Sunday, November 30, 2014

Why Mockingjay Part 1 Works

As much as I love the Harry Potter series, there was always something awkward about splitting the final book into two separate movies (something that's apparently becoming quite a popular move for studios these days). The first half of that seventh book is easily the most boring and frustrating segment of the entire franchise... so giving it its own movie when parts of books four, five, and six were so awkwardly breezed over seemed almost criminal at the time. Still Harry Potter was good enough. So when Lionsgate came out and said they were going to do a similar thing with the final Hunger Games book, I groaned. It felt like just another money grab.
But Mockingjay is very different from The Deathly Hallows. And walking out of this movie, I felt like they actually did find enough material and import... Mockingjay Part 1 made sense. Despite the awkward cliffhanger ending (which if you'll recall also existed in Catching Fire), there was a legitimate through line. The characters seemed to develop in the way you'd hope for an individual feature. Plot was given its due to the point that the movie never felt like it was just treading water. In short, the split of Mockingjay into two films seems to be working.
Combine that thought with the chance to see Philip Seymour Hoffman at least one more time on screen and I gotta admit I'm a little excited for the final piece of this series.
Now I'm honestly not as big a fan of Jennifer Lawrence as the rest of the world seems to be. I generally feel like she gets more credit than she deserves because her personality outside of the movies feels like the opposite of the kind of celebrity attitude we've come to expect. But she did have some solid moments here. She did just enough to keep me on board and at the end of the day, that's all you can ask for. Donald Sutherland seems to be having a blast throughout this franchise, and I really like to see that. When good actors are having fun, you know good things are gonna happen. So between Woody Harrelson, Julianne Moore, Elizabeth Banks, and Stanley Tucci it became apparent that the studio understood this methodology and truly spared no expense in getting such high caliber actors for their big time book franchise.
Mockingjay Part 1 works. It's as simple as that. And I won't be one to argue with Lionsgate or anyone else about their choices as far as this franchise is concerned. The first Hunger Games was so-so, but since then it's all been up hill.

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