The saga’s latest instalment will leave you hungry for more – and not just for good reasons
Warning: Spoilers ahead
If you recall, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire left us with a pretty twisted cliffhanger. Our heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) was separated from her partner Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), and she was whisked away to the rebel headquarters in District 13.
Now, in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, we finally get to see the mysterious and abandoned District 13, and witness the uprising against the corrupt Capitol. Meanwhile, Peeta is shown to have been chillingly brainwashed.
But it seems that we haven’t actually budged much from the cliffhanger in Catching Fire. Mockingjay Part 1 is an endless plateau of suspense; an infinite wait for some real action. It is all hunger and no Games.
The Bummer Games
The trailer teases us with the prospect of explosive action, tense confrontations, and even a glimpse at the mystifying District 13 that was previously destroyed by the Capitol.
But Mockingjay Part 1 left me empty with unfulfilled expectations. Half the movie is set deep underground in a sterile military facility, away from the fascinating set of the devastated District 13.
The other half features Katniss running towards, around and away from things caught on fire, without engaging in any intense combat. In the entire film, she only shoots one arrow (which, in true Katniss fashion, hits the mark).
In other words, it is “All queue, no roller-coaster,” as critic Robbie Collin writes for The Telegraph.
My mind is now a devastated landscape of broken promises, through which Katniss is endlessly fighting her way.
To Kill a Mockingjay
What’s the quickest way to kill movie hype? Add a “Part 1” to its title. Like in the Harry Potter and Twilight sagas, The Hunger Games’ last instalment has been split into two movie halves.
And, true to many fears, this first part of Mockingjay is quite a drag. One could see this as a buffer, or even a super-extended trailer, for Mockingjay Part 2.
The build-up in Part 1 is intense. Every moment keeps you on edge while you’re expecting something to go wrong or go boom – but nothing really does.
In one scene, Katniss is introduced to her new gear: incendiary arrows and a swanky new bow. Just as she is ready to test her explosive ammunition, the tech guy says it’s too powerful to be detonated in the room. I think that’s symbolic of how little action Katniss gets in Part 1.
We Need a Hero
It’s a good thing that the talented cast is there to save the day. Given the movie’s disappointing lack of action, Lawrence did a great job of portraying the broken, reluctant heroine, while making climbing through debris look poignant and captivating.
And Hutcherson’s cold performance as a brainwashed Capitol spokesperson is haunting, an apt reflection of the unapologetic tyrant President Coriolanus Snow.
One can almost overlook the insignificant progress that Mockingjay Part 1 gives to the series. TIME critic Richard Collis wrote: “Hundreds of millions of people will go see it… under threat of the mortal sin of having to confess you skipped it.”
So, while I’m glad I caught Mockingjay Part 1, I left wanting even more. Part 2 had better be a big buffet feast for us starving Hunger Games fans!
By Pamela Chow
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 [PG 13]
Director: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Julianne Moore
Run Length: 123 min
Release: 20 Nov