The Capitol Strikes Back in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1…
The “Previously on Hunger Games…” chatter falling from Katniss’ lips as she shudders in the dark at the start of this third film is a warning of things to come. Prepare yourself for a lot of angst (much of the script seems to read, “Katniss peers around the destruction looking distraught”) and a lot of plot-filling talk.
With the games behind her, Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss finds herself in District 13, following her rescue from the shattered battle dome. Don’t worry, it’s not long before the gang’s all here, including Gale (Liam Hemsworth), Beetee (Jeffrey Wright), Effie (Elizabeth Banks), mom (Paula Malcomson), sister Prim (Willow Shields) and the cat. Even Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) pops up with the odd video message when the film goes a bit Piers Morgan’s Life Stories, as The Empire… sorry, The Capitol uses him as its propaganda tool against Katniss’ rebel rousing Mockingjay.
And that’s all Mockingjay Part 1 has to offer. “She’s the face of this revolution,” says Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Plutarch, just before Team Katniss gets assigned its own video production crew. Their movies within a movie simply don’t have the thrills the games themselves offered, despite attempts to shoehorn action into them. It’s left to Effie to inject some humour and lift the drab tone: “We will make you the best dressed rebel in history!” – in case you’re wondering, that character’s not even in the third Hunger Games novel.
Lawrence is amazing, as always, but a dour plot, poor dialogue and a lack of action mean even she can’t stop you shrugging at the cliff hanger. Based on this evidence, from a story point of view the cash-cow decision to split the final book into two movies seems shaky at best.