MOVIE REVIEW: ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1’ Leaves A Lot To Be Desired

Film: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence
Directed by: Francis Lawrence

I can still clearly recall walking out of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire with a sense of disbelief coursing through my veins. After being horribly underwhelmed by the initial outing of the Hunger Games franchise, the first sequel proved to be top notch entertainment. I was legitimately excited for the next chapter, despite the fact it was the first entry in a two-part finale fans of the novels had told me never really needed to be split. I didn’t care, at least not at the time, but looking back I probably should have known things were too good to be true. I should have known Catching Fire was as good as The Hunger Games would get, at least for now.

Mockingjay, Part 1 is the beginning of the end for Katniss Everdeen and the growing rebel faction hoping to take down President Snow and the politicians who reside in The Capitol. After inspiring several districts to rise up following her actions at the end of Catching Fire, Katniss wakes to find herself in the medical ward of a still-thriving District 13. Finnick is there as well, but Peeta, Annie and Johanna are believed to be detained within The Capitol. Katniss is tired of war, and though she is wanted by the rebels to be the mouthpiece for their revolution, her heart desires nothing more than time with Peeta and an end to violence. These wishes soon change, however, when she learns that her home (District 12) was leveled in the most recent Hunger Games. This fuels Katniss’ thirst for revenge, and soon she finds herself becoming the figurehead she’s been groomed to be since day one.

If all of this led to me explaining how Katniss and the rest of the rebels storm The Capitol with arrows, fists, and torches raised high I probably would not have many complaints to share. That is, after all, what happens in the final book. Mockingjay, Part 1 cannot reach this point though, as doing so would negate any need to split the finale of this high-grossing series into two separate films, and that would be an absolute travesty! Okay, that’s not true in the slightest, but based on what does happen in Part 1 it seems clear the studio could not care less what is best for fans. Though the story is executed well, there is simply not enough story to provide proper reasoning as to why Mockingjay could not be a single feature. It stretches tiny moments and unnecessary exposition in order to craft a two-hour story that could be told in seventy-five minutes (or less), and ultimately provides no payoff for everything promised since the first film. It’s just another time filler before the finale, existing for seemingly no other purpose than the fattening of the studio’s pockets.

As the story cannot reach its over-the-top conclusion, viewers spend the bulk of the film’s runtime following Katniss as she begins her work as the face and voice of the revolution. This includes such events as: Katniss awkwardly performing in front of a green screen, Katniss arguing that she should do things her own way, Hamish arguing the same things, filming on site in various districts, sequences of on site footage being edited, and – last, but certainly not least – the series’ first musical number. If all this sounds nothing like anything seen in the previous two entries that is because Mockingjay, Part 1 has very little in common with the rest of the series outside of featuring many familiar characters. The story being told lacks the action and edge-of-your-seat moments provided by the games-heavy previous entries, as well as the heart one normally finds in the quiet moments shared between Katniss and either of her two love interests. Both Gale and Peeta are here once again, but the context in which they appear limits the amount of one-on-one time they have with Katniss.

Mockingjay, Part 1 would be almost entirely disposable if it were not for the impeccable talent on display from Jennifer Lawrence. She has honed the character of Katniss to the point of perfection, disappearing entirely into the film despite being a tabloid regular. When she weeps for her city, you want to weep. When she feels anger and screams for justice, you feels your fist clench and are forced to fight the urge to jump out of your seat, joining the revolution taking place on screen. It’s largely because of her that this journey is worth your time, let alone your money, though there is something to be said for the performances of Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Julianne Moore, and the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman.

For those who have followed Katniss’ journey from day one, be it starting on screen or through the original novels by Suzanne Collins, Mockingjay, Part 1 is must-see cinema that no one should pay to watch. It’s a largely unnecessary addition to an otherwise entertaining franchise that must be seen solely because it provides the foundation for what I can only hope will be a far more thrilling final chapter. If you did not need to know and understand certain events that happen during this entry in order to properly appreciate the next installment, I would advise you to skip this one altogether. In fact, if you’ve read the book you might as well do just that. You don’t need this film, and to be honest neither did the studio behind it. Mockingjay, Part 1 is a shameless cash grab. A well-made cash grab, but a cash grab nonetheless.


Review written by James Shotwell

James Shotwell
Latest posts by James Shotwell (see all)
Both comments and pings are currently closed.

3 Responses to “MOVIE REVIEW: ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1’ Leaves A Lot To Be Desired”

  1. ram says:

    WOW. The Review was just perfect. Without jennifer its pure waste of time and money

  2. Fred Bastiat says:

    They’ll get my money on the finale. The movie had terrible slow spots, like go to the bank and come back slow. If you watch on Netflix later you’ll have plenty of opportunity to go to the kitchen and make a meal without missing anything that pertains to story or character development. The movie did what the producers likely intended – set the state for the final movie. Hopefully they’ll execute well on the last one.

  3. parto makino says:

    Watch The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 2014 Full Movie Online HD
    Stream Now on