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Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
11.18.2014
4 10
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PLOT: Fresh from her rescue from the latest deadly edition of “The Hunger Games” Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) finds herself the face of District 13’s armed resistance to President Snow’s (Donald Sutherland) reign. With the help of former games designer Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) – president of District 13 – Katniss must navigate her new role and struggle with the fact that her loved ones are now in constant danger.

REVIEW: After CATCHING FIRE, it looked like THE HUNGER GAMES franchise was on a roll. While the material is a little thin, one can’t deny that the series is elevated by Jennifer Lawrence, who emerged between the first two films as an Oscar-winning actress, and one of the brightest new stars of her generation. She anchored the movies and gave them a weight they wouldn’t have had otherwise. Sadly, even Lawrence is unable to save MOCKINGJAY PART 1, which suffers from a typical problem that affects young adult franchises. In splitting up the final volume of Suzanne Collins’ trilogy to eke out an extra film – which was done with HARRY POTTER, TWILIGHT and arguably THE HOBBIT (with one book becoming three films) – there’s very little substance to this installment. It feels like a two-hour prelude to next year’s finale, and a very boring one at that.

hunger games mockingjay part 1 jennifer lawrence

It’s a real shame as while maybe not quite on the level of something like HARRY POTTER, THE HUNGER GAMES series made for a pretty decent saga. MOCKINGJAY PART 1 absolutely saps the franchise of any sense of urgency, with everything dragged out to a ludicrous degree. It’s just so damn slow. Pretty much the entire film is devoted to planning the District 13 rebellion, with almost no action to speak of and absolutely no chance – save for one brief moment – for Lawrence to be the action heroine everyone loved so much from the other films. Rather, she spends the entire film moping over Peeta (who’s become a hated traitor due to his use as propaganda by Snow) and brooding over the human toll of the war. There’s absolutely no action, and any sense of fun or adventure that the other films had is completely absent.

hunger games mockingjay part 1 jennifer lawrence

As a result, Lawrence’s Katniss has been absolutely defanged, with her never once getting the chance to do anything even slightly cool. Imagine they made a Marvel movie where Iron Man, Thor, or Captain America doesn’t get any action scenes and spends the entire film moping over how much of a dick the bad guy is being. Or if they made a James Bond outing where most of the movie was M and Q talking about Bond, with us cutting to him sipping the occasional martini and preparing for a mission we never see him go on. That’s pretty much what they’ve done here. If MOCKINGJAY had been one film, this wouldn’t have been a problem as presumably Katniss gets active in the conclusion. One its own, PART 1 of MOCKINGJAY is a real bore, and even the usually reliable Lawrence doesn’t seem to be as engaged as she usually is, not that you can blame her.

hunger games mockingjay part 1 philip seymour hoffman julianne moore

The only good thing about the way MOCKINGJAY was split up is that Julianne Moore and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman get a lot of screen time, but these two heavyweight actors don’t really fit into the universe the same way Lawrence and company do. Her co-stars are largely sidelined, with Josh Hutcherson barely in it, and Woody Harrelson only having a few quick scenes. The two breakout stars form CATCHING FIRE, Sam Claflin and Jena Malone are also mostly absent. Only Liam Hemsworth benefits from more screen time, although his character is as bland as he was in the other movies. This is Lawrence’s show and it’s unbelievable that she wasn’t given more to do.

Die-hard fans of the books will probably defend this by saying that all my critiques are just examples of the filmmakers being faithful. To me, this is a problem. What works on the page doesn’t necessarily work on screen, and if everyone was dead-set on turning MOCKINGJAY into two films, they should have at least made sure they had enough material to merit the split. There’s very little about MOCKINGJAY PART 1 to recommend, as everything is by-the-numbers, from the direction by Francis Lawrence, to the sometimes listless performances. Nobody seems excited by what they’re doing here, and the movie doesn’t have any memorable imagery or set-pieces to boot. What a shame, as up to now this was a fun series of films. Hopefully MOCKINGJAY PART 2 will make up for this, but one can’t help but think that what it takes them 125 minutes to do here could have been done in about a forty minutes of screen time if MOCKINGJAY had been one (good) movie.

