Well the latest installment of the newest mega franchise has been released and it has cleaned house already at the ole’ box office, making certain people instantly salivate at the prospects of the overall business for the final film to be released in exactly one year. “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” is a big, expensive set up for the last movie, the story telling lamb sacrificed at the altar of monster profits, a truly compelling yarn discarded in favor of two hours of preamble.
For those folks not keeping track, there’s this chick named Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), and she lives in a dystopian future of poverty and immense wealth disparity, and she is also a past winner of The Hunger Games, an annual event in which children are pitted against each other in a combat to the death, broadcast to the masses and sold as entertainment. Through her involvement in this, she got mixed up in some rebellion, as the impoverished masses are close to organizing into an uprising against The Capitol, and she somehow becomes the face of the rebellion. Got it? Okay. Because that’s all this movie is about. The rebels, who are literally underground, create propaganda videos featuring Katniss to broadcast to all the different poor districts of their world in an effort to get everyone to rebel at once.
Really quick, want to point out two things. First off, they decide to call the propaganda videos something silly like “propavids” or “propos” or something, I don’t know, but it just killed me because people in this movie have names like Katniss (which sounds like cat piss), Peeta, Maymitch, Plutarch, Pollux, shit like that, and they couldn’t leave well enough alone, they also had to come up with a dumb name for the propaganda films. And secondly, there’s a moment where they show one of the propaganda videos they produced, and it’s pretty much a teaser trailer for the movie they are already in. It is a very “Spaceballs” kind of moment.
Also these are the last movies to feature Philip Seymour Hoffman, which is a bummer because it’s not exactly Shakespeare, know what I mean? But of course he committed to the role 100% and did a great job with the little bit given to him. Actually all the actors are quite good in the movie, and it’s nice to see Julianne Moore have a sizeable role in this thing, and of course we got a little bit of Woody Harrelson and an okay amount of Jeffrey Wright and Elizabeth Banks (could have used more of all three), along with Donald Sutherland being awesomely evil in a smiley way, and Stanley Tucci showing up and doing his Tucci thing. This is a well cast movie and they all do a great job.
It’s just that the movie itself really doesn’t go anywhere. They cut up one book into two movies, which means two stories, and it can definitely be felt. At two hours and a few minutes long, this thing felt like it was spinning it’s wheels more than once. Did we really need multiple scenes of Katniss chilling by the side of a creek or river? How much time do we really need to spend in the cafeteria watching people eat? According to this movie, all people do in District 13 is sit around in the cafeteria eating rice and watching television. Katniss really doesn’t change from the start of this movie to the end of it. She agrees early on to “be the mockingjay” of the revolution, and then from that point forward for the rest of the movie she is this thing and that doesn’t change. And she doesn’t even get to do anything for the final thirty minutes or so of the movie, as she takes cover and hides along with everyone else when their district gets bombed, and then she watches from a command center while another rescue team goes out on a mission. Known for shooting a bow and arrow, Katniss shoots exactly ONE arrow in this entire movie. The rest of the time she is either crying or being cold and distant.
My favorite scene in the movie had to have been when they filmed their first propaganda video with Katniss and they put her in this digital studio in which she’s surrounded by cameras and the background and other people were getting digitally superimposed later, and they give her a line of dialogue which is terrible, and Katniss is terrible at delivering it. It is always amusing to watch actors who are obviously very good at what they do pretend to be people who are bad at acting. Jennifer Lawrence really pulls this little part off well, and I think it also says a little something about the artificiality in movies these days and how movies are made, what with the blank studios and heavy emphasis on computers.
Otherwise this movie was kind of dull and not that interesting. They spent two hours talking about the revolution and how it’s going to happen, and then we get two scenes of revolting, but no sense of how these little moments effect everyone else, and then the movie ends. All the actual revolution shit doesn’t start until the next movie, fer crying out loud. I’m pretty sure they even said at the end of the SECOND movie that the revolution was starting. But then there ended up being a whole other movie in between then and when it actually will start like for real.
Anyway, enough with splitting up these books into multiple movies. We’re not talking about 1,000 page tomes here. These are basic stories, simply told, and as such, should be simply adapted.