The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is the first half of a two part finale to the hugely successful franchise. Director Francis Lawrence returns to the helm, after the incredibly lucrative Hunger Games: Catching Fire. The films are of course based on the novels of the same name. Lots to talk about, so let's go!
What I liked about the film:
Jennifer Lawrence returns as our hero, Katniss Everdeen. We didn't need this film to tell us that Lawrence is an incredible actress, with unlimited talent. She IS Katniss Everdeen. Lawrence demands our attention, and grabs hold of the audience fairly early on. I noticed that with the darker subject matter of this film, we didn't explore nearly as many sides of Katniss' character. It's understandable, but I enjoyed seeing a more playful, comedic side to Katniss, in previous films. Nonetheless, Lawrence did a phenomenal job and brought her A-game to this picture.
Josh Hutcherson returns as Peeta; and while he has very little screen time, he relays the characters' emotions perfectly. Liam Hemsworth plays Katniss' other love interest, Gale, and portrays a confused and frustrated young man very well. Other notable performances include Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, Elizabeth Banks, Jeffrey Wright and Stanley Tucci.
Philip Seymour Hoffman? Prior to the films completion, Hoffman passed away; leaving a large fan base (myself included), wondering, in what capacity, he would be a part of the film. I was most pleasantly surprised to see that he had a significant role in the film. He has some really terrific scenes, where he gets to show off his incredible range. From angry and frustrated to smart, sarcastic and funny. I am going to miss watching this man on the big screen.
What I didn't like about the film:
Ok, just so you die-hard Hunger Games fanboys and girls are prepared; it's all negative from here. So click off this site if you don't want to hear honest opinion, supported by examples.
Peter Craig and Danny Strong are the writers of the film, but I can't completely blame them for this mishap. The studio, for the most obvious of reasons, decided to split the final book in the series, into two films. We've seen numerous examples of this in the past decade; most notably, the final Harry Potter book. That being said, this film does not accomplish what Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 did; tell a compelling story, AND, set up the epic finale to a beloved franchise. Mockingjay Part 1 is just the beginning of one story.
There is a way to tell a tight knit story, AND slowly build up to final battle we all know is coming. The film is so preoccupied with exploring the different ways governments are run, the way propaganda is used, and how leaders can be manufactured, that it forgets what made the franchise so popular... the combination of a human story, with incredible characters and eye popping spectacle.
The Scope of the Film
I am Legend, a film Francis Lawrence also directed; better juggled character development with the subtlety of a desolate landscape and over the top spectacle. This was not a Hunger Games film, I'm telling you.
All the dislikes you've read above make up this point I'm about to make... the movie was a setup. WE were setup. There is a scene towards the end of the film, where I can guarantee most audiences will assume it's the end of the movie. And in my opinion, it's where the film should have ended. But there's a few more minutes before the movie ends in the most unusual of places. I literally watched filmgoers in my theater look at each other, as if to ask 'is it over?'. It really is a headscratcher as to why it ends there. And if it's fan service to the people who read the book, I'm going to dislike the movie even more. I've always said a book is a book, and a film is a film. They're structured differently, and their stories are told differently. We'll have to wait a year to see where all this setup is going to take us.
It's not the film we were promised