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4:54PM on 11/23/2014
I disagree with this review. 4/10 is ridiculous. Of course it's not a perfect masterpiece, but it is very entertaining. 7/10
I disagree with this review. 4/10 is ridiculous. Of course it's not a perfect masterpiece, but it is very entertaining. 7/10
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2:44AM on 11/22/2014
"Imagine they made a Marvel movie where Iron Man, Thor, or Captain America doesn’t get any action scenes and spends the entire film moping over how much of a dick the bad guy is being." That movie was called Iron Man 3
"Imagine they made a Marvel movie where Iron Man, Thor, or Captain America doesn’t get any action scenes and spends the entire film moping over how much of a dick the bad guy is being." That movie was called Iron Man 3
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5:22PM on 11/20/2014

I'm confused...

So Hunger Games is Mystique in the future and First Class was the beginning and then DOFP happens and in the future is Hunger Games but American Bullshit doesn't fit in anywhere. Mystique wasn't even in that as a blue person. So they shouldn't have split up Battle Royale into four movies and three books. Plus, hardly any of Josh "Personality and skull shape of a wooden box" Hutcherson! JRR Rowling needs to get their shit together!
So Hunger Games is Mystique in the future and First Class was the beginning and then DOFP happens and in the future is Hunger Games but American Bullshit doesn't fit in anywhere. Mystique wasn't even in that as a blue person. So they shouldn't have split up Battle Royale into four movies and three books. Plus, hardly any of Josh "Personality and skull shape of a wooden box" Hutcherson! JRR Rowling needs to get their shit together!
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3:19PM on 11/19/2014

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1:38PM on 11/19/2014
I disagree with a lot of points in this review. I saw Mockinjay last night, and I thought it was "pretty good". The film was well directed, acted, and paced. It's far from perfect, but a 4 out of 10 review score is ridiculous. Bumbray clearly went into this movie with some "they're cutting one book into two movies" hate. I'd personally give Mockingjay Part 1 a 6.5 out of 10, maybe even a 7.
I disagree with a lot of points in this review. I saw Mockinjay last night, and I thought it was "pretty good". The film was well directed, acted, and paced. It's far from perfect, but a 4 out of 10 review score is ridiculous. Bumbray clearly went into this movie with some "they're cutting one book into two movies" hate. I'd personally give Mockingjay Part 1 a 6.5 out of 10, maybe even a 7.
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3:14PM on 11/19/2014
no, I think Chris nailed it on the head. Even the third book in the series is the worst of the 3.
no, I think Chris nailed it on the head. Even the third book in the series is the worst of the 3.
+3
11:32AM on 11/19/2014

Figures.

Pretty much what I figured, that this movie is mostly padding, filler, and basically an extended trailer for the next movie, the one where, hopefully, something will actually friggin' happen. This is why this bullshit about making two movies out of one book needs to stop. Books and movies are two different mediums, condensing is a good thing.
Pretty much what I figured, that this movie is mostly padding, filler, and basically an extended trailer for the next movie, the one where, hopefully, something will actually friggin' happen. This is why this bullshit about making two movies out of one book needs to stop. Books and movies are two different mediums, condensing is a good thing.
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-1
11:19AM on 11/19/2014
It's funny, I expected this movie to be good, but as soon as I saw this article I could tell the review would be bad. I feel like I'm on here so much I get a 6th sense with these reviews haha, has that happened to anyone else?
It's funny, I expected this movie to be good, but as soon as I saw this article I could tell the review would be bad. I feel like I'm on here so much I get a 6th sense with these reviews haha, has that happened to anyone else?
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+0
9:22AM on 11/19/2014

