth) or Peeta (Josh Hutcherson).
It makes her look like Bella Swan with better hair. It is no wonder
that Coin seconds guesses her decision to make Katniss the Mockingjay,
and ours to watch the film.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 is rated PG-13 for intense
sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images and thematic
material. It is actually tamer than the first two films. Other
than a few dramatic images not much happens that would scare,
scar, or shock younger viewers. If you are committed to the movies
and determined to see it through to the end then you need to see
this one. Again it is mainly a lot of set up as we see all the
chess pieces moved into place. Other than a couple of brief action
moments it is primarily an emotional journey for Katniss in the
backdrop of Panem destruction. I give it 3 out of 5 white roses.
Like the book it is necessary but only slightly.