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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

In theaters November 21, 2014

6:40 PM: I arrive at the theater screening the first half of Collins’ final novel in The Hunger Games series. The fervor of mega-fans and screening junkies waiting in line is exhilarating; you get the feeling that you’re about to witness something absorbingly special. Studio reps are especially peppy, no doubt fans themselves, as they gladly snap photos of attendees posing with promotional-standees.

6:55 PM: I find my seats. I have a nutritious snack and bottle of water in-hand, sustenance during what is expected to be a famishing movie-going experience.

7:15 PM: Director Francis Lawrence (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) recaps Katniss’ rescue from the Quarter Quell; recycled footage is an effective tool, plus that part where she shoots an electrified arrow at the dome looks cool as hell. Jennifer Lawrence is already showing her versatility as an actress, going from survivalist heroin to subdued victim.

7:30 PM: We learn Katniss is taking refuge in a claustrophobic bunker somewhere below District 13. She is coerced into joining President Coin’s (Julianne Moore) campaign against the exuberant Capitol by the wonderfully persuasive Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman). Mockingjay is decidedly war-propagandist narrative, I can dig that, but I feel like something substantial in terms of action should have happened by now.

7:40 PM: Oh wait. There it is. That trailer scene where Katniss brings down a Capitol fighter jet with just her bow and arrow kicks major ass, despite bringing it down on a hospital full of injured men, women and children. This is war.

8 PM: Snack time. Yawn.

8:20 PM: Gale (Liam Hemsworth) has decided Katniss loves Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), who stars in his own propaganda films for the Capitol. Katniss knows Peeta is in danger, feigning his support for a cease-fire, but Gale isn’t so sure. Lawrence follows-up with an eerily fantastic lament of “The Hanging Tree”, ambiance for the mass suicides taking place on-screen. It’s a poetic moment. The rebels, inspired by Katniss’ selfless heroism in the now-defunct games, are now risking their own lives to overturn an oppressive regime.

8:35 PM: I’ve decided by this point that the Mockingjay is overstaying her welcome. Not Lawrence’s fault. She rescues a cat while President Snow (Donald Sutherland) pounds bunker busters and delivers floral arrangements to District 13. This film is starting to feel “stretched.”

9 PM: As credits begin to roll, I start gathering my thoughts. I’m impressed with the visual effects and satisfied with Jennifer Lawrence’s performance. She has a really nice cast 🙂 backing her up. But the overall experience feels incomplete. I’m bitter about that. Mockingjay is Empire Strikes Back minus everything awesome. It’s a connecting film with no real purpose if only to show us that Panem is doomed in anyone’s hands.

I’m not against seeing The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. But I am for when you should see it, which in this case, is next year. It’s a film that doesn’t stand-alone, willing to leave uneducated audiences behind. But to it’s credit, it is called Part 1. See it next year when the filmmakers release Part 2, clearing the rubble and making way for closure.

Times are estimated and may not accurately reflect film’s timeline. I promise to do better next time!

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Movie Reelist Contributor: Chris Giroux
Chris Giroux is founder and editor-in-charge at Movie Reelist, an entertainment news and review blog serving the most fanatic moviegoers. Chris started his publication in Detroit in 2010 and has since reviewed hundreds of films and interviewed numerous talent across the country. He is an avid film festival attendee and red carpet photographer, having shot the likes of Steven Spielberg, Bill Murray, Mark Hamill, and more. Chris grew up in New Mexico, where he studied mass media writing while working in post-production and multimedia authoring. It is also where he discovered Big Trouble in Little China and Escape from New York, resulting in an unhealthy Kurt Russell obsession.


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