After the immensely entertaining Hunger Games and the equally good Catching Fire, can Mockingjay Part 1 continue the success of the series? The answer is a definitive maybe.
Katniss Everdeen, everyone’s favourite PTSD patient is conscripted by District 13 to lead the rebel forces against the evil Emperor Palpa… umm, I mean the evil president Snow in a movie that has been termed the ‘series’ Empire Strikes Back.’ Katniss must rise up and become the Mockingjay, the symbol of the rebellion and in the mean time, rescue Peeta from the clutches of the Capital.
Let’s start with performances. Lawrence is as good as ever, confidently delivering a full range of emotions. Hemsworth is fine if you’re a fan of cynical arseholes with no likability whatsoever. Julianne Moore and Philip Seymour Hoffman are both excellent, Moore delivers the snappy, sinister Coin to a tee from the books and Seymour Hoffman’s Plutarch is effortlessly intriguing. Hutcherson isn’t in the film that much, but he’s fine.
Alright, so here we go. The movie is definitely Part 1 of a story which needed no part 1. It covers very little ground and really rings out every single trickle of sweat from the sock of the source material into some mildly acceptable piece of fabric that’s okay to wear, but still discerningly unpleasant and ultimately pointless when there’s fresh array of clean socks available. If you got a little lost in that metaphor; the movie is okay, but the cynic I am, it shouldn’t exist and there are many better movies out there now than this one. I wasn’t a fan of the final book, very little happened yet it was 100mph, like a motion simulator of a drag race, you’re not going anywhere. Scene after scene after scene of Katniss crying, Katniss sitting down, Katniss hugging people and Gale, oh no, not him, Gale walking on screen to give Katniss his daily dose of mundane cynicism. There isn’t even a love triangle here, no one could love him. When the final act of the movie dawned on me, even then there was no action. Tensely filmed as it may be, credit to Francis Lawrence, you can’t make a brilliant action movie when the best piece of action is the rescue of a cat.
It isn’t all bad at all. The movie isn’t a crap, it’s well directed and isn’t afraid, finally, to show the horrors of war. Some scenes are disturbing, with close detail being shown of corpses and devastation, this is what we really need to see from a premise so focused on shocking the audience. The score is absolutely beautiful. In fact, the best moment of the movie comes with Katniss’ Hanging Tree song which plays hauntingly over a fantastic uprising scene. The movie illustrates the usurping of Snow well and it is definitely exciting to see Panem beginning to stand up for itself. These scenes are masterful, genuinely brilliant and set apart The Hunger Games from all the other teen dystopian tripe out there. These were small reminders throughout Mockingjay that it was a decent movie and couldn’t possibly be given anything lower than a 6. However, unfortunately that’s all they were. Small reminders.
2 hours later of incessantly heavy emotions and the expectation that we have to believe Jennifer Lawrence is like, 17 years old, I found myself, simply put, almost bored. It hooked me, just, until the end and the the closing scene certainly packs a punch but the movie really could have done with a few more action scenes, especially in the final act. I’m not action obsessed, I love a good movie with no action and only dialogue when it’s a good movie. However, there’s a reason Suzanne Collins didn’t split her final book into 2 parts… in the first part, whilst important, there is very little that can stand on it’s own without the second half. And so we have the major problem with Mockingjay Part 1. That being said, there were just enough moments of brilliance, winks of promise and shoulder budges of encourage to suggest that Part 2 is going to be one hell of a ride. Shame about the year wait, then.
Well filmed but not enough material to stretch this out for a standalone movie, Part 1 is a largely disappointing movie, but a brilliant advert for the final act. May the odds that Part 2 is an improvement, be ever in our favour.