I saw Mockingjay: Part 1 on opening night and I hate to admit it, but I was a bit disappointed. Granted, in my opinion, the source material wasn’t as engrossing as the first two books, but, still, I had such high hopes going into the film. Director Francis Lawrence came into THG series with such gusto, partly because he had something to prove, given the criticism of the first film. In Catching Fire, the storytelling was tight and engaging – almost leaving no room to catch your breath and leaving you on the edge of your seat. However, with the return of his sophomore film in the series, it fell short and felt flat. Here are my gripes…
SCS or Shaky Camera Syndrome has got to stop. When done well and/or in moderation, it’s slightly annoying. But, when the majority of the film makes you feel like you’re on a Tilt-A-Whirl, it’s A) very distracting from what’s actually happening on screen B) makes me want to vomit and C) very annoying. I get some DPs want to make you feel like you’re in the action, but this is an adaptation to a YA novel – not Saving Private Ryan. The only reasons I’d actually want to feel like I’m in the film is if Daniel Craig is starring opposite me in the next Bond film, or it has anything to do with Jamie Fraser. Then, yes, throw me all the way into the film.
In my opinion, splitting the last novel in to two films was a mistake. It could have been easily attainable as one solid film. The first 45 minutes of the film is almost a complete snooze-fest. I was growing restless and I could hear my fellow audience members constantly shifting in their seats as well. Create some drama! You’re in a technically advanced district who’ve survived underground in a bomb shelter. That’s some pretty good material. Nope. Everything is bland, lackluster and efficient. Even Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) looked bored. Which leads me to my next point…
I understand Katniss and gang spend a majority of their time underground, but the lighting was atrocious. In some cases, you could barely see the actors and their expressions because of 1) SCS and 2) poor lighting. Again, this district has created a self-sufficient system, throw some pizzazz into the environment!
I had some major eye roll moments and one was the unveiling of Katniss’ Mockingjay suit. By right, she is a strong heroine, who thinks for herself, is handy with a weapon and actually cares about casualties of war. HOWEVER, “they” still felt the need to sexualize her by creating a molded breast plate. Seriously? It completely defeats the purpose of who Katniss is and what she stands for. Although, the rest of the suit is pretty sick.
Mockingjay, both the film and novel, brings a bit more insight to Gale and Katniss’ convoluted relationship. Gale is finally a contributor in the story, rather than a spectator. Regrettably, there’s something different about how Gale appears on paper versus film. I never realized this before, but Gale, or Liam Hemsworth, is a rather pathetic character. I had an epiphany last night and likened him to Chewy from Star Wars. He’s a big lug who isn’t very useful, causes problems and awkwardly hovers over Katniss. What’s more is, Gale makes Katniss feel bad about how she deals with her PTSD. Wow, Gale, you’re a regular stand up guy.
Alright. I’m done moaning and groaning. Now, on to what I did like.
When it was announced that Julianne Moore would be playing President Coin, I was skeptical. However, I thought her performance of the cool, collected and secretive leader was spot on. At first she appeared to be sympathetic to the horrors Katniss faced, but as the film went on, she slowly started to reveal her true colors. Everything about her portrayal completely reflected the collective attitude of the ominous District 13. Coin makes tough decisions and doesn’t apologize if a few people get hurt along the way. She’s a dictator, through and through, and will do anything to see the perseverance of her people.
As heavy as THG films are, I’m always pleasantly surprised by the snippets of comic relief thrown in. Effie, who doesn’t actually appear in District 13 in the novel, is essentially a POW in the film. So, it was a fantastic move to involve her in the story. Effie (Elizabeth Banks) somehow manages to downplay the atrocities and hardships surrounding her, and make minor issues, like clothing, hairstyle and makeup seem like the biggest problems in the world.
Plus, you get to see her wearing a jumpsuit. It’s worth it. I just LOVE her! Another happy surprise is the inclusion of Buttercup the Cat (the right one). On cue, she hisses at Katniss during the perfect moments, and provides comedy only a cat can bring: trying to catch light from a flashlight. And, obviously, it wouldn’t be a true HG film without the witty, playful banter between Katniss and Haymitch.
Okay, so obviously the movie wasn’t all bad. I’m just calling it like I see ‘em. I remember when I left the cinema last year there was an unmistakable buzz and energy from the crowd. Not so much this time around.
This film was a means to an end to prepare the audience for the epic conclusion…next year. My favorite film is still Catching Fire but we’ll see how everything comes together for Part 2!
Have you seen Mockingjay Part I? Do you agree or disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
23 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review – Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I (2014)”
It did a lot of neat, interesting things with its story, but by the end, just revealed itself to be nothing more than just an unnecessary movie. Good review.
