The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014) Directed by Francis Lawrence. With Jennifer Lawrence, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson and Liam Hemsworth. 

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As has become the tradition with film franchises that generate aircraft carriers full of cold hard cash, Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy is fleshed out to four films, splitting the final instalment, Mockingjay, into two parts.  To help broaden the canvas, Catching Fire director, Francis Lawrence, is joined by a new writing team of Peter Craig and Danny Strong, during which the story of the Katniss revolution goes underground to plan its final move against ‘the capital‘ and President Donald Sutherland.

One thing this series has always had in its ranks, is the finest acting talent, so adding Julianne Moore alongside Jennifer Lawrence, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Stanley Tucci serves to extend the acting credentials far above the level of your average workaday blockbuster. It’s a shame then, that portions of these films have a distinctly workaday feel to them. Indeed, much of what happens in Mockingjay –  Part One feels too much like a set-up for an almighty climax. Big chunks of it feel like the first hour of The Martrix Reloaded, (the bit in Zion where nothing happens) but with better dialogue and better acting and okay…better everything.  There’s no doubt the next film will be better (they probably said that for The Matrix Revolutions) but you sense it could have all been contained within one film. Of course, the box office demands otherwise.

Through all the smoke plumes, concrete rubble and mildly annoying bits of exposition, Jennifer Lawrence is never anything less than excellent. There’s a real humility to her portrayal of Katniss Everdeen, demonstrating that genuine power comes from within. The character is never exploited or sexualised, representing a beacon of light for high-profile, young female roles. It’s as if all of a sudden, you don’t need to sacrifice character in favour of being pretty to gain validation in the mainstream. More of this please, Hollywood.

Given the uprisings across the real world, most prominently reported throughout the middle east and Ukraine, the overarching narrative of The Hunger Games resonates beyond the realms of sheer entertainment. On this level, there is a disquieting truth to the story –  a world in which propaganda and media are the most effective weapons to deceive, suppress or ignite the masses. 3/5

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About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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14 Responses to The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. Sounds like a Battle Royale 2 rehash (?)

  2. Out of the first three, I thought Part 1 was the worst. I understood that the whole movie was practically setting us all up for the BIG stuff that Part 2 would bring, but….. I really couldn’t get over how awful Katniss’ wig was. Totally unrealistic. It makes me cringe just thinking about it!

    • garethrhodes says:

      You know, in all honesty, I didn’t even twig that she was wearing a wig. Now that you mention it though….damn, you’re absolutely right. Why didn’t I spot that!?

      I agree with you, there is an overall feeling of treading water here. We know there are bigger things brewing, and rather than having its own identity as a film, it acts as a bridge. I’m certain all of this could’ve been housed under one Mockingjay roof.

  3. I thought Francis Lawrence did a good job of understanding the depth of the book to make the movie more effective. Better than Gary Ross’ work on the first film.

    I’m hoping to see Part 2 in this year’s Oscar nominations list, even if it’s just in the Best Visual Effects category. A franchise this good needs some recognition. Great review, Gareth.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you Robin, I’m optimistic about Part 2. All the pieces are in position for a rousing finale and I suspect we’ll see the most accomplished film in the series. There are things I liked about Part 1, but it couldn’t escape its prison as a bridge movie. It’s a lot to ask of an audience to pay to see a film that is effectively just treading water for 2-hours. The amazing cast got me through large portions of it. I could watch Julianne Moore read tax legislation and not get bored.

    • Michelle says:

      I’m hoping to see Part 2 in the Awards nominees too

  4. Kgothatjo Magolego says:

    I really enjoyed this film. Felt it delved really well into the political aspect of Hunger Games, which I think is the best feature of the film. There are moments when the film drags but I’m enjoying the set up for the climax.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Regarding the political aspect, I completely agree. I think these films have a very important message at the heart of them. This isn’t just good vs evil in the Star Wars sense of the words, it’s something that can be applied very directly to what is going on in our world. On the whole, there was enough to keep me invested – genuinely looking forward to seeing how it all wraps up. Thanks for stopping by again, it’s always good to hear from you.

  5. Chris Evans says:

    Great review Gareth, I’m yet to see any of the Hunger Games saga – I plan to one day but it’s not been something I’ve been desperate to rush out to the cinema to see. However, as you point out there is some top tier casting and it the series should be worth a look for that at the very least!

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you Chris, there are many elements of the series that I like very much, I only wish that I could change ‘like’ to ‘love’. I hope you catch up with them at some point, I’d be very interested to read your reviews.,

  6. Michelle says:

    Good review. I really liked this one. The acting and build up was pretty good. And I do admit to having a little feeling of “That’s it?!” when the credits came. But I still think they did a little bit better at describing Katniss’s PTSD than the book did.

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you. Yes, the ending has a ‘cliffhanger-of-the-week’ feel to it – very much like something we’d see on TV. There’s good stuff, though, and I’m looking forward to Part 2.

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