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Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

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The Hunger Games4Splitting a single novel into multiple movies; the new trend from movie studios determined to get every penny you can. They don’t care about story or character development. They want to make as much money as possible and will go to some seriously ridiculous lengths to do so. I understand that it’s a business first but something Hollyweird executives seem to forget is that it is people like myself that fund their highly inflated salaries. In recent years the most notable franchises that have been subjected to this were the Harry Potter series, and the biggest case of stretching single source material out, The Hobbit trilogy. These cash grabs, however obvious, have benefited from one thing, they are done well despite their stories being stretched thin. Mockingjay was not able to pull this off. There are brief pockets of action so sparsely placed throughout a very short run time (under two hours) that it hardly makes up for this lackluster follow-up to a really great film, Catching Fire. Of course these brief moments are what the trailers focused on, mostly luring gullible teens into thinking they were going to see another Catching Fire when in reality Mockingjay is more political and boring. Showing what this movie really is wouldn’t have boded well for their sales so of course they lied. Well it’s not exactly lying but is it honest either? Not to me.

The Hunger Games2As someone who isn’t a big fan of the franchise I was really pulled in with Catching Fire and my interest grew quite a bit. I wanted to know what was next for Katniss and Co. Instead what we get is an over-inflated and highly prolonged “trailer” for what will eventually be Part 2. There is so much unnecessary fodder that has been inserted for nothing more than a longer run time, which they clearly had a difficult time reaching. Catching Fire clocked in at just under 150 minutes and Mockingjay couldn’t even crack the two hour mark. To me this is a big indication that they didn’t have enough material for two films but were too bent on making more damn profit that it didn’t matter. There are numerous moments of meaningless encounters that don’t propel the story whatsoever. All I am saying is instead of getting one last epic and action packed grand finale they are going to get two mediocre halves to a wasted storyline. Is Part 1 awful, absolutely not; is it a worthy follow-up to Catching Fire, absolutely not.

The Hunger Games3If you want an action/adventure film starring Jennifer Lawrence go back and watch Catching Fire again because you won’t find it with Mockingjay. This film is largely what they are GOING to do; what their ultimate plans are to finally take down the evil President Snow. None of that is shown in this part; apparently that’s what Part 2 is meant to do. This franchise’s biggest asset has always been its cast and in that regard this is another success. Jennifer Lawrence puts in another strong lead performance along with Liam Hemsworth in support as well as Woody Harrelson and Josh Hutcherson in tow. Their scenes are all strong, but unfortunately the material they are reading from is a progression to nowhere. This film really feels like it doesn’t go anywhere. It’s an hour and fifty minutes of Lawrence wailing and the rest of the cast trying to convince her character of her importance in the war against Snow. As if she hasn’t been through enough in the first two films, we need another one to convince her? By the end of the film it leaves you with a feeling of “Get to it already or end it!”

The Hunger Games5It has moments that are in fact entertaining, but the feeling that it’s all going nowhere (not yet at least) was inescapable to me. I could have skipped this and waited for Part 2 and not missed a thing. I just can’t help but be disappointed because the second film actually managed to get me to like a film adapted from a young adult novel. Trust me when I say that is no easy feat. I hate this sudden influx of YA novels mostly because, much like the material itself, the films are half-assed and rushed to make a quick profit. The problem is there are people who are going to keep spending money on them, which means this plague of mediocre movies isn’t going to end anytime soon. Keep funding garbage and they will keep shoveling it out. See Twilight for prime example. I will end my review by saying this; if you are a big fan of the franchise it might be wise to lessen your expectations a smidge but I think you will like it regardless of what anyone like me says. You’ve already made up your mind about this film and if you love it then I say God bless. It just wasn’t for me and that’s okay. It’s not bad but it’s not great; lukewarm I would say.

Rated PG-13 For: intense sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images and thematic material
Run Time: 123 minutes (This includes end credits)
After Credits Scene: None
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks
Directed By: Francis Lawrence

Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 2/ Acting: 4/ Directing 3.5/ Visuals: 3
OVERALL: 3 Nerdskulls

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