Of late, there have been a number of movie franchises that have decided to split their films up. Some of the reasons are simply financial as more movies equal more dollars and as a business practice, why would you not want to make more money on your investment? Other reasons are simply creative ones, as in the case of the recent Hobbit films. Peter Jackson could have made one film, but really wanted to put in as much of the book as possible without having to sacrifice anything. Coming down to it though, three Hobbit films equal a whole lot of money for the studio, so really, a win-win for everyone. Twilight did it, the Avengers franchise is going to do it and there are probably many more movies on the horizon that have potential for serialization, case in point the recently announced version of Stephen King’s The Stand which will be four films. So why should the studio not give the last and final book of the Hunger Games Trilogy a chance to be split up into two films, to do the story justice and to give the studio a few more bucks so that it can continue to bring great movies to a theater near you? There were many detractors saying that doing this is simply a money grab, and maybe it is, but the film itself turned out to be pretty good, doing what it needed to do to set up the fourth and final movie.
Part one of Mockingjay takes place soon after the previous film and finds our hero Katniss, played by Jennifer Lawrence, recuperating after the all-star game that she and her friends found themselves in. But not everything is all sunshine and roses as she soon learns that the people of District Thirteen essentially wants to start a civil war, band together with the other districts and overthrow the Capital. It is a bold plan, possibly a foolhardy one, but this is probably the best chance they will ever have to do so and thus, Katniss is convinced to help them in any way that she can, especially as she finds out that Peta is being held captive by President Snow.
The movie features some strong performances from the regular cast which includes the final appearance of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, a little bit of Stanley Tucci, and newcomers Jeffrey Wright, Natalie Dormer, Mahershala Ali and Julianne Moore. Of course, the film is all about Jennifer Lawrence’s character Katniss Everdeen and we follow her through the movie as she witness’s horror after horror. In this third film, you can see the cast has a good rapport with each other and everyone plays their parts convincingly, as if they really are their characters and this one is for all the marbles. Even though the film does manage to stay true to the source material, it is nice to see a few moments of levity throughout the film to lighten the mood, more often than not coming from Banks, though Lawrence also gets in a couple of chuckles from the audience.
Francis Lawrence does a great job of making this movie a bridge between the second film and the one that will end the series off. Knowing that there is one more film coming let him and the writers flesh out the newer characters and really showcase the events that will lead into it. There is a lot of tragedy featured within the film, but also moments of hope as our heroine discovers that there are larger things worth fighting for. Those people hoping for a payoff will be sorely disappointed for when they reach the end of the film, there will not be one. It does end satisfyingly, but when you realize that you have to wait an entire year to see the next installment, you wonder why they could not have just made one really long film, or at least released the next one a couple of months later. Being two movies works, but it is also its weakest part. If you are heading out to see this movie, and you are a fan of the books or the films or simply like science-fiction, you will most likely enjoy yourself, but if you are not, there is a good chance you will wonder why you simply did not wait until next year to watch them both at the same time.
4 out of 5