If we burn, you burn with us


DIRECTED BY: Francis Lawrence
WRITTEN BY: Danny Strong & Peter Craig
STARRING: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Willow Shields, Sam Claflin, Elizabeth Banks, Mahershala Ali, Jena Malone, Jeffrey Wright, Natalie Dormer & Stanley Tucci

SYNOPSIS: After Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) destroys the games, she finds herself in District 13: an underground militant district led by President Coin (Julianne Moore). Coin and Plutarch try to convince Katniss to become the Mockingjay, the symbol for rebellion, but she is preoccupied with rescuing Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) from the grasp of the Capitol.


FULL REVIEW: CONTAINS SPOILERS


Bits I Loved

  • Not much to say about the premise given that it is a book adaptation, but I will say the conversion from text to screen was done well. The splitting of the final book certainly is a money grab, but also allows the filmmakers to stay true to the source material. The film is able to avoid becoming purely a young teen drama by keeping the political subtext, which is really the driving force of Part 1.
  • Francis Lawrence plays off his success with Catching Fire to show why he took over as the helm for this franchise. He’s able to convey raw emotion while included strong themes.
  • The themes presented are such a great social commentary, particularly in our world of capitalism and propaganda. The ability to use these themes to bring the audience into the story on a deeper level was chilling.
  • The performances were alright. Although we didn’t see much of a lot of the characters, the main two that were focused on (Katniss & Peeta) showed us development throughout the film that made us feel what they felt. The scenes were Katniss breaks down, albeit repetitive and unchanged, were goosebump-inducing.
  • I need to give praise to the marketing on this film. The original teaser trailers were PSAs from Panem and District 13, tying directly into the propaganda, political subtext of the film, which I found REALLY smart from a marketing perspective.

Bits I Hated

  • I found that a lot of the actors weren’t used to their full potential and just delivered generic dialogue rather than the oscar-calibre performance they could have.
  • To be clear I know that some characters aren’t as prominent in the books and therefore shouldn’t be made into larger characters in the film. That being said I was disappointed with the lack of screen time for Cressida (Natalie Dormer) considering the amount of hype around her character.
  • I have a rather mixed feeling for the soundtrack. Although some pieces were perfect tonal fits for the story, I feel like the film would have benefited more from a purely instrumental track like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.
  • Not much action compared to the first two films in the franchise. HOWEVER, this film is the first that depicts the world of Panem WITHOUT having the Hunger Games as the main presence in the story. Not enough action? Prepare for Part 2.
  • I found that although the content of Part 1 was required to build the suspense needed for Part 2, the film still dragged on and realistically Mockingjay could have been a 2.5-3 hour film instead of two parts. [Hence the low premise rating]

Review

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is a slow-paced, tension-building first half to a two-part finale of the Hunger Games franchise. Francis Lawrence shows us the world of Panem without the vicious games, bringing to light a different perspective in this dystopian society. Most new characters are underdeveloped with the focus on the demons that Katniss and Peeta deal with in the aftermath of Catching Fire. It is essentially the Katniss, Peeta and Gail show in a young adult molded film that is saved by its overpowering political subtext. It hopes that the intensity built pays off, although waiting a year to release Part 2 will make most of the tension dissipate.

I was a bit disappointed with the lack of use for the oscar-calibre cast. I mean you have Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson and Donald Sutherland yet not much other than generic plot-moving dialogue from them. I understand that the film is based on a novel and that the filmmakers wanted to stay as true to them as possible, but with actors like that how can you not try to make these characters come to life off the page using their unique acting styles? I also found that the splitting of Mockingjay into two parts was unnecessary as the tension-building in this film only works if the events of Part 2 are seen in succession, not a year later. I would have preferred a three-hour movie instead of 2 two-hour films released a year apart.

Regardless it is a decent filibuster film due to its strong political commentary that makes most fans, die-hard and casual, wish that the final film was released at the beginning of 2015.  Even if it burns, we burn with it because no matter what fans will see it for the highly anticipated climax of this great series.


Oscar Nominations?

  • Best Costume Design (Doubtful)
  • Best Hair/Makeup (Doubtful)
  • Best Original Song (Guaranteed)
  • Best Visual Effects (Doubtful)
  • Best Sound Mixing (Doubtful)
  • Best Sound Editing (Doubtful)

Verdict

1 = Fair 2 = Good 3 = Very Good 4 = Excellent

★★☆☆ – Premise

★★★☆ – Story

★★★☆ – Characters

★★★★ – Visual Effects

★★☆☆ – Dialogue

★★★★ – Visuals

★★★☆ – Soundtrack


★★★★★★★★☆☆  8/10 – Recommend


What did you think of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1? Let me know in the comments!

One thought on “REVIEW: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

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