'The Hunger Games' is a series that is massively overrated, but that doesn't make these series, so far, bad in the slightest. The first two films in the series are good and is gradually getting better as it leads to the finale next winter. It is led (yet again) by the talented Jennifer Lawrence and the underrated Josh Hutcherson. 'Mockingjay Part 1' brings yet another dimension to the series. It has gone from a teen novel action film ('The Hunger Games'), to a more complete action film ('Catching Fire'), to a war time political thriller with this. It feels like all this is doing is setting up the final film, but it's far from a bad watch.
'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1' follows the story of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) after she has been rescued from the wreckage that this the 75th annual Hunger Games event. Katniss, along with Beetee (Jeffrey Wright) and Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) are taken to an underground rebel facility under the ruins of a destroyed District 13. She is reunited with her family and also meets President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore). President Coin informs Katniss that her actions during The Hunger Games have ignited strikes and riots against the Capitol. Coin asks Katniss if she will be the symbol of the rebellion, the "Mockingjay." Katniss refuses, because they left Peeta Mallark (Josh Hutcherson), behind at the arena. Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) tells Katniss that she should see what has happened to District 12 since The Hunger Games ended. Katniss witness with her own eyes, the leveled state District 12 is in. When she arrives back at District 13, she sees Peeta doing a interview, being used by the Capitol to try and stop the rebellion. Katniss changes her mind and decides to help Coin, with the stipulation that Peeta and the other tributes be rescued at the earliest opportunity. Thus begins the transformation of Katniss into the Mockingjay as this world is on the brink of all out war with it's capitol.
For a series whose first two films had a ton of action, 'Mockingjay Part 1' is a slow build to what will surely be an explosive finale. The problem with this is, that it felt like a movie that was only made to set-up another film. This was also how I felt about 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1.' Could they have made those films, and these two as well, into a single film? I'm very much convinced they could have. Streamline them both and make a complete, single film, rather than cash grab and split them into two parts. The action, when it does happen in this film pretty good, but that's not the focus of this. You have the political fight between the rebels and their leaders. You have the leaders trying to win the rest of the population back. The struggle between the two factions, and seeing the inner workings of both sides was actually pretty fascinating. Watching the rebels film propaganda to gain attention. Watching the Capitol plot to thwart the rebellion, while smoothing things over with their people. Both sides working towards control, siting their own ideals as best, was interesting indeed. The acting was probably the best in the series too. Jennifer Lawrence has really settled in as Katniss and does a good job with her. It helps that her supporting cast has the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson and Donald Sutherland, as all are superb in their roles. Elizabeth Banks is over the top, as always, in the series and Josh Hutherson is very solid in his limited exposure in this. This cast is greatly aided by the writing, which is the best so far in the series. It keeps you engaged well. It gets you entrenched the world you've been watching over the past three films. The style and look is alright (again more over the top here) and the music and score is pretty good too.
Now this does have it's share of problems. The writing is good, but there's a lot of unnecessary scenes littered throughout this film. The pace is erratic at times and the flashbacks they use are only okay. The film is fine for it's length, but it does feel long at times. Outside of the main cast, no one really stands out either, and I really do dislike Liam Hemsworth's character. 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1' is a fine film nonetheless. The acting is good and if you're into the political side of things, you're going to really like all the things that go on in this. Jennifer Lawrence keeps getting better as Katniss, and as long as she has strong writing and good acting beside her, 'Mockingjay Part 2' could be the best film in the series.