Film Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1

starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth,  
Donald Sutherland, Jena Malone, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci, and Juliane Moore

Watch the final trailer for The Hunger Games Mockingjay - Part 1 and read my review (with minor spoilers...) below...

official synopsis for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1:
The worldwide phenomenon of The Hunger Games continues to set the world on fire with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, which finds Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in District 13 after she literally shatters the games forever. Under the leadership of President Coin (Julianne Moore) and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and a nation moved by her courage. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is directed by Francis Lawrence from a screenplay by Danny Strong and Peter Craig and produced by Nina Jacobson’s Color Force in tandem with producer Jon Kilik. The novel on which the film is based is the third in a trilogy written by Suzanne Collins that has over 65 million copies in print in the U.S. alone.
I saw Mockingjay - Part 1 on its opening day (November 21st) with my sister and ten-year-old niece (who was way more excited to see this movie than I was, lol...we're both big THG fans. She was Katniss Everdeen this past Halloween. Her costume was Katniss' wearing a leather jacket with bow and arrow and a Mockingjay pin) and we all loved and enjoyed watching this movie.

I've seen the first two movies (The Hunger Games and Catching Fire) and read the trilogy books before seeing this movie (part 1 of the split Mockingjay movies' 2 parts). I loved both books and movies. I was looking forward to seeing this movie as I really loved and enjoyed watching Catching Fire (Film Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire). While I've followed the casting news and saw the trailers and a couple clips, I tried not to spoil myself with seeing more clips. Glad I didn't because it was really good seeing this movie without seeing a lot of the promo clips (though most of them were similar clips...which didn't really spoil the movie at all) and though I've read the last book several months ago, I was more interested in how it's being translated to the big screen. I wish it wasn't split into two parts, but after seeing this movie, I understood why and it made sense. The last book was a bit more thick than the previous two and definitely needs to be split into two parts as there were a lot to cover. Also, Mockingjay, is about the rebellion and no longer in The Hunger Games arena. There are a lot of action on this one too. With that said, part 1, already had plenty of action and suspense.

Jennifer Lawrence continued to impressed me with her portrayal of Katniss Everdeen. Her acting has always been believable and impressive to me anyway, even in her other movies (I recently saw her Silver lining's Playbook and she was great on that movie). She showed some emotions and vulnerability to Katniss (after all that Miss Everdeen had been through in the past two Hunger games in the previous two films) in this movie especial towards the climax scene that made me feel sad and at the same time hopeful for her as she waits for Peeta's rescue and reunion with him. Also, while Katniss wasn't happy about being used as the Mockingjay (by the leaders and rebels of District 13) and mostly had nightmares from her two hunger games experience (can't say I blame her), she still have her sarcastic humor intact especially when it comes to Buttercup, her sister Prim's cat that she could careless about, but reluctantly had to for her sake. There were a couple brief scenes with her and the cat that were funny just like in the book. My favorite scene or moment with Katniss though, was when she sang acapella to The Hanging Tree (which her character did sing in the book and wondered if she'll sing it in this movie too and how it'll sound like like) and was pleasantly surprised how it was good and she sang it really good (Jennifer does have a beautiful voice. I've heard her sing before in one of her previous films, The End Of The Street, and she was very good...even playing a guitar, if she was actually playing it...) and liked it. The song was actually catchy (I was singing along with her just like the others in the movie, lol...) and was stuck in my head..."Are you? are you? coming to the tree..." It even stayed with me long after this movie's credits has ended and a couple weeks later after this movie was released and I still remember this song! Not too mention, it's currently sitting pretty at #2 in US iTunes chart and topping the iTunes Charts in 36 countries! Well, the song is good and catchy! My other favorite scenes with Katniss was when she was doing the propos (propaganda ads) for the rebels against President Snow and her moments with her sister.

Donald Sutherland as President Snow remains pretty good as the baddie leader of the Capitol in Panem and more threatening to Katniss Everdeen and anyone who support her as the Mockingjay in this movie. He appeared more here. Unfortunately, Jena Malone as Johanna Mason was barely seen and in a blink-and-you'll-miss-her-cameo appearance! She was one of the best things and highlights of the previous Catching Fire movie. I was a bit disapointed that she only appeared in a quick glimpse towards the end and her name was even mentioned a few times by Katniss and President Coin (played wonderfully by Julianne Moore). She appeared a bit more on the Capitol propo ads than she was in this movie, lol. Still, it made sense for her character, as she was captured and tortured along with Peeta Mellark and held hostage by evil Snow at the Capitol. So, I began to understand why, and it was for the purpose of the story that Johanana was not seen until towards the end of the this part 1 movie...and damn it, it had to happen just when she was rescued along with Peeta...and they had to end this movie in a freakin' cliffhanger. Ugh! LOL. Just when Katniss & Peeta were reuniting and he did something crazy to her...this movie had to end there abruptly at the climax! Nooohhh! Now, can't wait to see part 2 (the last part of this movie and series) and especially that Johanna will appear on it more!

The rest of the cast, some returning (most if them in small parts here like Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket was still hilarious, Woody Harellson as Haymitch Abernathy, and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavenbee) like Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark (in minimal role and screen time here), Liam Hemsworth as Gayle Hawthorne (he appeared more here, but I didn't care much for him...instead I missed Peeta and Johanna...), and Sam Claflin as Finninck Oderh and a few new additional cast were all good here.

Overall, Mockingjay - Part 1 was very good. Great cast (returning and new), great story-telling and adaptation from the book, and great direction by Francis Lawrence (glad he directed this movie and part 2 also. Looking forward to part 2 and final installment of the THG series! Why must it be a year from now?!). Though I love The Hunger Games and Catching Fire more than this one, but I still loved and enjoyed watching this movie. It's still a must-see and I recommend you see this movie especially if you're a fan of the trilogy books or even just a fan of the last 2 movies. Makes you long to see part 2 already...I know I'm very much looking forward to it and can't wait!

My The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 film rating:   (9.5/10 A)


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