Sunday, November 23, 2014

Movie Review: "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1" (2014)

Image Source
Movie"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1"
Director: Francis Lawrence
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 3 minutes

After destroying the Quarter Quell Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is rescued by rebel forces from District 13 and taken there since District 12, her home, has been annihilated by the Capitol. Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) want Katniss as the face of the impending rebellion against President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and the Capitol. Katniss agrees to be their Mockingjay, or, the symbol for hope, and in an effort to rally the other districts into overthrowing the Capitol with them, they make a series of Propo (propaganda) films that are illegally broadcast to the masses. Unfortunately, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and the other Hunger Games participants were captured by President Snow and Peeta is being used as a weapon against the rebellion. Katniss' one condition to being the Mockingjay is that Peeta and the others be rescued and extracted from the Capitol at the earliest opportunity.

We continue to be impressed by the "Hunger Games" movie franchise, though "Catching Fire" is still, by far, our favorite of the series. Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to read the last book before this movie came out, but I am going to do so soon because the movie pretty much rocked. Once again, the message of social injustice at the hands of the government is the center plot, and Katniss Everdeen is back to kick more ass and take more names, only this time, she is a little worse for the wear. With Peeta captured by the Capitol, Katniss is worried about his well being, especially since it turns out he is being used and broadcast on a massive scale to quash the rebellion and everything it stands for. Returning again is Jennifer Lawrence, who cries a lot in this movie. When she is not in her bat-suit, oh no, we mean her Mockingjay suit, her acting does seem a little forced, but she does give a very inspirational speech about halfway through the movie that is extremely emotionally moving. Our eyes widened with delight and excitement and wonderment! What a bitchin' speech! We can't wait for the second part of this movie so Katniss can return to her to angsty, anti-capitol ways (though this is shown a little bit in this movie here and there). I think that the majority of the crying was necessary for her character because she has been slowly falling in love with Peeta over the last two and a half movies; filmmakers: A) needed filler, and B) needed to show that she was emotionally broken by the last Games. Josh Hutcherson is not in the film a whole lot, and when he is, he is pandering Capitol propaganda, though it is clear he is being made to say these things and is being tortured as exhibited by his gaunt exterior. He has an intense scene towards the end of the film which makes us even more excited for part 2. Lesser Hemsworth just stands the entire movie looking dopey, IE: like Lesser Hemsworth, being all second fiddle and shit. Newcomer Alma Coin, played by Julianne Moore, never truly reveals her hand and we got the vibe that she wasn't being completely honest with her involvement in the rebellion. Moore does a good job in this role. Philip Seymour Hoffman is in most of the scenes in an advisory role, always talking and never quite being able to express his true thoughts. When the "in memory of" flashed across the screen at the end of the movie, I cried knowing this is one of the last movies where we will ever see him. :(

This is another movie in a long line of theatrical mini-series of sorts, where the final piece of the movie puzzle is broken into two (or sometimes even more) parts a la "Harry Potter," "Twilight," "The Hobbit," etc. This is only the beginning and middle of an adaptation that has been put into film form. It's not a complete story and has no real climax because of this. Sure, this particular movie does end nicely on a major plot point, but always on a cliffhanger. Do we hate that it is done this way? Yes, absolutely, for many reasons. 1) INSTANT GRATIFICATION. We don't want to wait one more damn year to see how this movie plays out in the end. 2) MONEY-GRUBBING WHORES. We can tell quite obviously that the studios want to squeeze every freakin' penny out of us poor saps knowing full well that we will pay every freakin' penny to see both parts of these films. 3) HAVING NOTHING LEFT. Hollywood is full of unoriginal ideas, prequels and sequels being the least of them. But, in an effort to, once again, make more money, they squeeze every freakin' penny out of and every freakin' word and every freakin' possibility out of these series since there are no. new. or. original. ideas. left. They know that these series are popular, so they milk them instead of creating new, inspired films.

As we mentioned above, there does seem to be a lot of chatter and filler in this movie, and besides a couple of key scenes, there's not much action here as most of this has been reserved for part 2. The film mainly focuses on the use of propaganda films by both sides, and because so much time goes into making these pieces, this does lead to some dragging in the middle of the movie. That being said, we still enjoyed it quite a bit and cannot wait for the second half.

My Rating: 8/10
BigJ's Rating: 8.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 68%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!


  1. As a fan girling geek I love extra installments of these types of movies <3

    Great review! I was so stoked they followed the book so closely. It is hard got me to see what filler is when it all was part of the story. Coin was too pretty for me. That may sound harsh but I just had her cast as more plain and Julianne is anything but plain. PSH :*-( he is missed!!!!

  2. In the beginning the film was trying to actually throw in our faces that there's a love triangle. In the book however it's a little different. She clearly have feelings for both men but I don't think she was ever in love with Peeta. In a sense Peeta represented hope for the future/rebirth/the dandelion in the spring metaphor in the book and Gale represented war, hatred...every thing Katniss hated before the games ruined her. Glad they are showing more of her ptsd from the games though.