Friday 20 March 2015

Film Review - Mockingjay: Part 1

Mockingjay: Part 1
Director: Francis Lawrence
Genres: Science Fiction | Young Adult
Duration: 123 minutes
Release Date: 21st November 2014
IMDB Rating: 
Butterfly Rating: 
Trailer: See Here
With the Games destroyed, Katniss Everdeen, along with Gale, Finnick and Beetee, end up in the so thought 'destroyed' District 13.

Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her friends, Katniss becomes the 'Mockingjay', the symbol of rebellion for the districts of Panem.

Fire is catching.. and if the districts burn, Panem burns with them.

This film is an adaptation of a novel.
Please bare in mind that during this review, there may be spoilers referring to scenes in the novel.

Finding words in order to actually review Mockingjay: Part 1 is probably the most difficult part about this review, in fact, I stand corrected, finding things to actually talk about in this review is the most difficult part. The words that scream in my head and are dying to escape consist of 'what on earth happened to this franchise?', 'what did they do?', 'what did I just watch?' and 'this is why you don't turn a political, tactical, chess game like novel into two films, because nothing damn well happens!' and I certainly wish I joking. Mockingjay just felt like two hours worth of nothing, and that's two hours of my life I will not be getting back.

I almost can't understand how my favourite book of the trilogy could turn out to be my least favourite of the films because, I absolutely thoroughly enjoyed all the politics, all the twisted, backstabbing characters, all of the intrigue and the moves like chess, but this, this was just, a really slow, really uninteresting, badly acted screen version that did not appeal to me whatsoever. In fact, one of the big features of Mockingjay: Part 1 that bugged me throughout was how unnecessarily dark the actual film was. I'm fully aware that most, if not all of the novel takes place underground, but is it too much to ask for there to be some good lighting in District 13? You've got weapons, technology beyond what you could have imagined and you can't even get hold of a few brighter lightbulbs? Give me a break; if anything interesting did happen, then the chances are I didn't get to see them, because said scenes were so dark, it was almost impossible to actually see anything of anyone unless they were outside, which was extremely rare. It's such a shame because I actually really enjoyed getting to know the in's and out's of District 13 during the novel, I thought the entire set-up was brilliantly crafted and very realistic considering their circumstances, but the world suffered at the hands of such dark lighting and techniques, it was impossible to really enjoy anything when I couldn't see anything.

Pair that with, what I can only describe as some really, really, really unrealistic and irritating acting from Lawrence as Katniss, I think I probably would have surrendered myself to Capital, seriously. Whatever character development, whatever on screen confidence, whatever it was I liked about Katniss and Lawrence's portrayal of her was either completely wiped clean, or I seriously didn't know anything previously, looking sorrowful, looking like someone just stood on your teddy, having a panic crying moment, these are simple things my youngest cousin could do (7 years old) and Lawrence looked in genuine pain or as though she seriously did not want to be there. The acting just felt painful, as did the directing, and most of the cast followed in those doom and gloom footsteps. None of it felt strong, none of it felt as though it was trying to feel realistic, and when you consider the cast Mockingjay: Part 1 actually had, I seriously think most, if not close to all of them, have been wasted, including Lawrence; she's such a better actor than this film made out, and it's such a shame.

However, you've obviously noticed that I didn't give this film no rating, which means there were some positives, and there were, there were quite a handful of positives, and they were what encouraged and pushed me to continue watching. The actual action scenes that were there and were featured were strongly executed, and Sutherland's portrayal of Snow continued to be one of the most dark and most twisted executions I've watched, and I really loved seeing his actions, and his moves counteract those made my Katniss and District 13, making what movement in the plot there was, just a little better. I actually also found that I came to like the direction the films were taking when it came to Gale - you're aware that I did quite like his character in the novels, but thought he was usually pushed out of scenes so Katniss could mope and Peeta could, do whatever it was he doing, but the direction that Lawrence directed Hemsworth's character to be, it impressed me. They showed a depth, a multi-dimensional character who put aside his own feelings and emotions for the sake of those he cared about, he sacrificed a lot in order to support his family, Katniss' and Katniss herself throughout the novel, and his dedication to the cause, his passion for change, his grief and lose over District 12, it was definitely something I appreciated, and I really enjoyed seeing him come further into the limelight. Speaking of limelight, another character that had more screen time in both the film, and in the book, was Finnick, and these films have done everything in order to keep my love for him alive. Claflin is such a well rounded actor who throws himself into anything his part calls for him to do, and seeing and watching his grief on screen, his loss and pain, his love and care for Annie, and the reconciliation, oh my heart, they had such a believable chemistry, something so much more realistic and heart-warming than I think I'd ever felt towards Katniss and her love interests - the chemistry was wonderful and beautiful, as was his acting, and I'll be very sad to see him go in Part 2.

