Film review: “Mockingjay: Part One” falls short

Royce Hoffner

“If we burn, you burn with us!”

Advertisements displaying heroine Katniss Everdeen, (Jennifer Lawrence) saying that iconic line seem to have been played nonstop recently, leading up to the highly anticipated first half of the “Mockingjay” story — the conclusion of Suzanne Collins’ “Hunger Games” series.

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Photo courtesy of "Mockingjay: Part One" Facebook page
Photo courtesy of “Mockingjay: Part One” Facebook page

The hype surrounding “Mockingjay: Part One” has been spread far and wide across the world as both readers of the book series and followers of the movies have been looking forward to a spectacular installment in the series.

The fact that the last book has been split into a two part movie — keep in mind that “Mockingjay” is actually one page shorter than the second book, “Catching Fire,” and only 16 pages longer than “The Hunger Games” — would seem to indicate that the events are simply too complex to fit into one film.

This is not the case.

Instead, it seems to waste the viewers’ time, while happily taking their money.

Splitting final book-to-movie crossovers into two parts is a move that has become almost expected after “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows started the trend. While splitting the movie does offer some advantages as far as story progression and development, it should be something that is contained to books that truly need the extra film.

“Mockingjay” is not one of these films.

The film starts out with Katniss wondering if she can handle the loss of Peeta, (Josh Hutcherson) and District 12, her home. After finding the courage to emerge as “the mockingjay,” she heads out to film a political smear campaign that will help to provoke the other districts of Panem into an all-out revolution. The movie centers on the filming of these clips, which will later be pirated onto the Capitol’s TV stations by her fellow rebels.

Of course, the Capitol retaliates with their own clips of Peeta Mellark asking the rebels to lay down their weapons and surrender to the authority of the Capitol. The film ends with the tributes, Peeta and Johanna (Jena Malone), being rescued from the Capitol and Peeta trying to kill Katniss.

If this sounds like too short of a synopsis, I assure you, it isn’t. Virtually nothing else happens in the film that is worthy of notation.

This is not to be misconstrued as dissatisfaction for the entire series; the other films have encapsulated the books beautifully.

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However, this first part of the conclusion seems more like an attempt to make the viewers pay even more for a series they love. What happens in this film could have easily been cut down, meaning there is no real reason to divide “Mockingjay” into two parts.

It is apparent in the film world this year that people are willing to watch a three hour movie if the film warrants the time. Films like “Interstellar” fit the criteria, being well worth its three hour time peg. “Mockingjay” in its entirety certainly could have warranted one three hour-long film,  instead of creating a beginning half that is so lackluster.

The one reason to see this film? Jennifer Lawrence’s song “The Hanging Tree.” This mesmerizing scene captured the beauty of J-Law’s not-so-perfect singing voice, leaving the entire theater silent.

Nonetheless, it would seem that the only thing that is going to burn in this film, is the film itself.
Collegian A&E Writer Royce Hoffner can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @RoyceHoffner.