"Miss Everdeen, it's the things we love most, that destroy us."
So the ultimate teen franchise of this generation is just one step away from reaching its final chapter. Of course in typical teenage saga fashion it has to split its final chapter into two parts to rake in more money. I say that because as good as the effects and acting of this instalment are, they feel as if they are just a prelude.
Katniss Everdeen is now in District 13 having been thrust forward as the symbol of a mass rebellion against the capital. Under the leadership of President Coin she must fight to save the life of Peeta and an entire nation inspired by her acts of courage.
This film is quite a different experience from the previous two. Firstly there is the complete lack of an actual Hunger Game(s?). But even without the whole child murdering contest this one still manages to be darker and more dramatic in tone. It focusses much more on the concept of influence, propaganda and strategy. Like some Iron Curtain based uprising, which in many ways that is probably where Suzanne Collins drew a lot of inspiration from. I like those elements it feels like a rather intelligent move for a teen cantered film, it’s more complex and thought provoking.
The ambition of this third film is obvious. It manages to build a large amount of tension and make the viewer fully realise the gravity and scale of what they are doing. The intricate and comparatively small emotions of the characters aren’t neglected against this big backdrop and they are all given an excellent portrayal, particularly Jennifer Lawrence, as ever.
The political elements work well and suit the tone of the film. It takes the franchise to another level in a lot of ways. But these characters that are all thrown in can make the film feel a bit jumbled, a lot of elements struggle to really stand out. They’re all presented in a good way and manage to grab your attention but when surrounded by so many changing plot points and political motivations they appear to be a bit forgettable in terms of personal developments. That can also take away some of the tension when you do not really care about the characters who might be in danger because there are so many other players in this saga left alive, either kill some off or narrow your focus. Like I said before Lawrence makes an excellent and down-to-earth (which no one has ever described her as before) performance which makes it immensely believable and relatable. And of course, in his last role, Phillip Seymour Hoffman.
Also, with so much politics involved it leaves room for little action. It may become more complex than the others but it sacrifices nearly all of the heart pumping action we had in them. This is supposed to be a war after all but we see a noticeable lack of activity from our heroes. The pacing begins to feel a bit slow after nearly two hours of mainly propaganda theories. The excuse for this would be of course ‘the action takes place in the second part’ and that is fine, but there lies Mockingjay Part 1’s main problem.
It still just feels like a build-up. I criticised the Maze Runner for trying too hard to be an incentive to watch the sequels and it happens here as well. It almost feels like a film with no finale. Catching Fire did very well, in remembrance, to avoid this feeling. Mockingjay cannot do this in such a manner and the fact that it has Part 1 in the title just makes it more obvious.
Overall Mockingjay is a good way to increase the stakes and tension through political activism for what promises to be quite an epic finale. But some more action would not go amiss and at the end of the day this is still just a build-up.