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Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1

Part 1 is a promising prequel but not much else.

Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1

Director Francis Lawrence took a risk directing “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1,” and an even bigger risk when he decided to divide the final book into two films. While splitting the final film of book adaptations seems to be all the current rage, fans know that the final book in the “Hunger Games” series is controversial. 

Some fans love the final book, while others say it’s the worst in the series. Lawrence, despite these conflicts, crafted a film that in some ways is better than its literary counterpart. Though slow-moving, the film never seems to drag on. It does however, feel a bit like a transition film, in which the characters are all amping up for the hecticness of civil war rather than actually fighting. 

The film opens up right where “Catching Fire” left off, with Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”) facing the reality that she, not Peeta (Josh Hutcherson, “Bridge to Terabithia”), was rescued from the games. 

It is revealed that District 13 was not completely incinerated, but rather is a working rebellion force. District 13, headed by President Coin (Julianne Moore, “The Kids Are All Right”), wants Katniss to be the face of the rebellion, known as the Mockingjay. They need Katniss to invigorate the people and to help bring current skirmishes to full-blown civil war.

Katniss struggles between the idea of being the Mockingjay and keeping Peeta, who's in the Capital’s clutches, safe. This dilemma is one of the focal points of the movie. 

Jennifer Lawrence is once again believable in her role as Katniss and carries much of the film with her battling emotions. Effie (Elizabeth Banks, “Pitch Perfect”) and Haymitch (Woody Harrelson, “No Country for Old Men”) once again cleverly provide the little comedy that is included in the dark picture. Many of the new cast additions play their parts well but don’t add much excitement to a plot that could use a good dose of it.  

“Mockingjay, Part 1” is undoubtedly the darkest movie of the series thus far. Scenes of wreckage and the aftermath of capital attacks haunt not only Katniss but the audience as well. The film’s cinematography is perhaps its best aspect. When presented with soaring musical numbers, moviegoers feel they ought to take a stand and join rebel ranks. 

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1” is less lackluster than the book it represents. However, despite good acting and cinematography, the movie seems to be a prequel to the real excitement that is to come in “Mockingjay, Part 2.” Watching “Part 1” feels like watching the trailers that lead up to a film but never actually gets to the main attraction. 

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1” (PG-13, 123 min) is now playing in local theaters.

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