This weekend the latest installment of The Hunger Games series, Mockingjay Part 1, set the box office aflame with the biggest opening this holiday season estimated at $123 million according to studio reports.
The movie welcomes the return of several original cast members: Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark and Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthrone. It also has a surprising return of Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket and introduces Julianna Moore as President Coin.
Mockingjay Part 1, directed by Francis Lawrence and based off of Suzanne Collins’ adaptation of her original novel.
When we left Katniss (Lawrence) at the end of Catching Fire, she was being airlifted from the clock arena after shooting an arrow that electrocuted her and sparked a rebellion against the Capitol lead by President Snow played by Donald Sutherland.
The movie opens with Katniss recovering from post-traumatic stress syndrome-like symptoms deep in the caverns of District 13 repeating to herself things that she knows to be true.
For the first time viewers see that District 13, thought to be gone for over 75 years, is alive and gathering enough weapons to stage a coup. They just need a face to rally the troops and Katniss reluctantly agrees.
The movie follows her struggles as she grips with the reality of her fallen district, the possible loss of Peeta and her new role as the Mockingjay. President Coin’s uncertainties of relying on a young girl and offers a glimpse into President Snow’s wartime playbook.
Mockingjay Part 1 is just as cold as District 13’s military bunkers. There is no mistaking this for a war movie, heavy on effects and short on emotion. The actors perform admirably, however the fire that was seen in the previous two installments is missing for this one.
The movie is meant to be a set up for the overthrowing of the Capitol, but this could have been done all in one. The long wait for the last movie may turn some viewers off.
It’s hard to get behind our Mockingjay as the vulnerability and sparks of spunk Lawrence showed in the first films are few and far between. The re-introduction of Effie Trinket falls flat as she stands in for other characters in the book that would have given more dimension to the film.
We also miss out on the bonding between Katniss and Solider Boggs, portrayed by Mahershala Ali. Woody Harrelson and the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman returning as Haymitch and Heavensbee, respectively, breathe life into otherwise dead scenes.
There is a yearlong wait for the last movie of the series. Here’s to hoping that it makes up for what this one lacked.