The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

mockingjayThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 – 3/5 – When a series begins, there is always a chance that we will get a full trilogy, multiple films or liberties taken to stretch out the story from one or two novels.  Long story short; The Hunger Games has been a decent series in the first 2 films, with an inevitable third part coming (because of it being a set of 3 books).  What happens to a ‘traditional’ trilogy gets stretched to move films.  What this does is cause a series that had a lot of momentum in first two films grinds to a halt with  ‘Part 1’.  Mockingjay Part 1 grounds characters to create a film that becomes just another ‘run of the mill’ dystopian film.

Premise:  With the consequences of her actions having strong ripple effects on Panem; Katniss now finds herself the face of a revolution years in the making.  Now with District 13 coming out of the shadows, she must learn to become this face while also struggling with how to confront a friend turned enemy; Peeta.

Since this is the third movie in the series, you will definitely know the cast and their overall characteristics.  You have many noteworthy names (Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Josh Hutcherson) great supporting cast (Sam Claflin, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Jeffery Wright) a great villain (Donald Sutherland) and some new faces (Julianne Moore, Mahershala Ali, Natalie Dormer).  The cast (as a whole) does a great job in engrossing you into this world of Panem and the struggle the people of the Districts have against the totalitarian government in the ‘luscious’ capital.  No matter if we are dealing with Katniss, President Snow or the rest of the supporting cast; you feel the struggle and the deep schisms that have happened, and how the tipping point occurs from actions of the previous films.  Even with that completeness within, you also feel there isn’t anything new or deeply found in the current characters of previous films; and also the new ones.  As you watch them on screen, you see that everyone is filling in ‘certain positions’ within the film’s story; positioning for what will happen in the second part of this ‘Mockingjay’ conclusion.  I will definitely mention that Lawrence (as always ) does a great job in the lead role of Katniss.  She is so empowering on screen, especially as you watch her struggle to become the ‘face’ of the revolution.  No matter if she is struggling with these personal choices, or even her relationships between Hemsworth’s Gale and Hutcherson’s Peeta, you always believe in what Katniss has become.

The direction is what you would find in any story that is split into two parts.  This first part is considered a traditional ‘setup’ for the ‘confrontation’ that will be part 2.  At the end of the last film, Katniss learns that her actions have had dire consequences through Panem.  The Districts have started revolting; District 13 comes out of hiding readying their plans; and Peeta has been captured.  From this, Katniss gets thrown into the mix, and is given the podium to become the ‘face’ of this revolution.  This film is the basic allure of a drama that moves at a slow pace.  All the acts stack upon the next, just building this ‘slow burn’ as followed:

First act:  Propaganda between the Capital and District 13; Katniss struggling with purpose

Second act: Tides turning/Military action, revelation of Peeta and ‘trust/loyalty’ issues

Third act: ‘High stakes’ black ops mission; cliché twist/climax; cliffhanger ending

That is the film in a nutshell.  As mentioned; the film is a slow burn.  In that slow burn, combined with the splitting of the book’s story; this film doesn’t follow a traditional structure of ‘storytelling’.  As this happens (like the last Harry Potter films) you get a simmering of the pop that will lead to an eventual boil.   What this does (even if you’ve read the books) is create a very strong predictability factor that drowns out some of the ‘personal’ interactions, deeply moving revolutionary themes and dystopian ‘aura’.  All of the depth becomes standard cliché themes of government vs. the people; propaganda and ‘ultimate’ sacrifices.  Even with the generalities that hang over the experience; the film still entertains and keeps you on track for something ‘big’ to happen in Part 2.

The visuals are a lot grittier and ‘confined’ in this film.  With a look at the Districts (especially District 13) over the more ‘colorful’ aspects of the Capital; you get to see a ‘contrasting’ look at how people live vs. the privy.  This grit and ‘grounded’ aspects helps create an invoking tone, letting you see why the people need to rise up and take out this government, no matter the cost.   The score is an acceptable use of music; but it doesn’t help or hinder the overall experience of the film.

This third Hunger Games film is nothing more than a setup for the finale.  Even for the generalities, there is still a lot here that will entertain.  The struggles and sacrifices from Katniss and the people of the Districts help keep you in the film; even if the rest is predictable.  If you’re a fan, you will probably enjoy what this film sets up.  Even if you’re not a fan of this series, you can still find some enjoyment within this world of Panem.

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