The last any audience saw of Katniss Everdeen, she had just shot an arrow into the sky, destroying the Hunger Game’s Quarter Quell dome and leaving the watching nation in shock. The first time she appears in the newest Hunger Games addition, “Mockingjay Part 1,” Katniss awakens in a hospital bed screaming and sobbing. Throughout the rest of the film, she never quite moves on from this state of emotion. Paired with a plot line that rests at a high level of intensity but low count of interesting events, “Mockingjay Part 2” will need to work hard to make up for this film’s shortcomings.
As suspected, Panem’s District 13 was not completely wiped out decades ago; rather, it became the meeting grounds for a rebellion against the Capitol and the oppressive President Snow. Here, Katniss wakes up after being rescued from the Quarter Quell only to realize that her home, District 12, has been completely demolished. Only a few hundred people, including her mother, sister, and childhood friend Gale, managed to survive and join the rebellion.
The film’s largest flaw turns out to be the heroine herself. Gone is the cunning, inspirational Katniss of the first two Hunger Games films; instead, “Mockingjay Part 1” paints Katniss as a shaken, uncertain young girl. For example, she never quite catches on to President Snow’s plan to use Peeta, his own secret “mockingjay,” against her.
It is possible that the directors looked back at everything Katniss as a character had gone through in the past two Hunger Games films, decided that she probably had a heavy case of PTSD and decided to portray her as such. However, the weepy, unsteady Katniss of “Mockingjay Part 1” is not an attractive character, though the part is well portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence.
As for the rest of the film, it never truly gets exciting. The majority of the events are fairly predictable, and with no heroine to save the day, they often fall flat on an entertainment level. The short list of positives includes gorgeous cinematography, quality acting and an unexpected plot twist at the end (at least for those who haven’t read the novel).
Unfortunately, “Mockingjay Part 1” falls miles short of “Catching Fire” and rises only slightly above the quality of the first Hunger Games. If you’re looking to be wowed by Jennifer Lawrence’s acting ability but only hoping to be slightly intrigued by the storyline, this is the film for you. Otherwise, don’t hurry to pay for this one in theaters—it can wait until Redbox.
Review Rating: 2/4
Release Date: November 21, 2014
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images and thematic material