For those who haven’t read the book, Mockingjay Part 1 may feel like a dragged out, monotonous film, void of the action which has frequented the two previous installments. For those familiar with the story, however, the first part of Suzanne Collins’ final book in the Mockingjay trilogy serves as a well paced and well structured build up, maintaining Collins’ social commentary on war and politics.
The film kicks off in District 13, thought to be long destroyed by the Capitol. Francis Lawrence does a brilliant job at captivating the simplicity and conformity of the district as well as the various Victors’ adaptation to their new enviroment. However, District 13 is nearly the only thing that the audience experiences throughout the entire movie as there isn’t much of Panem left to see. While Katniss and company venture into Districts 8 and 12, it never feels like they linger around for long enough to break from seeing so much of one place. It feels at times as though there’s far too much idling around and not enough footage of the rebellions taking place around the districts.
One of the things that has always made the films so distinguishable from the books is it’s ability to be able to tell the story through the eyes of those other than Katniss. While Jennifer Lawrence once again excels with her outstanding performance of the ever dwindling mental state of the District 12 victor, many of the other characters get left in the shadows and their characters aren’t given enough time to develop. Seeing more scenes between Plutarch and Coin or even slight snippets from the Capitol would have given a broader insight to the ongoings of the upcoming war and the rebellion while giving the avid readers of the book a new standpoint to sink their teeth in to.
Negativities aside, the film is acutely aware of the social commentry Collins’ was attempting to achieve in the books. An underlying tone of war and politics constantly runs throughout and manages to tie it all together. They deal with the deteriorating mental health of Katniss in a sensitive and dignified way, though Sam Claflin’s Finnick Odair seems to get thrown to the sidelines in terms of his struggling mental state. Despite the lack of action compared to the previous films Mockingjay stll maintains a thick atmosphere of intensity as the story progresses into its climactic cliffhanger. The visual effects are as astounding as ever and aid the brilliantly filmed shots with grace and subtlety, helping to inject some realism into a futuristic world.
Overall while the film lets itself down in terms of its character development, it manages to move along at a nice pace despite the fact the story and the world seem to be at a stand-still for the majority of the time. It builds up at the end fabulously leaving the audience wanting more, even if they also leave feeling like nothing really happened.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is out in cinemas now and is released on DVD and Blu-Ray March 16, 2015.