Monday, November 24, 2014

The Hunger Games - Mockingjay Part 1

That girl is on fire
This weekend I watched Mockingjay - Part 1, the next-to-last installment in Lionsgate's highly succesful Hunger Games movie franchise. It had been just little over a year since Catching Fire came out, but in my humble opinion this movie couldn't come fast enough. And that for several reasons:

A. I have the hugest fangirl crush on Jennifer Lawrence. No one else could play Katniss. Plus, I loved her in Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, she's hilarious in interviews, and she was a class act throughout the whole "Fappening" thing.

B. I absolutely loved the books, shredding through them in mere days (Thanks for the timely hat tip, Jarco!), and placing them above popular imitations like The Maze Runner and Divergent

C. The Mockingjay movies mark the late Philip Seymour-Hoffman's last hurrah. I still can't believe the unforgettable Sandy Lyle is gone.

The skinny

As you might expect, #MJ1 picks up where Catching Fire ended. Archer-heroine Katniss (Lawrence) finds herself in the underground District 13, where President Coin (the always-amazing Julianne Moore) leads the rebellion against the Capitol. Katniss refuses at first to become Coin's "Mockingjay" - the symbol of the rebellion - but when Plutarch Heavensbee (Seymour-Hoffman) suggests she visites the ruins of District 12 and she later sees Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) being used by Capitol state television to quell the rebellion, she changes her mind. On the condition that Peeta and the others will be rescued, that is. 

As Katniss and her film team - led by Capitol escapee Cressida (Game of Thrones star Nathalie Dormer) - start making rousing propaganda videos, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) does everything in his power to stop her.

The review

I'm not a big fan of two-parters. With the final Harry Potter movie, for example, the HP franchise horcruxed itself a bit simply because Part 1 was basically a $$$-inspired, 146-minute table-setter. I don't like that.

With Mockingjay Part 1, Austrian-born director Francis Lawrence delivers a dark and entertaining, yet ultimately unfulfilling, set-up movie for the franchise's grand finale (coming November 20, 2015, according to Lionsgate Publicity). Sure, #MJ1 might be a bit too cat-and-mouse-y for some, with lot of "staring ahead" scenes in between, but Lawrence, Hoffman, Moore, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks and Jeffrey Wright all bring their "A" games, and the movie's exploration of war propaganda will give you something to think about.

Oh, and just you wait when this song comes on:

All in all, Lionsgate succesfully lays the groundwork for Mockingjay Part 2, even though squeezing the entire book in a 3-hour epic was certainly a possibility. 


  1. Seemed like it was made for just money and it shows. Which stinks, because it was working so well for so long. Good review.

    1. I guess that's just how it works nowadays. I'm glad that Peter Jax decided against it with The Battle of the Five Armies.