‘Mockingjay’ a dud

Shows promise, falls short


Screenshot courtesy of Lionsgate

Liam Hemsworth (Gale Hawthorne) and Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss Everdeen) during a scene in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay ‑ Part 1.”

The Hunger Games series has reached a level of popularity that might even hold a flame to Harry Potter, but the series’ newest installment, Mockingjay Part 1, certainly doesn’t measure up to the first two films.

Since it’s the third film, it’s essential to watch the first two otherwise your chance of understanding anything is slim to none. However, even as someone who has seen the films and read the books, Mockingjay left me fuzzy on the plot at times.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay ‑ Part 1, released Nov. 21, was directed by Francis Lawrence for Lions Gate Entertainment. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson, with returns from Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The series follows young Katniss Everdeen, played by Lawrence, living in a dystopian society of Panem, which is composed of 12 districts under the forceful central government called the Capitol. Each year, the Capitol selects two young tributes from each district to fight to the death in the globally televised, Olympic-like, Hunger Games. Tributes must survive in a secluded arena of natural resources while avoiding being killed by the other tributes until only one is left standing.

Katniss, having been drawn into the games not once, but twice, made an incredibly bold decision at the end of the second installment, Catching Fire, that caused a rippling effect throughout the entire nation of Panem. Mockingjay Part 1 chronicles those effects as the entire nation turns to Katniss for guidance.

While Catching Fire ended on an intense cliffhanger, Mockingjay Part 1 slowly eased into the plot without even briefly reminding the viewers of where the story left off. It was almost as if you needed to watch catching fire directly before watching Part 1 to know where Katniss was, or who the characters were. Again, even with knowing the story, it took some effort to piece together the setting.

To the film’s credit, Mockingjay Part 1 does begin with Katniss in an extremely fragile state of mind, so it’s possible the director took liberties so that she wouldn’t jump back into action after experiencing trauma. This would explain the film’s slow start and drastically less explosive nature.

But to analyze the film without comparing it to its predecessors, Jenifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson gave fantastic performances. It’s hard to imagine how their characters must feel at this point in the story after going through such anguish and inhumanity, but they conveyed the emotion beautifully and powerfully.

The plot of Mockingjay is not about an explosive plot, but rather the development of the characters, and building the stage for the next film. There is some action, but for those expecting to see an epic battle, stay tuned for the saga’s conclusion next year.

With all that said, Mockingjay Part 1 is certainly not a bad film.

The acting was superb, and the production was true to the imagery in the books. Because the final book was split into two parts, a few details were left out.

But perhaps they should have left some of the dull, unnecessary details out to leave room for something a bit juicier. However, the promise of something exciting is what will bring the audience back to theaters next year for Part 2.

I would tag this film as a “must-see” only for the true fans that need to see it before the series’ conclusion. Now that is going to be a smash.