Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Review: The Hunger Games - Mockingjay Part 1

World of Blackout Film Review

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 Poster

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
Cert: 12A / 123 mins / Dir. Francis Lawrence
WoB Rating: 4/7

It gives me no great pleasure to tell you how dispassionate I feel about Mockingjay Pt 1. In fact, I felt a lot worse about my state of mind until I re-read my reviews of the previous two installments and remembered how little enthusiasm I was able to raise for those, too. It's not that I actively dislike The Hunger Games, far from it in fact, but I just can't seem to connect with what it's got to offer. I don't want to fall back on blaming demographic differentials (ie, me not being a teenage girl), because I honestly don't think that's the case; I'm just not sold on this universe.

The first two Hunger Games films wielded a heavy-handed pastiche of reality television and consumer culture. That's all but disappeared in the first Mockingjay film, but if feels at times like there isn't enough to rush in and fill the resulting vacuum. This is structurally a very different movie and carries the general tone forward well, but it feels slightly too detached for me. Almost, dare I say, like a general rant against a political situation by someone who hasn't spent enough time working out what they specifically dislike. Too broad to make any succinct points, really.

On a more cinematic front (because that's what I'm here for iirc), I spent too much time thinking 'what, like in the Star Wars?' or 'what, like in The Matrix?' to get into the movie properly. Even I would expect me to draw these comparisons of course, but when the story centres around a charming, charismatic white-haired dictator ordering his white-armoured troops to quell a rebellion (like in the Star Wars*1), and that ragtag uprising evading detection of the state by living in an underground bunker, led by an equally charismatic leader who gives rousing speeches on a first floor balcony in a dirty looking basement to a bedraggled audience (like in the Matrix)… well sorry, I've already got those scenes allotted elsewhere. To be clear, I'm not shouting 'rip-off'; they're not concepts original to those other films by any means. I just think they could have been handled more… uniquely, that's all.

Jennifer Lawrence proves her acting credentials once again, as do pretty much all of the cast (Sutherland's a but moustache-twirly, but that's the role), and the production values are nothing short of mightily impressive. The score, the visual effects, the dialogue, all robust in a way which many A-list movies can only aspire to. I should also point out that Katniss's visit to the refugee hospital was an outstanding scene, as were the film's last two appearances from Peeta. If the film had maintained that level of heart and adrenaline throughout I'd have had more to latch onto. But ultimately, I just don't care enough about the characters for some reason. The feeling of Dystopia-Lite™ hasn't disappeared for me. *shrugs*

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is well directed, well produced and well acted, and I'm genuinely interested to see the final film in the series; I just wish I could like it more.

Is the trailer representative of the film?
Pulls all the faces, sells none of the feelings. So like the film, yes.

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
Most of the time, I'm afraid not. Although there are a couple of fantastic moments in there…

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
I imagine it probably does.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
It looks great on a big screen, so cinema if you're going to see it.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Will I watch it again?

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
There isn't. Outrageous.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

And my question for YOU is…
Is it just me who was disappointed that President Snow doesn't use the word 'ergo' more? Or 'concurrently'?

*1 And while I'm on the subject, it's just a shame that that particular era of the Star Wars Expanded Universe has recently undergone a soft reboot, as Julianne Moore would make a fantastic Ysanne Isard.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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