Film Review: Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

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Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 Plot:

Following the Quarter Quell, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is selected to become thevoice of a revolution. Serving as a symbol of hope for all who are anti-Capitol, Katniss’ biggest concern right now is rescuing Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), who seems to be under the thumb of her enemies.

Many would agree that the novel Mockingjay pales in comparison to its predecessors. It’s much slower, and does not have the build up of “What will the arena be like for the Hunger Games battle?” Honestly, I had a ton of problems with the book, but thankfully, the film (first half anyway) does fare way better.

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First, let’s get this out of the way; I know that these successful book franchises feel the need to “split up” the final novel in order to cover everything (*cough cough* or make more money *cough cough*) but where as Harry Potter kind of benefited from it because well, those books are long as anything and elements were necessary to explain. Mockingjay needed to be one complete movie though. There are pacing issues and because of the added fluff, you can feel the movie suffer. On the other hand, is also to the film’s benefit (and I guess to the problems as well) that the beginning does not follow the book so closely in the District 13 hospital, because that stuff was unnecessary. However, since we get so much good stuff in the first hour, the second hour is left with a lot of dull moments.

It’s the actors that keep it going, really. Phillip Seymour Hoffman, in one of last roles, really makes his mark as one of the people pushing Katniss forth as this rebellious leader. Hoffman’s presence as an actor shines here, and I still can’t believe he’s gone.

Julianne Moore enters the franchise as President Coin, the only new character who you spend enough time with to care about. You fully believe in her cause whether it be about Katniss or tackling the Capitol by offensive or defensive means.

Woody Harrelson does a fine job as Haymitch. He’s not in the film much, same for Hutcherson. However, Hutcherson gives us some compelling moments, especially near the end of the movie. The other male interest for Katniss, Gale (Liam Hemsworth) is ok. He’s just kind of there though. Also Donald Sutherland is still slimy cool as President Snow, the big bad of the series.

Rounding out the pack is Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, the seamstress for Katniss. Banks actually steals scenes, providing a lot of comedic relief. Finally, there’s the girl on fire, Jennifer Lawrence. Once again, J-Law proves she’s got what it takes to be a great actress. Despite Katniss’ hesitation to be the Mockinjay, you root for her and Ms. Lawrence adds drama and comedic chops to the fold. Plus, she sings too, and the girl has got some good vocals going on! Man, my crush on her grows even stronger.

I am actually glad that Francis Lawrence, the director of Catching Fire, came back to helm this one, because he definitely knew how to structure the action and tension well enough in the second movie of the series, which still stands as my favorite of the pack. Truth be told, it would be a hard task to make Mockingjay better than the movies before it; the story just isn’t as engaging.

With that being said, Mockingjay Part 1 is better than the original Hunger Games, but then again, it’s tough to even say that because this is just the first part of a two part movie. However, I do think the quality of this one is better than the first, so take that for what its worth.

Rating: 7/10

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Logan J. Fowler is a senior writer and video game editor on Po-Break.com. He contributes his thoughts every week for Trailer Tuesday and has his own column called “A Link to the Past.” Logan’s “kid at heart” nature has led to his discussion about pop culture that many geeks love to talk about, including superheroes, Super Mario Bros., Pixar, and Muppets, amongst other things. In addition, one of his first pieces for the site, “Top Ten Comic Book Movies,” was picked as a “Freshly Pressed” piece by WordPress and remains one of the site’s most well-read articles. Currently, Logan works as a Special Education Instructional Assistant at Roosevelt School in Manville NJ. At the present moment, he is enrolled in Rutgers Online courses, pursuing a Teacher of Student with Disabilities certification. He graduated from Wagner College in 2005 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and in 2007 with a Master of Science in Education Degree in Birth-6th Grade Literacy. Also many of Logan’s friends have said that he moonlights as Spider-Man but this is so not true. Wait, are those police sirens I’m hearing?! Gotta go! -thwipp-

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