Billy's Film Reviews.

A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 – 2014

10687898_994246213925363_8552905063311553471_o.0It’s interesting to think that a film such as this has been put off for such a long time, simply because I don’t know where to start. Having seen “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1” a while back upon it’s early release, I have encountered many speed bumps in the reviewing process, predominantly due to immediate debates I engaged myself in.
Don’t get me wrong, I love discussing films in person, preferably when there is lots of room for debate, but it seems as though it has filled my mind with countless attitudes and opinions regarding what is essentially a very straightforward picture.
But alas, I remain true to my initial opinion regarding “Mockingjay Part 1”, and it’s the second part of the title that is ironically causing the most disappointment. 

Continuing from where the very impressive “Catching Fire” finished, “Mockingjay Part 1” sees Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) mix up her priorities and worry almost entirely about the whereabouts of her sweetheart Peter, while at the same time, The Capitol is reigning terror and destruction upon the impoverished districts.
Sure, Katniss, the reluctant heroin eventually grows to become more and more aware of the seriousness of it all and becomes the symbol of hope and rebellion, but it’s not without questionable moments of prioritising gone wrong. From there, the film becomes what is essentially a propaganda war between the rebelling District 13 and President Snow’s (Donald Sutherland) tyrannical Capitol – the Games do not exist anymore.

Hunger-games-MockingjayI must admit, “Mockingjay Part 1” with it’s politically-based messages and themes was very well handled, especially when delving into the creative steps within a propaganda piece. The speeches and counter-speeches within the narrative was rather enjoyable to watch, however it was within the second act that personally I began to lose a bit of interest.
This is not through a lack of solid performances, the cast are great (in particular the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman who adds a lot of the film’s humour), but it just became rather predictable and repetitive to the point where some content could have been left out.
All in all, the aim of “Mockingjay Part 1” was to be what is called a ‘set-up movie’, and it achieves this goal completely; which is exactly why I take issue with it.

It’s been said time and time again, but the decision to split the concluding chapter into two parts is not justifiable further than a money-making scheme; especially with a plot-line as shallow as this. People say that it’s “for the fans” and “there’s too much to confine into one film” when discussing “Mockingjay Part 1” and I say “Hogwash!”.
Sure, the money-hungry executives have found a way to squeeze another $10 out of each audience member, therefore doubling the profits, and staying true to the book always makes fans of the original source material happy. But “Return Of The King” didn’t split itself into two parts, nor did “Return Of The Jedi”, nor did “The Last Crusade”.

These aren’t the best examples, especially when “The Hobbit” is doing a trilogy from a singular book (I am deeply offended and infuriated by that, don’t worry I’ll vent about it in my review of the last film…) but something like “Mockingjay Part 1” shouldn’t be defended because it’s keeping up with “trends” or what have you.
If it truly were a ‘fan’s film’, it would include the major points of the book and have a runtime that seems suitable for fans to be satisfied; I would prefer a 3 1/2 hour epic that had it all than two separate instalments. Either that, or both “Part 1” and “Part 2” are released together, even a few months apart, not an entire year.
They were filmed back-to-back; what fan wants to hear that?! Waiting an entire year for something that’s ready to go? That’s not giving the fan’s what they want, it’s torturing them!

Also, people who discuss critics and criticise them for analysing the film without reading the books should be criticised themselves.
As reviewer Chris Stuckmann states: “There is a very common defence that I hear with things like this. ‘It’s in the book’. This is a film. A filmmaker adapting certain pieces of a book. Just because they’re in the book doesn’t necessarily mean it works in the movie. The book is it’s own thing, but it’s the filmmaker’s job to make it work for the big screen.” I couldn’t agree with this more.
It doesn’t and shouldn’t matter that I haven’t read the books, it’s a filmic interpretation of a narrative, therefore in a way, it could be identical or completely different. It doesn’t matter. Things can be added or removed at the filmmaker’s discretion.
I use “The Hobbit” as an example. The trilogy is so stretched out and so unlike the original source material, fans become upset as to how different the films are. I understand this, I really do. But at the end of the day, it’s a series of films that are purely based off a story, and nothing more.
Creative control is completely in the hands of Peter Jackson, and he can do whatever he wants with it. Adding characters who don’t exist, including endless tie-ins with “The Lord of The Rings”, go ahead! It’s your film, not J.R.R Tolkien’s. 

the-hunger-games-mockingjay-part-1-jennifer-lawrenceWhat “Harry Potter” did with the final chapter also doesn’t sit right with me, and I haven’t seen the concluding “Twilight” chapters. What I’m trying to say is, for a film that has been very well made and is a fairly solid experience all-round, the fact that it ends on a cliff-hanger in which we must wait 365 days to see progress and conclude is upsetting and unfair for fans.
It is a trend as of late and it is a terrible one. It was inevitably going to be case, but it doesn’t mean I, nay, WE, should be content with it. Geez, we’ve watched two hours that focuses on rebelling against the ever-controlling higher powers, why don’t we start something to rebel and boycott any franchises releasing split instalments?! 

Okay, rant over. How does “Mockingjay Part 1” compare to the other two instalments? Well, it’s no “Catching Fire”, but upon reflection, I feel as though I liked it slightly more than “The Hunger Games”.
For a franchise that is a shared and continued narrative chain, it is surprisingly difficult to compare them to one another, especially this latest instalment as it shoots quite far away from the others. It appears to be a more mature picture with even darker tones than the previous films.
It is structured pretty well overall with some genuinely tense moments scattered throughout. It focuses really well on the consequences of war which is something to appreciate. I really am looking forward to the next instalment, but the fact that I have to wait a year is not something I’m happy about. 

And oh, shaky-cam makes a return at some points. Such a shame…



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