The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
Fair (1 star)
Rated PG-13 for intense violence, disturbing images and mature themes
Running time: 123 minutes
Distributor: Lionsgate Films
In recent years, movie studios have started splitting into two adaptations of finales from young adult book series, most notably, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” and “Twilight: Breaking Dawn.” The money-making ploy is arguably little more than a transparent attempt to milk the last dollar out of a soon-to-expire franchise.
The Hunger Games is the latest such production to employ the cash-generating tactic, as it divides in half “Mockingjay,” the last opus in Suzanne Collins’ best-selling, sci-fi trilogy. Unfortunately, this uneventful installment basically treads water while functioning as a setup for the upcoming dramatic conclusion. Nevertheless, nothing in the power of these words could possibly affect the box-office returns of this review-proof episode.
Directed by Francis Lawrence (“The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”), the movie again stars Jennifer Lawrence as protagonist Katniss Everdeen, augmented by a support cast featuring Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, Liam Hemsworth as Gale, Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, Jeffrey Wright as Beetee, and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee.
At the point of departure, we find the country of Panem plunged into chaos and on the brink of revolution. Hunger Games victor Katniss reluctantly allows herself to be recruited by the leader of the rebellion, Alma Coin (Julianne Moore), to serve as the face of the struggle in propaganda videos designed to foment further insurrection.
However, besides Katniss’ frequently fretting about the mental state of her pal Peeta’s being caught in the clutches of Panem’s ruthless President, Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland), not a lot transpires over the course of this anticlimactic adventure. Worse, we have to wait another year for the decisive denouement.