by Isabelle Ick
Mockingjay Part 1, the lackluster third installment of The Hunger Games series, premiered Nov. 21. While the film boasts an all-star cast, the plodding pace and lack of exhilarating action scenes makes it appear as more of a placeholder than an entry into the grand finale of the popular franchise.
The film picks up right where Catching Fire, the previous film, left off. Katniss Everdeen, the film’s resilient heroine, finds herself in District 13 after the electrifying ending of Panem’s seventy-fifth Annual Hunger Games. In exchange for the rescue of Peeta, who was captured by the Capitol at the end of the Games, Katniss reluctantly agrees to become the Mockingjay, the emblem of mass rebellion against the corrupt Capitol.
In contrast to the adventure of the series’ first two films, Mockingjay Part 1 lacks the abundant action that previously engaged audiences. Katniss’s signature bow and arrow makes only one appearance, when Katniss visits the smoldering shambles of District 8 and shoots down a fighter plane with a single shot. Later in the film, six soldiers infiltrate a Capitol building to rescue the tributes who were taken hostage during the last Games. These two scenes evoke little adrenaline and disappoint audiences after the thrilling action sequences in the previous two films.
The film thinly spreads what appears to be around 45 minutes of substantial material across two drawn-out hours and fills the gaps with mundane, unnecessary dialogue. Instead of ending with a cliffhanger, the film screeches to an abrupt halt, with a conclusion with no true significance and fails to create anticipation for the final film of the series, which will hit theaters November 2015.
Despite its shortcomings, Mockingjay Part 1 boasts outstanding performances from its cast. Jennifer Lawrence, who stars as Katniss, delivers each scene with dramatic precision. Her gripping performance is a mix of vulnerability, innocence and determination, and it is evident that Lawrence has grown as an actress since her earlier performances.
Julianne Moore delivers as District 13’s steely-eyed, stoic President Alma Coin, the perfect foil to the tyrannical President Snow. Philip Seymour Hoffman, who passed away while Mockingjay Part 1 was in production, gives heart to the character of Plutarch Heavensbee, the Gamemaker-turned-rebel who cultivates Katniss in her role of the Mockingjay.
What the film lacks in action, it makes up for it with moving scenes that are both somber and beautiful: Katniss’s heart-wrenching return to the ashen graveyard of her home, District 12; her rendition of “The Hanging Tree” echoing across Panem; the bullet-torn rebels sacrificing their last breaths in attempt to weaken the Capitol’s regime. It is undeniable thatMockingjay Part 1 hosts a powerful message about revolution and the tyranny that stems from an imbalance of power.
Essentially, there is no justifiable reason to the split the final book into two separate films, save the financial benefits. While displaying resonant cinematic beauty and talented theatrics, Mockingjay Part 1 appears to be nothing but a filibuster in the series. Hopefully, Mockingjay Part 2 will be the explosive conclusion for which audiences have been waiting.