This was expected because of the book

I read the first two books and while I liked the Hunger Games, I loved Catching Fire and felt the same way toward each respective movie. But man Mockingjay was such a difficult book to get through. Not due to any complex and underlying themes, but because it felt like a bunch of empty space. It was extremely boring and halfway like the story was going no where. It was such a struggle to get through as I had no desire to even finish it. The character of Katniss changes so drastically that you
I read the first two books and while I liked the Hunger Games, I loved Catching Fire and felt the same way toward each respective movie. But man Mockingjay was such a difficult book to get through. Not due to any complex and underlying themes, but because it felt like a bunch of empty space. It was extremely boring and halfway like the story was going no where. It was such a struggle to get through as I had no desire to even finish it. The character of Katniss changes so drastically that you would not even think this is the same heroine from the previous games. The Hunger Games are actually what gave the previous books and movies the action. Mockingjay revolves around shooting promos for the rebellion and fighting back against the Capitol and it just doesn't carry the same excitement. Part 2 should be more entertaining as it will be the resolving chapter and carry most of the action but I won't blame this on Francis Lawrence as I will on the Suzanne Collins for writing such a terrible novel to close out her series. A director can only do so much.
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6:56AM on 11/19/2014

Expected

If I were to rate the *books* they would be:
Hunger Games: 8
Catching Fire: 5
Mockingjay: 2

So on the one hand, Chris is right...the movie was true to the book, and since the book sucked, so does the movie (and worse, it's split in half). But unfortunately "what works on paper" was not ON paper....nothing in Mockingjay works...it is a terrible ending to an otherwise wonderful beginning. Kudos for calling it the way it obviously had to be.
If I were to rate the *books* they would be:
Hunger Games: 8
Catching Fire: 5
Mockingjay: 2

So on the one hand, Chris is right...the movie was true to the book, and since the book sucked, so does the movie (and worse, it's split in half). But unfortunately "what works on paper" was not ON paper....nothing in Mockingjay works...it is a terrible ending to an otherwise wonderful beginning. Kudos for calling it the way it obviously had to be.
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9:23AM on 11/19/2014
Agreed. The book was awful. I didn't even care what happened to any of the characters by the end.
Agreed. The book was awful. I didn't even care what happened to any of the characters by the end.
-1
6:48AM on 11/19/2014

works

splitting the bokk worked for potter because the last book is action packed and they wanted to get everything they possibly could in. but with crap like this and the hobbit and twight its just a money spinner.

the first hubger games was poor, the second was good so this doesnt surprise me.
splitting the bokk worked for potter because the last book is action packed and they wanted to get everything they possibly could in. but with crap like this and the hobbit and twight its just a money spinner.

