The Gustavian Weekly

Mockingjay misses the mark | The Gustavian Weekly

By Brady Lass Staff Writer | March 20, 2015 | Variety

2-star

The popular young adult dystopian film adaptations based on Suzanne Collins Hunger Games trilogy are coming to a close. Following the trend popularized by Harry Potter, the final installment is split into two parts, with part two coming in November.

Whether one loves or hates these movies, there’s no denying the impact they’ve had in the last couple of years by popularizing the genre and encouraging filmmakers to adapt other young adult dystopian literature for the big screens.

As a warning for fans of the series, I have not read any of the Hunger Games books, so I can’t criticize if it’s an accurate or inaccurate adaptation from the book. However, many who have read the book claim it is the worst of the trilogy. Are those flaws present in part one of this thrilling conclusion?

Taking place after Catching Fire, Katniss now takes refuge in the heart of the rebellion, District 13. She is reunited with Gale, her mother, and her sister Prim, but Peeta has been captured by the Capitol because the rebellion left him behind and chose to rescue Katniss instead.

The Rebel leader, President Alma Coin, wants Katniss to become the symbol of their rebellion in the form of the “Mockingjay,” since her actions in the battlefield of the Hunger Games inspired other districts to spark riots and strikes against the Capitol.

Katniss refuses at first, since the rebels did not rescue Peeta, but after seeing her former home in ruins and the Capitol use Peeta as propaganda to quiet the riots, she agrees with the condition that the rebels rescue Peeta and other victors taken hostage at the end of the last movie.

The film nicely explores the world created by Collins, allowing audiences to see new locations rather than revisiting those in the previous movies.

It was also intriguing to see the fallout of Catching Fire and how the rebellion and the Capitol battle with both violence and propaganda.

The film has a strong cast including Woody Harrelson, Julianne Moore, and the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Jennifer Lawrence once again carries the franchise on her back, but when compared to her other roles in Winter’s Bone, Silver Linings Playbook and even X-Men: First Class, Katniss just does not seem as strong considering the young actress’ abilities.

Compared to the last two entries of the series, Mockingjay: Part 1 is slow paced and lacks action, which makes it tedious at times. Granted this installment doesn’t include a Hunger Games event.

The only thing I’ll compliment is how Part 1 ends: I’m interested to see how the twist at the end plays out in part two.

While Mockingjay: Part 1 does a good job  pulling the audience in the dystopian world of Katniss Everdeen and has strong performances, it falls short of the previous two films due to its slow pace and lack of action.

Even if the film doesn’t take place in the arena, it is a bit jarring to go from high stakes survival to narrowly making a lockdown because Katniss’ sister wanted to save her cat.

Ever since Harry Potter, we have rarely had a film where dividing the source material into two or three movies benefits the story and quality of the product. I hope the trend doesn’t last much longer.

-Brady Lass