Uneventful Installment Sets Up for Franchise Finale
Several movie studios have taken to wringing extra value out of their adaptations of finales from young adult book series, by splitting them into two parts. This can be seen in, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” and “Twilight: Breaking Dawn,” and others. This looks like a money-making ploy, a rather transparent attempt to milk the last dollar from the franchise before it ends – for now at least.
The Hunger Games is using that now-tried and true tactic to extend the flow of cash, dividing “Mockingjay,” in half, the last opus in Suzanne Collins’ best-selling, sci-fi trilogy. Unfortunately, this split has not been done well enough, and the installment is rather uneventful, effectively treading water so it can function as the setup for the expected dramatic conclusion. Nevertheless, nothing that critics say will have any effect on the box-office returns of this review-proof episode.
Directed by Francis Lawrence (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire), the movie again stars Jennifer Lawrence (as protagonist Katniss Everdeen) augmented by a support cast featuring Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, Liam Hemsworth as Gale, Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, Jeffrey Wright as Beetee, and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee.
At the opening, the country of Panem is in chaos and on the brink of revolution. Hunger Games victor Katniss reluctantly allows herself to be recruited by the leader of the rebellion, Alma Coin (Julianne Moore), to serve as the face of the struggle in propaganda videos designed to foment further insurrection.
However, besides Katniss’ frequently fretting about the mental state of her pal Peeta, in the clutches of Panem’s ruthless President, Coriolanus Snow, played by Donald Sutherland, not much happens over the course of this anticlimactic adventure. The worst part about splitting a climax into two parts, is that they make us wait for a whole year for the decisive denouement.
It turns out to be a lame excuse to fleece the legions of loyal Hunger Games fans in the target teen/tween demo. They should have done a better job, but clearly they were focused on the climax.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
Fair (1 star)
Rated PG-13 for intense violence, disturbing images and mature themes
Running time: 123 minutes
Distributor: Lionsgate Films
Watch The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 trailer: