erik lundegaard

Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1 (2014)

WARNING: SPOILERS

“I know what you are,” the evil Pres. Snow (Donald Sutherland) tells our heroine, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), near the end of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1.” “I know you can’t see past your immediate concerns.”

Once again: He’s the awful villain here, she’s the great heroine. But for most of the movie, even for most of this franchise, he’s exactly right. Since the first “Hunger Games,” Katniss has been confronted with a tyrannical government that impoverishes the districts to reward the Capitol, and which manipulates and destroys lives, and through her reality-TV courage she’s inspired people to risk everything to fight back.

And how does she respond?

  • She has nightmares.
  • She worries over Peeta.
  • She needs nudging to hate the Capitol again.
  • She worries over Peeta.
  • Even after seeing the destruction of her district, with its mass graveyards, she needs to be tossed into battle to work up a proper fervor against the Capitol.
  • Quote: “Nobody hates the Capitol more than me. But if we win this war, what happens to Peeta?”

Pres. Snow was right. Hey, maybe we should be rooting for him.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1“Part 1” is a truly awful movie. Then again, it’s not really a movie. It’s Part 1. To paraphrase Churchill: Never has so much talent created so little for so many.

Just look at the talent here: Not only J-Law and D-Suth but Jeffrey Wright and Philip Seymour Hoffman and Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson and Stanley Tucci and Elizabeth Banks. And they’re all good. They all do what they’re supposed to do. Screenwriter Danny Strong also wrote HBO’s “Recount” and “Game Change,” as well as “The Butler” (well, “The Butler”), while screenwriter Peter Craig wrote “The Town.” And they’re all in the service of this adolescent crap whose final chapter Lionsgate has stretched out over two movies to rake in even more money. Because three-quarters of a billion dollars is never enough.

It’s a sad civil war when its two symbols are Katniss on one side and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) on the other. Both are reluctant symbols, too. He has to be tortured to accept his role while she has to be nurtured. By everyone. Maybe the Churchillian quote should be: Never has so much been owed to so many by someone.

Who isn’t on her side? Plutarch (PSH, how I miss him) sticks up for Katniss to President Alma Coin (Julianne) and engineers a return visit to District 13. He rallies Effie (E Banks) to buck her up, while Gale (Thor’s brother) is a constant, stolid and dull presence. Beetee (J. Wright), the rebels’ Q, arms her, while Haymitch (Woody) returns to remind everyone what’s special about her.

And does Katniss feel like she owes any of these people anything? Instead, it’s all about Peeta, along with her useless mom and sis. She can’t see past these immediate concerns.

In the end, for all this handwringing, Peeta, brainwashed, tries to kill her. “It’s the things we love most,” Pres. Snow says with that delicious Donald Sutherland archness, “that destroy us.” He’s right about that, too. Seriously, I’m rethinking my allegiances here. At least Pres. Snow knows what he wants. It doesn’t take a dozen people to get him to the obvious place. 

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Posted at 07:00 AM on Mon. Dec 01, 2014 in category Movie Reviews - 2014  

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