Dr. Donna Copeland’s





 The Twilight, Harry Potter, and Hobbit films have all expanded the source material beyond necessity to gain profit for the studio.  Some succeed in making “Part 1’s” as exciting as the previous and yet-to-come sequels, but Mockingjay - Part 1 feels like butter scraped over too much bread, if I may quote Bilbo Baggins.  For two films we have watched with intensity as these characters fight for their lives, with nearly every scene in those two-hour films advancing the plot while tragedy struck all around Katniss.  Francis Lawrence returns as director and will finish out the series, but this third film isn’t The Hunger Games we have come to love.

 After revolting against President Snow (Sutherland) and the capital, Katniss Everdeen is whisked away to join the Mockingjay rebellion led by President Alma Coin (Moore) and turncoat Plutarch Heavensbee (Hoffman).  They need Katniss to help intensify the rebellion movement in all districts by using her as a poster child.  At first, she refuses, but upon witnessing the total annihilation of District 12, she has no choice.  With Peeta (Hutcherson) still in his grasp, Snow promises Katniss that “people will pay the ultimate price”.  Coin must be cunning and reserved in order to have a chance against the weapons and the numbers of the Capitol.

 One of the only highlights of the film is the beefed-up role of Effie Trinket (Banks), whose character was little more than a blurb in the final book.  Effie might be complaining about missing all her fantastic wigs while she is down in the bunker of District 13, but Jennifer Lawrence has certainly found one, ill-fitting and burly looking it may be.  It’s instantly obvious that the Oscar-winning actress is wearing a wig as Katniss this time around; her face is covered and hidden for most of the film, which is the shortest of the series so far.  With no games this time for Katniss to harness her skill and intuition, for much of the film she fusses around giving speeches, yelling for Peeta, Primrose, or whoever else dotes on her hysterics.  The two presidents, however, are playing a game of Battleship, as they retaliate back and forth, but much of the action is done off screen.

 You could almost skip Part 1 and dive into Part 2 without really missing anything important.  All the suspense and story-advancement is saved for the final 20 minutes of Part 1; thankfully, it’s somewhat worth the wait.  There are no battles, no fights to the death, no real game-changers; everything is saved for what will be the dramatic series conclusion.  The love triangle tension is almost completely ignored, as the film’s second greatest asset, Josh Hutcherson, is only featured on video monitor for most of the film.  This does allow Hemsworth the most screen time he has gotten in the entire series, not that it’s a plus for the viewer, since Gale is uninteresting and poorly developed by the script and his acting ability.  Katniss singing the Mockingjay song was as close to emotional as Mockingjay - Part 1 dares to get, and the momentum of the series suffers from the restraint.

 Final Thought – The action adventure series takes a disappointing and unnecessary pause.

 Grade B-

By: Dustin Chase

 I found this sequel rather a disappointment; it was one note practically all the way through (mostly war), with a scene of excitement and tension thrown in here and there.  War scenes and rescue missions are often so dark it’s impossible to see what is taking place.  Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) shows brilliance every now and then, but mostly she is tearful and wringing her hands.  She does give some stirring speeches to the working people, and they respond to her enthusiastically.  And I did very much enjoy the song she sings without accompaniment, which so moves the people it becomes a rallying cry for the rebel cause and justice.

 I have concluded that much of the fault for the movie’s not drawing the audience in more lies in the script by Peter Craig and Danny Strong.  It simply is not very interesting.  Philip S. Hoffman and Julianne Moore are two of my favorite actors, but the lines written for them do not allow for their incredible acting prowess to show through.  They certainly did as much as they could with what was given to them.

 The picture largely focuses on the rebel group recruiting Katniss to be its standard-bearer and publicity figure, strategizing ways to thwart the Capitol, and whipping up support from the populace.  The Capitol kept Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Katniss’ love, Annie, and Johanna at the end of the games, and the rebels are intent on retrieving them.  Much of Katniss’ distress centers around what President Snow (Donald Sutherland) will do to Peeta; she worries he will kill him.  The rebels have done well in amassing military force and technology, so they think they have a fighting chance to overcome the Capitol.  Beetee (Jeffrey Wright), the chief technologist, uses ingenuity in devising a way to jam the Capitol’s networks and show speeches given by the rebels.  He can also track what’s going on in other parts of Panem.  And while the group has major successes, it dawns on Katniss by the end what the devious, evil President Snow has up his sleeve.  Thus the movie ends on a very low note.  Part 2, coming out next year, will wrap it up.  (I do agree with others that splitting up the ending into two parts with a year in between was a mistake.)

War scenes and more war scenes.

Grade:  C+  

By Donna R. Copeland