Monday, December 1, 2014

[Review] The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part I

The unjust madness of The Hunger Games continues in Mockingjay, the first installment of an obligatory two-part finale. And a revolution is brewing.

Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) awakens during an uprising. The late Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore (who is having a strong year between Maps To The Stars and Still Alice), and Jeffrey Wright (coming of his great performance in Boardwalk Empire) deliver the details about the destructed country. Katniss' home has been wiped away, but the good news is that a couple of the house pets survived. Amidst the unrest, disorder, and impending civil war, Katniss decides to lead the 9 districts in order to overthrow the capitol and free the hostages, which include Peeta (Josh Hutcherson).

While its predecessors were undeniably hostile and bleak, Mockingjay is a considerably darker outing to many extents, even though there might be changes for the better at work. The weapons are bigger, the body count is higher, the land is decrepit, and the actual color palette drabber. Also, it's almost uncanny how a lot of the undertones serve as incredibly timely mirrors of real-world events. 

I haven't read the books, so I can't comment on comparisons, but from a cinematic standpoint, there is a lot of preparation going on here. Nearly 50 minutes go by before there's a leap into action. None of the early stuff is painstaking to watch or anything, but it can't help but feel like filler, especially when the build isn't quite as momentous as you'd want it to be. There's a time when you start to wonder if this will just be one gigantic setup for the next film, but things do pick up and the story brings about some riveting sequences, only to lapse into anti-climactic territory.

The obvious problem with Mockingjay is that it doesn't seem like a whole--because it isn't a whole. The film is an intense sufferer from the ill-fate of being split into two. Diehards might be okay with this, and the franchise is going to make a lot of money, but I personally have no desire to sit through this again. I'm guessing the second half will be more eventful and cathartic, but it also could have lingering effects from being split into two. We'll have to wait another year and two hours to find out.


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