The dreaded final book film adaptation break up is here. Franchises such as Twilight and Harry Potter have taken the split route for their final chapters to mixed results. Most fans complained that "Part 1" entries are a bit lackluster with most of the action relegated to the blowout "Part 2" finale. The Hunger Games is the next franchise to take the half-and-half approach looking to make sure their fans are left happy, while still making extra bucks with two movies instead of one in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.
Even though this installment in The Hunger Games franchise has the least amount of action, there's still plenty of intrigue with District 13 now taking in Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and the surviving members of District 12. We're treated to a game of chess played between the District rebels and President Snow (Donald Sutherland) of the Capital. The mind games being played kept me on the edge of my seat and made me forget about the lack of gunfire. Never fear action lovers. There's still plenty of cool action sequences and some apocalyptic visuals that are creepy, but cool.
The biggest factor that prevents the Mockingjay from having the 'Part 1' slump is the top-notch acting by Lawrence and company. The Oscar winner is able to take it to the next level with her performance preventing Mockingjay Part 1 from being just exposition for the big showdown with the Capital. It also helps that she's surrounded by acting stalwarts like Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman rounding out the cast. The biggest standout for me was Liam Hemsworth. Gale was really just a pretty face and the wannabe lover of the girl on fire in the beginning of the franchise. This time around Gale is front and center as a damaged, but unbroken leader still vying for Katniss' attention. Hemsworth finally gets a chance to shine and he takes advantage as one of the new heroes of the Districts.
One thing's for sure is that Mokingjay Part 1 is a completely different film from the prior two installments. This is a war film with a touch of a political espionage thriller. The first two films were tribute focused and this time around the games are no more. The revolution has begun and I embrace it. Audiences tend to get bored when you give them the same thing over and over again. I for one can't wait to see where Lawrence and company take us in the finale next year.
Overall, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 earns 3.25 out of 4 stars.
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