the first hubger games was poor, the second was good so this doesnt surprise me.
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6:58AM on 11/19/2014
LOL...Harry Potter 7 was not "action packed". There were 300 of 700 pages spent moping around the English countryside.
LOL...Harry Potter 7 was not "action packed". There were 300 of 700 pages spent moping around the English countryside.
9:16AM on 11/19/2014
are yoi joking? they spend a few chapters in the countryside, where they where pretty much hiding out. but ots not like things dont happen there including a major part of the story.
are yoi joking? they spend a few chapters in the countryside, where they where pretty much hiding out. but ots not like things dont happen there including a major part of the story.
9:16AM on 11/19/2014
are yoi joking? they spend a few chapters in the countryside, where they where pretty much hiding out. but ots not like things dont happen there including a major part of the story.
are yoi joking? they spend a few chapters in the countryside, where they where pretty much hiding out. but ots not like things dont happen there including a major part of the story.
+1
1:09AM on 11/19/2014
I'd like to say it was a mistake splitting the book into two parts, but the people behind the films know they are going to make a ton of money and fans will like it regardless. In terms of pure filmmaking, it was a huge mistake. The final book is already terrible. Trying to split it up and make it longer can only make it worse. It's no wonder that it's such a boring movie: everything decent about the final book happens later on. Most of this is due to the climactic battles. It's so
I'd like to say it was a mistake splitting the book into two parts, but the people behind the films know they are going to make a ton of money and fans will like it regardless. In terms of pure filmmaking, it was a huge mistake. The final book is already terrible. Trying to split it up and make it longer can only make it worse. It's no wonder that it's such a boring movie: everything decent about the final book happens later on. Most of this is due to the climactic battles. It's so disappointing that they had to go with profit over quality. This series was on such a roll, going as far as to improve upon the second book. But greed has screwed that up and it's really a shame that such a bad film will make so much money, reinforcing nothing about greed not paying off.
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11:34PM on 11/18/2014
Well, that's disappointing. Hopefully like Harry Potter (and the final Hobbit maybe), this film will look better when watched with the next film as one big movie. This trend of splitting movies does have me worried about the quality of Avengers 3, since that will also be split in 2 parts.
Well, that's disappointing. Hopefully like Harry Potter (and the final Hobbit maybe), this film will look better when watched with the next film as one big movie. This trend of splitting movies does have me worried about the quality of Avengers 3, since that will also be split in 2 parts.
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11:06PM on 11/18/2014
I definitely don't think it's a 4 out of 10. Yes, it suffers from "part 1 of 2-itis" but it's a well-made film and the focus on the politics is a plus. The Hunger Games series sets itself apart from others aimed at a similar demographic because it's not merely about what the protagonist wants for herself. If you liked the first films, go see this, but it kind of is like if Return of the Jedi ended after the escape from Jabba's sail barge and you had to wait a year for the rest of it. Being
I definitely don't think it's a 4 out of 10. Yes, it suffers from "part 1 of 2-itis" but it's a well-made film and the focus on the politics is a plus. The Hunger Games series sets itself apart from others aimed at a similar demographic because it's not merely about what the protagonist wants for herself. If you liked the first films, go see this, but it kind of is like if Return of the Jedi ended after the escape from Jabba's sail barge and you had to wait a year for the rest of it. Being split into two parts is a major flaw and a blatant cash-grab but I don't think it irredeemably sinks the movie.
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10:58PM on 11/18/2014
"Mockingjay" was a book that didn't need to be stretched out to two movies. In fact, the book itself could've used a lot of trimming itself.
"Mockingjay" was a book that didn't need to be stretched out to two movies. In fact, the book itself could've used a lot of trimming itself.
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10:53PM on 11/18/2014

4/10? Damn, that's a shame

I thought with the work they did on CATCHING FIRE, that the scriptwriters would be able to take the weakest book in the series (IMO) and do something cool with it. That's a shame, but I'll likely still check it out.
I thought with the work they did on CATCHING FIRE, that the scriptwriters would be able to take the weakest book in the series (IMO) and do something cool with it. That's a shame, but I'll likely still check it out.
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10:46PM on 11/18/2014
I'm glad to hear this movie sucks b/c I can't stand it when Hollywood makes cheap cash grabs like this. Having read the books, I found Mockingjay to be really blah for 3/4 of the book. I knew when they decided to do this that there was no way they could make the Part 1 interesting without adding stuff. It seems they did not, which was obviously a mistake if they wanted to cut the book in half and still entertain the audience.
I'm glad to hear this movie sucks b/c I can't stand it when Hollywood makes cheap cash grabs like this. Having read the books, I found Mockingjay to be really blah for 3/4 of the book. I knew when they decided to do this that there was no way they could make the Part 1 interesting without adding stuff. It seems they did not, which was obviously a mistake if they wanted to cut the book in half and still entertain the audience.
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10:45PM on 11/18/2014
I thought Mockingjay was the weakest of the three books, so this review isn't exactly shocking. Still wish they had made this into one film instead of breaking it into two.
I thought Mockingjay was the weakest of the three books, so this review isn't exactly shocking. Still wish they had made this into one film instead of breaking it into two.
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10:32PM on 11/18/2014

DAMN!

That bad? I'm so bummed.
That bad? I'm so bummed.
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10:31PM on 11/18/2014

That is the problem with splitting this thing into two

There isn't enough material to make it really interesting. Potter was a huge book that had to do it. All these movies are doing it for the money. There is no damn reason why the Hobbit should have been three movies.
There isn't enough material to make it really interesting. Potter was a huge book that had to do it. All these movies are doing it for the money. There is no damn reason why the Hobbit should have been three movies.
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