Here’s the biggest problem with splitting a book adaptation into two films: the first half of the novel usually sets up the second half. This includes the plotting, pacing, and action. Never was this so true or painfully obvious as in this weekend’s release of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1. As the credits rolled I felt like I was supposed to take an intermission and come back for the rest of the movie.
While I’m not going to say that Mockingjay is a bad film, it certainly is inferior to last year’s Catching Fire. It’s still better that the first film in the series and the acting continues to be one of the franchise’s strong points but I wanted to leave the theater a bit more fulfilled.
The film opens up with Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) now deep underground in District 13, still trying to cope with the events of the last film and devastated over the fact that she has no idea what happened to Peta (Josh Hutcherson). She has no time to grieve, however, as District 13’s President-elect Alma Coin (Juilianne Moore) wants her to be the face of the uprising.
With the help of Plutarch Heavensbee (an already-missed Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), Alma turns Katniss’s loss and fear into anger and directs it straight at the Capital and President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Actually, that’s the entire movie. Most of Part 1focuses around Katniss coming to terms with the world around her and trying to do what she can to help a desperate populace while waiting for the opportunity to find and free Peta from the clutches of the Capital.
The acting is wonderful and oftentimes moving while the special effects blend seamlessly with the rest of the film. There are many scenes that had me leaning forward in my seat and sometimes I forgot that these were actors and not some strange documentary from the future. However the movie does drag a lot in the beginning and even more towards the end.
It’s not bad, but it ends up feeling more like a melodrama than the continuation of an epic film franchise. Much like the film itself, this review is going to just stop right here without giving any fulfilling answers only to be finished in 2015.
Top image © Lionsgate.