As the penultimate chapter in The Hunger Games saga, Mockingjay – Part 1 sets us up perfectly for the dramatic, action-packed finale of the franchise. However, on its own it lacks sustenance when compared to the previous films in the series.
This is probably the result of the decision to split the last book into two films, following the trend of other recent teen action blockbusters such as Harry Potter and Twilight.
Mockingjay – Part 1 sees a traumatised Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) try to piece herself back together after the climatic turn of events at the end of Catching Fire.
She wakes up in the remnants of District 13 where the residents have been biding their time, waiting for the opportunity that Katniss has brought, to ignite a rebellion against the ruling of the Capitol and the evil President Snow (Donald Sutherland).
Reluctantly she agrees to be the face of the districts’ uprising on the condition that Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), who is being held captive in the Capitol, is rescued at the first opportunity.
Without the actual games, which are at the heart of the first two films, Mockingjay – Part 1 feels slightly empty on the action front. Although there are one or two battle scenes, this film focuses a lot more heavily on the characters’ stories and relationships.
Its message is a serious one, with its central ideas of social and political unrest. Nevertheless, there are also elements of humour which give the audience a breather from all of the doom and gloom in the world of Panem.
The performances from the entire cast are great. One third of Katniss’ love triangle, Gale, receives a big increase in screen time which gives Liam Hemsworth an opportunity to demonstrate his worth.
Josh Hutcherson is absent for the majority of the film however more than makes up for it in his powerful performance in the traumatic final moments of the film.
Although the division of Mockingjay into two parts could be found annoying, the film does not deviate far from the original story line and so lovers of the books should not be too disappointed.