hungarygamesMockingjay leaves you hungry for more.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
In theaters November 21st 2014
3 out of 5

A quick poll of those who have read the Hunger Games book series would reveal that the third and final book is their least favorite. Many would call it unnecessary and wordy. It is certainly more political with a military mindset. What may surprise readers is that this third film in the movie series, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1, might be the better screen adaptation; only in the fact that it makes a ho-hum book slightly intriguing.  This of course applies mainly to the readers. Those who have only watched the movies will still find it a bit boring.

It would be smart to re-watch The Hunger Games: Catching Fire or at least the last 30 minutes. This new one picks up right where the other left off with no flashback scenes and very little recap. We find Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has been secured away in District 13; a military compound that has been hidden underground for many years. Under the leadership of President Coin (Julianne Moore) they have created an army to overthrow the Capitol and want to use Katniss as the Mockingjay, a poster child for the rebellion.

This installment plays it very safe when it comes to story line, character development, and action. Hopefully it is setting things up for an ultimate showdown in the fourth and final movie. Those who have read the books might be a little more forgiving of this. Others will walk out with more questions than anything. Yes the film looks amazing and the acting and script is solid. There are many returning characters and plenty of wit and humor thanks to Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) and Effie (Elizabeth Banks). Your heart will be a bit saddened as you watch Philip Seymour Hoffman. He is missed in this world and this role reminds us how memorable and likeable he was.

The scenery and set design is the best so far. The detail in each of the districts is appreciated and helps draw you in to the Panem world. It will not take long for the viewer to remember how much they despise President Snow and his regime. You will have the urge to fast forward to what you hope will be his final demise. That may be another reason this one seems very anticlimactic. You want Snow to pay and to see that smug look wiped from his face. You want the Mockingjay to get under his skin and make him sweat a bit.

One issue that non book readers will have with this film is the inability to truly understand Katniss. We want the anger driven, angst filled rebel to grab a bow and storm the castle walls! What we get in this film is a confused Katniss that seems to bounce back and forth between losing her nerve and then finding it, only to lose it again. Also she has these horrible “Twilight” moments when she can’t seem to decide, at least to the viewer, if she wants to be with Gale (Liam Hemsworth) or Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). It makes her look like Bella Swan with better hair. It is no wonder that Coin seconds guesses her decision to make Katniss the Mockingjay, and ours to watch the film.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images and thematic material. It is actually tamer than the first two films. Other than a few dramatic images not much happens that would scare, scar, or shock younger viewers. If you are committed to the movies and determined to see it through to the end then you need to see this one. Again it is mainly a lot of set up as we see all the chess pieces moved into place. Other than a couple of brief action moments it is primarily an emotional journey for Katniss in the backdrop of Panem destruction. I give it 3 out of 5 white roses. Like the book it is necessary but only slightly.

Matt Mungle

Review copyright 2013 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.