Time: 123 Minutes
Age Rating: M – Mature themes and violence
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen
Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark
Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne
Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy
Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket
Julianne Moore as President Alma Coin
Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee
Jeffrey Wright as Beetee Latier
Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman
Donald Sutherland as President Coriolanus Snow
Willow Shields as Primrose Everdeen
Sam Claflin as Finnick Odair
Jena Malone as Johanna Mason
Stef Dawson as Annie Cresta
Mahershala Ali as Boggs
Natalie Dormer as Cressida
Director: Francis Lawrence
After putting a permanent end to the games, Katniss Everdeen, Gale, Finnick and Beetee join forces to save Peeta and a nation that she has inspired by her courage.
As I was rewatching the Hunger Games movies, I was curious about what my updated thoughts on the Mockingjay films would be, specifically Part 1. After such a surprisingly great sequel to the first movie in Catching Fire, the first film of the two-part conclusion was rather underwhelming. While I do like it more now compared to when I first watched it, it still has its issues.
Mockingjay Part 1 is not without its strengths. With a much slower pace and approach, it does touch on the more political aspects, and gets into things like the rebellion and propaganda. There are also some very strong and powerful scenes and sequences which work really well. While I wouldn’t call the writing bad, it’s not that good either. I do know that adapting Mockingjay was a bit of a struggle, because while it’s been a bit since I read the book myself, it is widely known as the worst of the trilogy. But what didn’t really help is that they decided to split the shortest book of the series into two parts. I can only assume that the decision was made because previous adaptations of books with younger fans in the early 2010s like Harry Potter and Twilight did that too. Compared to most people, I’m not inherently opposed to the splitting the book into two movies. It does at least set the stage for Part 2, plus having an extra movie presents the opportunity to expand on a lot of things with the story and characters. Unfortunately, the outcome is not that good. While I wasn’t uninvested, the story is a little dull, and is filled with a lot of exposition. Not much happens in the plot and while you could make an argument that its more of a character piece for protagonist Katniss, it doesn’t really pull that off either. Characters don’t really change or develop that much and a lot of it feels like filler. There are long stretches of dialogue or emptiness and, it can’t help but feel like padding. I’m all for changing things up, but if they really wanted to commit to making Mockingjay a two parter, they really should’ve done more in that first movie.
For what its worth, the performances helped to keep me invested in the story. Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen is one of the best parts of these movies. So much of the movie relies on her, and while there isn’t as much development as I would’ve liked for her character here, Lawrence sells every scene. Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Woody Harrelson, Jeffrey Wright, Elizabeth Banks and Sam Claflin reprise their roles and as usual deliver, with Sutherland, Hoffman and Harrelson being the standouts and Hutcherson making the most of his limited screentime. The new additions were pretty good, especially with Mahershala Ali, Natalie Dormer and Julianne Moore.
After the success of Catching Fire, it’s not surprise that Lionsgate got Francis Lawrence to direct every Hunger Games movie afterwards. While his work here doesn’t reach the heights of that previous movie, it’s solid overall. The visuals are great, and they help to bring across the setting. It is definitely lacking in action, but the action scenes here are fine if a bit too shaky with the camera at times. James Newton Howard’s score as usual is pretty good too.
Mockingjay Part 1 was better than I remembered it being. The great performances and solid direction made it decent enough for me, and it even had some really good scenes and moments. However, it is definitely the worse of these four movies. While the structure of the story itself is fine, so little happens in the movie (both in plot and character) that they might as well have made Mockingjay into one long movie.