Movie Review: Mockingjay – Part I

imageIt’s becoming abundantly clear that Jennifer Lawrence’s protagonist is much more interesting as a fighting archer than a reluctant war propagandist, but the protracted franchise must march on to rebellion and more box office receipts. Francis Lawrence’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I (C-) is one of those creaky transitional episodes in which much is promised for a grand finale, but not much actually happens within the actual film. Given the blank line readings by all involved, it could easily be Attack of the Drones: Julianne Moore, Donald Sutherland and Woody Harrelson are not immune to the film’s reverse-trackerjack of deadly dialogue. The film’s final act, which is ostensibly the middle stuff of a drawn-out two-part treatment of one book, enlivens a bit, with some legitimate battles and even a mildly pleasant honkeytonk number delivered by Miss Katniss to break up the talky treacle. Largely missing are the futuristic flourishes, sinister surprises or even tender touches that marked the series’ earlier installments. Josh Hutcherson gets scant screen time as the series’ inexplicable love interest, and Liam Hemsworth might as well be a hologram given how little our heroine regards his flesh and blood series of manly sacrifices for her (lil’ bro of People Magazine‘s cover-hunk just can’t get past first base). It’s telling that one of the plot points revolves around Jennifer Lawrence’s heroine being an unconvincing actress and needing to improv a bit in real-life dramatic situations to make her rebellion propaganda seem authentic. Perhaps that capable A-list acting will come in Part 4, er, Part II. Most of what happens in this subpar story could have been summed up in a quick prologue to the finale.

I've reviewed films for more than 20 years. Current movie reviews of new theatrical releases and direct-to-video or streaming films are added weekly to the Silver Screen Capture movie news site. Many capsule critiques originally appeared in expanded form in my syndicated Lights Camera Reaction column.

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Posted in 2014

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