Hey Dan. Yep, it’s wholly unnecessary, more of a cash grab from the studio. The pacing is way too slow in the beginning, it’s so obvious they’re stretching the scene just so they have enough for a 2 hr movie.
Great review here Ruth. This is what I was worried about with the book being split – unnecessarily filler crap all over the show. Dammit. Looks like a disappointment. However, I am still excited to see it, but I am going in there not expecting too much 😦
Dammit. Great review ASHLEY, not Ruth, sorry about that! I was reading, typing, working. Bad combination altogether I must admit.
Haha, it’s okay!
Yea, I was worried about this as well, but also knew I wasn’t a fan of the last book. People are still going to see the movie, and I hope they do, but they shouldn’t be expecting a spectacular film 😦
😦 That’s so disappointing to hear.
Nice review. I will go see it and get back to you.
Hi Kathleen, welcome to FC! Hope you enjoy this one more than Ashley and I 🙂
Solid review Ashley. I thought the first film was pretty good. I was really impressed with the second movie. Sad to hear that this one putters a bit. I agree on the spastic camera technique that seems prevalent in so many action scenes. So often it is done to the point of annoyance.
I’ve also heard other people say that it shouldn’t have been broken into two final movies. But that allure of money….
Thanks! Even though the first film had SCS as well, it, thankfully, didn’t last the entire film. However, with the momentum the second film built, it was a shame to see it fizzle out with part 1. I understand studios want to cash in on any successful film franchises, but at what point does someone speak up and say enough is enough! If you can get it done in 1 film, then more power to you.
I like the way you wrote the review Ashley, I might have to copy your style when I see movie I sort of like but not in love with, lol. I enjoyed the first film, the last one was okay to me. I’ll probably see this one soon but not happy that they have too many of those stupid shaky cam during action scenes. I thought directors and DPs are done using that technique now, it’s so annoying. We go see action movies to see the ACTION, not getting confuse as to what is going on on the screen.
Thanks, Ted! Go right ahead. 🙂
Like I said, the film wasn’t a complete bust, but the bad parts were enough of an annoyance to really distract from the storytelling. I don’t get SCS either, but unfortunately looks like we’ll have to suffer through it for a few more years…
Nice review, Ashley. I personally went in with far lower expectations having not liked the previous film at all, and as such was not nearly as disappointed as you were. That said, I still have my gripes with this thing nonetheless, haha. I did enjoy Effie in this quite a bit, however! 😛
Very in-depth review. I’ve kind of lost interest in this series. One film was enough for me. I enjoyed the first one, I have to admit but I had no interest in continuing my time with these characters (despite Lawrence being such a good actress).
Nicely done Ashley. Loved the first two, not so sure about how I’ll feel about seeing this one.
Seeing this tonight. Following all the reviews I have read, expectations are low.
Hi there, Ashley! Ya know, echoing what some other people have said, I went into this movie with low expectations, because I really, REALLY don’t like the fact that this movie got made just for money. It is a cash grab. However, I didn’t really have as many issues with it. In fact, I found it more interested than reading the first half of the book. I didn’t think there was as much SCS in Mockingjay Pt. 1 as there was in the first THG film. I also really appreciated that they offered more information from other characters’ perspectives, versus solely from Katniss’s. I think the pacing certainly could have been faster, but I was never bored. Perhaps just less intrigued than when I was during the first two films. That said, I think ASIDE from the major issue that they never should have divided the final book into two films, one of the biggest differences between Mockingjay Pt. 1 and the previous two films is that there is an entirely different structure for the third film given the new story we have in Mockingjay. So I think that came into play as well. Great thoughts here, and lots of good points. I enjoyed the structure of your review – very cool!
Well detailed and concise review!
Cats never get enough credit for the drama and comedy they often bring to films.
Also. shouldn’t one remove gaudy jewelry before donning clear (Blue or pink Playtex gloves just wouldn’t work with Effie’s ultra dark gray, empty pocket laden jumpsuit) and performing acts of physical labor?
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I watched this one last week and it turned out to be, like, a wasted 2 hours. You know, there’s barely significant things happened in the movie. Its lack of brutality and, obviously, lack of “grip” to keep the audiences attracted.
Agree whole heartedly with this review! Unfortunately… right?! I was expecting so much more. Kind of annoyed by it, I came home from watching super disappointed, even my husband was like you haven’t said one word about the movie, I thought you would come home excited about this. So yes super sad about it, but overall a decent movie. I would put it right in the realm of middle ground.
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I just saw this, and I was also a little disappointed, after the thrill ride of Catching Fire. The pacing was my biggest issue, as there’s really ONE movie here. Hopefully, Mockingjay Part 2 will be better.