At The Omniplex: ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1’

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Jennifer-Lawrence-in-The-Hunger-Games-Mockingjay-Part-1-600x380‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1’

By John Lyons

BACK in 2012, I was reluctantly dragged to see the first Hunger Games film, based on the popular series of books by Suzanne Collins (at the time, I had REALLY wanted to see the new animated pirates film by Aardman).

But actually, I was surprisingly engaged by the first ‘Hunger Games’ film, and I ended up enjoying it way more than I ever would have expected to.

This week, the third entry in the franchise, ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1’, was released. And in preparation for the film, I decided that I’d watch the second Hunger Games film, ‘Catching Fire’, immediately beforehand so that I’d be completely up-to-date when I went to see the third film.

‘The Hunger Games’ films are ridiculously popular. People turned out in droves to see the newest film. In fact, I even had to book a ticket to a late showing of the film because it was sold out when I tried to buy a ticket to one of the earlier showings.

Unfortunately, as I left the screening for ‘Mockingjay – Part 1’ last night, two thoughts crossed my mind…

1. “I wish I’d gone to see ‘Gone Girl’ again instead

2. …or maybe ‘Interstellar’ again.”

This is because the newest instalment of ‘The Hunger Games’ series not only tested my patience, but it also tested my ability to stay awake.

But let’s back up for a moment, I should probably explain what the film is about.

Jennifer Lawrence stars once again as Katniss Everdeen, a young warrior living in the dystopian nation of Panem. Residents of Panem between the ages of twelve and eighteen are picked at random to fight to the death in a major televised event. A premise that draws too many comparisons to the classic Japanese film ‘Battle Royale’.

‘Mockingjay – Part 1’ picks up immediately where ‘Catching Fire’ left off. Katniss has made a mockery of The Hunger Games and barely escaped with her life. Now her and her colleagues are staging a guerrilla uprising against the capital state.

Although explaining the premise of a film is an essential part of the reviewing process, it almost seems like a waste of time with this film, because it’s impossible to understand ‘Mockingjay – Part 1’ without having seen the first two films.

And even though I had watched the second film immediately before seeing this one, I still had a hard time following what was going on at certain points during the film.

As the crowd was dispersing while the end credits rolled, it was obvious that the general consensus was: “Eh, it was only alright.” Which is a shame, because clearly an enormous amount of work went into this film. The craft was simply beautiful. The acting, cinematography and makeup was absolutely superb. No question.

So why did the film ultimately bore me? Simple. It’s all filler.

Because ‘Mockingjay’ is broken up into two parts, everything in this film is simply building toward an inevitable cliffhanger that will be concluded when ‘Part 2’ is released next year. So ‘Part 1’, on it’s own, fails as a movie.

What little story the film has is so stretched and drawn out that it’s almost mind-boggling. Nothing happens. It really is just all filler. It builds and builds and builds up to a grand total of nothing. I’m still scratching my head trying to figure out how the runtime was over two hours.

In essence, ‘Mockingjay Part 1’ is a two-hour trailer for ‘Mockingjay Part 2’.

I’m a little annoyed because I feel like I had the wool pulled over my eyes and while Lionsgate took a chunk of money from my wallet and replaced it with a note saying: “See you next year! – Sincerely, Lionsgate.”

Perhaps the only fair way to review this film would be to cut this review in half and post the second half one year from now. But two wrongs don’t make a right.


Follow John Lyons on Twitter: @Fireinthelyons

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