This score indicates entertainment value.
0 stars is horrible (think “Cars 2”), while 5 stars is spectacular (think “Raiders of the Lost Ark” or “Dead Poets Society”).
Political: This score addresses political messaging.
0 stars is aggressively anti-Conservative (think “Cars 2” or anything from Michael Moore), while 5 stars is highly pro-Conservative (think “Atlas Shrugged” or “Team America”). 3 stars is apolitical.
Moral/Religious (M/R): This score addresses moral and religious messaging.
0 stars is either intensely immoral (think “Team America”) or all-out, needless assault on Christianity (think “Paul” or “The Lego Movie”). 5 stars is either great moral messaging (think “Kung Fu Panda” and “The Blind Side”) or highly pro-Christian (think the “Narnia” movies and the less intentional, “The Matrix”). 3 stars is inoffensive either way.
Quality – 3 stars, Political – 4 stars, M/R – 3 stars
Check – both for me and pretty much every teen girl in the audience.
“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, Subset 4, Category: ‘Dramaction’” is more than a movie. It’s an event, and apparently not for the faint of heart. One girl in line appeared trapped in some sort of praying time loop—“Omygod-omygod-omygod-omygod-omygod-omygod-SLAP!”—until a friend struck her, screaming, “Kira, be strong! Katniss needs you! Don’t fail Katniss! WE TALKED ABOUT THIS AT OUR MEETING!!”
Creeping warily toward my seat, I found myself surrounded by hundreds of girls, many of whom carried bows and arrows (which I’d always thought were, well, illegal weapons). This made me look like an awkward victim-to-be in some chick adaptation for “Lord of the Flies.” No, I wasn’t harmed. But when several warrior maidens eyed my jumbo popcorn and drink, I timidly surrendered them to the mob. Quietly, fearfully, I watched the movie.
Mockingjay 1 picks up after the Hunger Games have collapsed. Our hero, Katniss Everdeen (well played by Jennifer Lawrence), evolves into a military icon, to whom everyone looks for inspiration and courage. No pressure, kid. After seeing her native District 12 reduced to carnage and rubble, Katniss declares war on the evil President Snow. And since much of this movie centers around the PR war, she does this on camera while looking downright smashing.
These Hunger Games films are very good, especially for teen-centered views of government run amok. The action is slick. The acting is solid. The villain? Chilling. In fact, if Jonathan Gruber dressed in white while reciting his “Let’s control America’s idiots by lying to them about Obamacare” speeches, he’d fit right in. Seriously. Rand Paul could preach against surveillance drones outside these packed theatres, then sail to victory in 2016.
Just a suggestion, Rand. Carpe diem.
Alas, this third film out of four doubles the studio’s income by splitting the final book—and it shows. One hour of story is stretched into two, as Mockingjay 1 explores Katniss’s pain and loss, complete with loads of political drama. Tension is maintained throughout, albeit plodding along at an art film pace.
Remember the 2nd-to-last Harry Potter film? Remember enduring what felt like hours of Blair Witch-style wandering in the woods? Yikes. I half envisioned Hermione holding a flashlight to her face, saying, “I’m so scared…don’t know what to do…the script ran out hours ago…my feet hurt…”
Thankfully, this was better.
Aided by a strong cast featuring Donald Sutherland, Liam Hemsworth, Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, Lawrence holds our interest, navigating a turbulent story of ruthlessness, tragedy, and deception. Well done, Katniss. The film’s best work, however, comes from Josh Hutcherson playing the captured and manipulated Peeta. A terrific performance.
Mockingjay 1 serves its purpose as a buildup for Mockingjay 2, but that’s about it. It’s all very sharp, very gripping, very visually appealing...and very okay. Yes, it’s as okay as any okay movie I’ve ever okay’d.
But this is no movie. It’s an event. Okay?