Natalie Dormer Hunger Games Mockingjay

New Characters Are Very Important

With Peeta out of commission and Katniss attempting to inspire a nation, many of the main characters from the previous two films take a back seat. Others come to the foreground. Gale (Liam Hemsworth) finally has stuff to do; President Coin (Julianne Moore) is a new, powerful addition; and Cressida (Natalie Dormer) is really exciting. The fact that after two movies, we can still meet and enjoy new characters gives the film a life and separation that’s welcome in a sequel.

In particular, Cressida sums up what’s so different about The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. She’s not a warrior or killer. She’s a film director, escaped from the Capitol and hired by the rebellion to craft a heroic image for Katinss. Along with her film crew, Cressida is in all of the most powerful scenes in the film and, in fact, is tangentially responsible for their creation. She’s the movie in a nutshell — brutal and seemingly predictable on the outside, but much deeper and more interesting than a superficial reading allows.

Hunger Games MockingJay Josh Hutcherson

The Film Feels Like Only Part of a Whole

By their very nature, each of The Hunger Games movies end on a bit of a cliffhanger. There’s always more story to tell. However, with the first two films, those stories at least had a conclusion before tagging on a tease. There’s a lot of good stuff in Mockingjay Part 1, but far more than the other films, it feels like an incomplete story.

The conclusion works as a set piece, combining several moving pieces into a great climactic moment, but it’s only partially satisfying. After two hours of set up, one major story point is settled. You quickly realize you’re watching the first half of a four-hour movie. Then again, “Part 1” is in the title. This was an issue that was likely to plague the movie no matter what. Nevertheless, you can’t help but think a little less of the movie when it sets up such good stuff that won’t pay off for another year.

Hunger Games Mockingjay - Katniss 2

The Verdict

Who would have thought The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 would have more in common with the Fredrick Zoller story in Inglorious Basterds than the first two Hunger Games? It’s a very welcome surprise and really gives the film a lot of cool directions to go in. The rough beginning and slightly disappointing ending do hurt the film a bit but never the less, the middle builds crazy momentum and earns huge points for aspiring to be something more. In the end, the fact millions of kids are going to watch a movie about the role of media is so crazy you have to give it credit.

/Film Rating: 7.5 out of 10

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About the Author

Germain graduated NYU's Tisch School of the Arts Cinema Studies program in 2002 and won back to back First Place awards for film criticism from the New York State Associated Press in 2006 and 2007.