While we're on the subject of Part 2, I'm not surprised this installment is no-where near as strong as The Hunger Games or Catching Fire, there was much less action and much more relying on the characters in the novel, and when you split a novel like that into two films, you're going to end up with very little, you're going to end up bored out of your brain, and you're going to wish you'd just waited to get both parts on DVD, burned them onto whatever system your using, cut out all of the unnecessary bull and watched a much more action filled, more condensed and more than likely, more entertaining film. This franchise should never have been four films, it should never have been allowed to happen, alas, money is the root to all evil, and as is to be expected, if in Hollywood you can make more, then do.

There was a lot that disappointed me about Mockingjay: Part 1; the world and visuals suffered when they needent have, the acting suffered and felt second rate and the actual movement of the plot was second rate and slow for the most part. The ending didn't rile any emotions out of the me either, and I know it can't be that I've fallen out of enjoyment with this series, because I ensured I watched it's previous installment's beforehand and still, quite enjoyed them, but whatever Mockingjay did, they didn't do it well. I predict that Part 2 will be much, much stronger, as we're all aware, that's where the action actually lies, and I'm hoping that the acting will pick up when it's paired with actual movement. I'm disappointed, frustrated and angry at how much this installment let me down, I guess we'll know if the fire I had for this series has snuffed it, or whether it will burn just a little brighter when the story closes.


  1. I really didn't like the Mockingjay book after loving the other two.
    I thought the film was okay. A bit boring maybe.
    Hopefully Part 2 is good :)
    Great review!

    1. I'm hoping Part 2 is where all the action is, at least, that's where it was in the book. Thanks Jess! :)

  2. I completely agree with you Amanda. While I liked it a bit more than you, I can still see where you're coming from. This particular book in the series - the first half especially - is more about politics than action, whereas the first two books were virtually all action. While politics in a book is great if well-developed, for a movie it just doesn't transfer as well, you know? Anyhow, since Part 2 has a bit more action than Part 1, I'm crossing my fingers that it will be more enjoyable than this was. Thanks for sharing Amanda and, as always, fabulous review! ♥ Sorry to hear you were a bit disappointed with this!

    ~ Zoe @ Stories on Stage

    1. You can't really put it onto screens much can you? That and like you, I'm hoping Part 2 is much better!<3

  3. OMG YOU MAKE ME CRY. haha. I'm juuuust kidding. Least to say I loved this movie and had a hyperventilating attack of feels 100% of the time. So, yes, um, I'm just going to sit quietly alone in my fangirling corner. ;-)

    1. Aw no Cait, that's perfectly fine, I can SO see how and why you'd like it, I just.. couldn't :(

  4. Awww Amanda, I can definitely see how you could be disappointed with this one. I just discussed this movie with a friend who also mentioned Jennifer Lawrence's acting in this one was a disappointment, even though I didn't mind it too much. I did like seeing more of the outer districts, and seeing Gale take more of an active role too. Even though this wasn't what you expected, I'm glad you were able to find some things to take away from it. Great review Amanda!

    1. Thanks Jeann. It wasn't something I can say I liked, but I wouldn't have not watched it either! :)

  5. I was also VERY disappointed with this movie. I was expecting so much more from it, seeing how much I loved the adaptation from Catching fire. The acting annoyed me and I didn't like how whiny Katniss was on the screen. It might be because I read the book a while ago, but I can't remember her being so pathetic and weak.. I also don't understand why they cut the book into two movies, because there was clearly not enough story to make this interesting.

    1. She definitely wasn't that weak in the books, she was much stronger and fierce and someone to be reckoned with, it was something I really loved in Mockingjay! Bad acting for me personally, and it definitely didn't need cutting into two films, trilogy is it no longer, such a shame..


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