The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I is not a bad movie, but it is a dull, uninspired, and downright cynical film. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is now the Debbie Downer of movies about dystopian futures.
The film is cynical, not because of the story, but the filmmakers’ lack of respect for their audience. The new trend of breaking the final chapter of a series into two parts has reached a point in which Mockingjay serves no purpose except as a trailer for Part II.
Almost nothing happens in this film. I enjoyed the first Hunger Games film. Catching Fire, however, was a much more engaging film and set me up to expect something exciting for Mockingjay. Instead, Katniss spends most of the film as a dour puppet of the rebellion against President Snow (Donald Sutherland).
Rather than a film about a group trying to end a totalitarian regime, most of the film is spent with Katniss and a group of video journalists running around the various districts.
There’s a single, brief action scene in the film. If you want action, watch the trailer. All of it is there.
Most of the returning cast also seems to be stuck in downer mode. No one is passionate about anything. Katniss occasionally makes a statement – for propaganda videos – about the horrors of Snow’s attacks. But even Lawrence has a tough time making any of it seem legitimate.
Thankfully, Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) appears in the middle of the film to give it a little energy, but the character doesn’t have much to do after a few witty remarks.
Since the film seems so indifferent to its main character, I’m surprised the filmmakers didn’t do more with the supporting cast. Elizabeth Banks returns as Effie Trinket. Trinket actually goes through some character development, making me wish the film was about her. Josh Hutcherson’s Peeta appears briefly in the movie, but plays an important part. In fact, during the film’s last 20 minutes, he’s the most interesting character. Like Trinket, I was more interested in Peeta’s story than Katniss’.
Mockingjay ends abruptly. It is all set up with no pay off. The film’s contempt for the audience is clear. The filmmakers know everyone will return next year and pay to see the finale.
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