While Mockingjay Part 1 is a solid film and will certainly satisfy fans of the franchise, it still has the misfortune of being the “inbetweener” of the series; neither a fresh introduction, nor a climactic finale. It is simply a big giant two hour trailer for Part 2. That is the biggest downfall of the film, which is really quite good…if you have seen the first two films. As a stand alone film, it will certainly only generate an ample amount of confusion and frustration. Another, and not necessarily bad, thing to note is that this installment of the series is about as similar to the first two films as an apple is to an orange. It is the same story, but in an entirely different setting with a much darker and depressing tone.
I am continuously befuddled as to how this series is labeled “young adult” or “tween.” This series, especially Mockingjay Part 1, is full of some heavy material that even I was disturbed by. Things like child prostitution, genocide, and post traumatic stress disorder. Are these “tweens” even phased by this stuff? By the death count and mental damage that occurs to these characters? The dark themes and political subtext is what makes the series, in my opinion, so high caliber and real. Are “tweens” mature enough for this sort of content or does it just go right over their heads like another news story on TV? Is it the heavy themes or love triangle that drives them to the theater? I don’t know. Sure, the action scenes are cool, but…..moving on.
It is no surprise that the performances are the strength of the film. Jennifer Lawrence has that leading lady material that many others strive for all their lives. Her performance is realistic, raw, and without vanity, which is extremely admirable. Julianne Moore gives a chilling portrayal of the silver haired and eerily mysterious President Alma Coin and Philip Seymour Hoffman (Plutarch Heavensbee) delivers the best yet again in his final film role. Though he only has a small part in the film, Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) gives his most impressive performance of the series, which is as equally heartbreaking as it is disturbing.
A wonderful addition to the cast is the electrifying and charismatic Natalie Dormer (Cressida), who not only completely manages to erase her thick British accent, but also went as far as to shave the side of her head for the role. As usual, Elizabeth Banks graces us with some comic relief with her portrayal of the fiery, and far more casual, Effie Trinket.
Bottom line, this film is definitely worth your time and money and will most likely be the biggest box office success of the year. So really, there is no point in me telling you to go see it because you probably already have tickets. Enjoy!