‘Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1’ Review: Sad Katniss Misses Peeta For 123 Minutes


“Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1” felt like half of a great movie.

There was a lot of build and not a lot of satisfaction by the end of this installment – only shock, discomfort, and the feeling of something missing.

Read on for my review.

“Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1” starts out with Jennifer Lawrence’s character Katniss Everdeen struggling with the fact that she’s alive and well in District 13 while Peeta Mellark (played by Josh Hutcherson) is possibly dead – or worse – held captive by the Capital.

Lawrence’s performance is captivating, and I felt her utter loss and survivor’s guilt, her mind going in circles: “why him, not me?” But about 30 minutes into the third installment of the “Hunger Games” franchise, I was sick of hearing the words “Peeta” and “Mockingjay.” We get it – Katniss misses Peeta, Katniss has to be the Mockingjay.

But the film didn’t have to bludgeon these words into my brain.

I wanted Katniss to get Peeta back safe and sound too, but I was soon so tired of hearing his name repeated five times in every scene that I couldn’t help roll my eyes everytime Katniss would mention him.

That brings me to perhaps my biggest issue with “Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1.” It was a heavy film, filled with the waves of intense emotion related to PTSD and the traumatic terrors of war.

But the tears, the trembling lips, the hopelessness in Katniss’ expression throughout most of the movie felt too deep for a PG-13 movie – so deep, that it bordered melodrama.

Lawrence’s portrayal of Katniss was spot-on; the books focus heavily on Katniss’ depression while Peeta is held captive.

But exploring despair in bite-sized chunks for teens to swallow is a difficult line to straddle.  At one point in the film, when Katniss is getting strangled by a loved one, her bug-eyes make the scene both terrifying and ridiculous.

I wanted to cover my face in horror but also wanted to turn to my friend and point and laugh at Lawrence’s radish-hued head on the screen.

The third “Hunger Games” was darker, uglier, but slower than the previous installments.

The action scenes were on point, as were the special effects, and the three-fingered symbol of the resistance echoing in waves throughout the large crowds of rebels gave me goosebumps.

The themes of this “Hunger Games” film are eerily current and struck a chord – some images could have been taken straight from the evening news reporting on war-torn regions in the world – but I needed more muscle-flexing and a better portrayal of the terrific story – instead I got lots of unhappy faces in every scene.

Let’s just hope “Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2” feels like a full movie, not just half of one, and dwells less on the sad, listless Katniss and more on the brave, young heroine that I admire.

 

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