Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 1.01.28 PMMockingjay – Part 1 comes off as filler until the finale

by Kathleen Sharp, ’17

Jennifer Lawrence invaded theaters once again as the girl on fire at the end of last November. What should have been the stunning, action-packed conclusion to the Hunger Games Trilogy was… what? Oh, yes. It was part one. Is this the thought-provoking precursor to battle or a way for filmmakers to make some extra cash? Either way, at the end of Mockingjay, viewers will be left itching for the final installment of the series.

The story picks up after District 12 is bombed by the Capital, leaving nothing but a city of ashes and a handful of survivors that escape to the not-so-lost-anymore District 13. The districts are on the brink of war and looking for a figurehead to lead their rebellion. Naturally, all eyes turn to Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), the teenager who started it all. But, she is still reeling from the loss of the life she once knew. Her home is destroyed, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) is trapped in the Capital, and the stakes have never been higher. The movie follows Katniss as she makes the decision to become the Mockingjay and lead the rebels into a war that is doomed to be bloody.

Now, for those that have read Suzanne Collins’ Mockingjay, you know that the book doesn’t end there. Lately, many of these book-to-movie translations have split the last book into two parts. But, Mockingjay isn’t the 700-some odd pages that J.K. Rowling’s The Deathly Hallows is. Actually, Mockingjay isn’t significantly longer than the first two books in the series. So why did director Francis Lawrence decide to split the movie into pieces? Perhaps it was an attempt to cash in twice. Mockingjay did sell an estimated 123 million dollars in tickets. Despite what Francis Lawrence may have intended, the effect was a movie that seemed like a bridge to the impending finale. Compared to the constant action of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, Mockingjay is downright slow, spending more time talking and far less time fighting. Much of the movie is spent simply trying to convince Katniss to be the Mockingjay. What’s left of the movie is spent creating war propaganda that will convince the districts to take part in the war. The occasional action scene makes its way into the movie, but it remains predominantly staid.

Even with the slow pacing of the movie, the acting, makes it bearable if not entertaining. The actors are excellent all around. Mockingjay- Part One, as with the previous movies, puts a special emphasis on the emotional aspect of Katniss’s story. Jennifer Lawrence, especially, portrays her character with perfect precision, even if the close ups of her face during scenes of “emotional tension” become more than a little repetitive by the end of the film. Also during the movie, Jennifer Lawrence reveals her unusual but enchanting voice in singing “The Hanging Tree” song.

In the past two movies of this series, fight scenes and chase scenes were what kept us on the edges of our seats. It would seem that Mockingjay caters to a different audience, one more patient and willing to accept the idea of delayed gratification. And not to worry, Mockingjay does have scenes that will keep you biting your nails, but viewers looking for an action-packed thriller might want to look elsewhere or simply wait until the next movie comes out and watch the two back-to-back as they probably should have been from the start. Overall, Mockingjay- Part One earns 3.5 out of 5 stars.