Title: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
Running time: 123 minutes
Director: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Sam Claflin, Donald Sutherland
Summary: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, finds Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in District 13 after she literally shatters the games forever. Under the leadership of President Coin (Julianne Moore) and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and a nation moved by her courage.
There is this new thing in Hollywood of splitting the last book in every franchise into two films, which usually means that we get a really good second movie but a slow first part. Does Mockingjay suffer from that? At certain points. There is considerably less action, there are no Games, and it focuses more in political and propaganda themes, but telling an interesting story with more emotion than ever.
Katniss is still our reluctant hero, which sometimes can be a bit frustrating but that only makes her more human and realistic. We’re so used to young adult movies where there is a special kid who has to become the hero, that is so refreshing to see a regular girl be that character. Katniss is not the hero because she is special in any way but because what she represents and inspires. My only complain with the character is that all the focus is on her, which I understand because this is her movie and in the books you’re always inside her head, but if you’re going to do two films at least take time to also develop the characters surrounding her.
After two movies in the background, Gale finally has the screen-time to be one of the three main characters, though as I just said, he doesn’t have much to do besides being always next to Katniss and Liam Hemsworth doesn’t do much either with the character to make him stand out more.
This is the case with Peeta. Josh Hutcherson doesn’t appear as much as in the other two but gives an amazing performance. His role is very important and makes a shocking impression, especially the last shot was very intense. This time he turned out to be the best part of the movie for me.
Nowadays movies seem to have a lot of problems realizing the villain, giving him a proper motivation and charisma and, while President Snow has always been a great antagonist, this time Donald Sutherland owns it. President Coin was a good counterbalance. Julianne Moore might not be exactly the kind of actress I had in mind but she captured the essence of the character. All her scenes with Philip Seymour Hoffman were really good.
And I’m so happy they found a way to include Effie. She’s one of the best characters and the most fun to watch and in the third book she basically disappears and that’s something it always annoyed me about the third book.
Sadly Sam Claflin, who was my favourite part of Catching Fire, wasn’t as much in it, still he did really good with what he had. Finnick’s speech towards the end was very tasteful and well handled given the seriousness of the topic. But it’s also a big revelation about President Snow and the sequence that is taking place simultaneously and they kept cutting to was so distracting that I don’t know if people who haven’t read the books will get the importance of it.
From the new additions, Natalie Dormer as Cressida was a stand out for me, though I thought she would have more to do. I liked how her character was and I’m looking forward to see more of her in Mockingjay Part 2.
Regarding the finale, I always imagined it would end at that point. It was the one that made more sense. Still, and this was one of the things that most concerned me walking in, it leaves you feeling like you’re missing half of the movie.
The story is very faithful to the book and quite inspiring, to the point some countries have decided not to release it. There’s of course a lot of set-up but instead of being tedious it became emotional, making the audience believe the angst and the suffering. At some points it felt a bit repetitive but surprisingly, even though not much happened, it was quick-paced and there weren’t many filler scenes.
In the end, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 might not be the spectacular movie we were hoping for after the amazing Catching Fire but it’s definitely leading up for a potential breath-taking Part 2.