The ‘Part One’ in the title here is the main problem with the film – splitting Suzanne Collins’ final Hunger Games novel, Mockingjay, into two parts has just spread the story far too thin to work well, reducing this one to very humdrum melodrama with little of note going on, and although I don’t know the ending of the series it’s a safe bet what the conclusion is going to be, most probably also with the heroic sacrifice of one of the main characters to resolve a number of the somewhat tedious issues now in place. All of the previous characters, like Peeta, Gale and Finnick, are utterly reduced to brief moments of perfunctory dialogue and new characters, like Natalie Dormer’s Cressida, are very rudimentary plot devices – everything is all put on the shoulders of Jennifer Lawrence in the role of Katniss Everdeen as she is, once again, heralded as the reluctant champion of an entire nation.
This time the games have finished and the resistance have to fight a media war to win over hearts and minds – Katniss is to be their lightning rod, but the evil Capitol seek to undermine her image and crush the broiling rebellion set in motion by the events of ‘Catching Fire‘. There’s a lot of DRAMA without a great deal really happening and there is a curious mix of quite dark scenes of war with soap opera drudgery, and the final ‘twist’ is not only clichéd but laughably so, in fact the same thing was attempted in ‘Flash Gordon’ (80) but they realised it was rubbish so it didn’t last long. Hopefully the finale will have all the fireworks and soul that this one is missing, although interestingly political protests around the world, from Thailand and Hong Kong to the United States, have seen people adopt the three fingered salute used in the series, as well as graffiti slogans from the franchise, which is extremely impressive – are the filmmakers up to the task of delivering on the final instalment?