Cary, NC — The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is the latest entry in the massively popular film franchise. Mockingjay immediately stands apart from its predecessors by being the first film to not feature any actual Hunger Games; instead, the film focuses on its core themes of rebellion and questioning authority. It’s smart science fiction filmmaking hampered only by the fact that it’s half a movie.
Franchise Continues To Surprise
I have been constantly surprised by The Hunger Games franchise. When I saw the trailers for the first film I wasn’t impressed, and I only eventually saw it just to see what all the hype was about. I walked out quietly impressed.
The film was better than I thought it would be, and Jennifer Lawrence completely won me over with her performance, but I still wasn’t in love with the series. The sequel, Catching Fire, completely changed that by offering a more developed world, bigger stakes, and an especially angry cliffhanger that had me on the edge of my seat and absolutely ecstatic for the next film.
Thankfully, Mockingjay continues the upward trajectory by eschewing the expected structure of these films. The focus is now about war, though not the kind you’d expect–at least not yet.
The two sides, the rebellion and the Capitol, are sparring in a propaganda match. The Capitol uses Peeta, Katniss’ partner in the games, in a bid to calm the other districts and convince them that Katniss has turned against them, while the rebellion has crowned Katniss as their mockingjay, a symbol of hope against the oppressive Capitol.
Trades Action For Politics in Mockingjay
Returning director Francis Lawrence does a fantastic job of conveying the politics of the film in a way that’s immediate and exciting. There’s almost no action in the film, odd in an event film of this size, but it still works.
Katniss has been destroyed by the games, and most of the film is spent following her pick up the pieces and figuring out what to do next. Once again, Lawrence is great in the role.
The rest of cast does good work as well, all comfortable in their characters three films in. Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks add a welcome sense of humor to the otherwise dark setting, and Phillip Seymour Hoffman is as good as always in one of his final performances.
Honestly, if I had to say one bad thing about Mockingjay, it’s that it feels incomplete. Granted, Part 1 is right there in the title, but the film just feels like a set up. That’s exactly what it is of course, and it’s not really the films fault nor the filmmakers. The decision was a monetary one. Why make $800 million once when you can make it twice?
From a business perspective I completely get it and, again, it doesn’t really hurt the film per se. In the future I just don’t see myself ever watching this entry on its own without immediately putting on the finale (assuming it delivers, that is).
Left Me Wanting More
These films have quickly become some of the best and most exciting science fiction films out there. Even though Mockingjay is only half a story, it still delivers a thrilling one filled with big ideas, and, in the end, I found myself wanting more. So yes, it is absolutely worth seeing, especially if you’re already a fan.
Jordan Hunt covers the movies for CaryCitizen. Read more Movie Reviews.
Coverage on CaryCitizen is sponsored in part by Title Boxing in Cary.