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‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part I’ Review Roundup

'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part I' Review Roundup

Lionsgate and producer Nina Jacobson opted to split the final book in Suzanne Collins’ massively popular “Hunger Games” dystopian YA series into two films, following the lead of the Harry Potter and Twilight sagas. The first part of the final, two-film “Mockingjay” segment hits theaters November 21, and the first reviews are in. 

Helmed by Francis Lawrence, clocking in at 123 minutes and rated PG-13, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1,” starring marquee draw Jennifer Lawrence as heroic Katniss Everdeen and the final performance by Philip Seymour Hoffman as turncoat Capitol game-maker Plutarch (to whom the film is dedicated), will be a surefire global blockbuster no matter what the reviews.

They run the gamut: responses vary from calling it a modern classic to a bloated film trailer stretched to feature-length. (Ouch.)  

Scott Mendelson, Forbes: 

“After a sterling first act which establishes a new status quo and offers some wonderful character beats, the picture basically jogs in place for its final two acts before ending with little having changed for the characters or the overall story.”

Brian Viner, The Daily Mail
“But it’s Miss Lawrence’s show again. She’s 24 now, and given how much she has done since the first Hunger Games film in 2012, just passing herself off as a teenager is an achievement…I wait with almost-bated breath for part two, a year from now. But I wish I didn’t have to.”

Sophie Monks Kaufman, Little White Lies
“Just as the revolution needs Katniss, the moviegoing public needs Jennifer Lawrence. Plutarch is played by the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffmann and the film is dedicated to his memory. Hoffman’s posthumous bow is as a low-key role as weathered and inhabited as he always played them. Considering the number of dirtbags in that back-catalogue, it’s a pleasure to see him delivering as a good guy. His Plutarch is a wordly mediator between hotheaded Katniss and cool cat Coin. He is on the side of the revolution while also being able to navigate the personalities entangled within.”

Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
“Like an overgrown and bloated trailer for a film yet to come, Francis Lawrence’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 spreads perhaps 45 minutes of dramatic material across two far-too-leisurely hours.”

Helen O’Hara, Empire
“The drama and tone are powerful and effective and Lawrence makes an exceptionally charismatic heroine, but an almost total lack of action means this is less catching fire than treading water.”

Kevin Harley, Total Film
“Part 1 holds up, mostly, with Jennifer Lawrence doing some proper heavy lifting. On the page Katniss initially lacks her old spark, a point flagged on screen by District 13 President turned rebel Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) when she tells rebel-leader Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), ‘This is not the girl that you describe.'”

Justin Chang, Variety
“Like the novel, the screenplay (penned by franchise newcomers Peter Craig and Danny Strong) ably conjoins elements of political thriller, combat movie and mass-media satire, weaving a dense network of unsteady alliances, secret conspiracies, ratings-minded power plays and the always-knotty entanglements of love and war. It helps that some of Collins’ storytelling devices, particularly her critical inquiry into the temptations of overnight fame and the uses and abuses of televised propaganda, feel naturally suited to the screen …”

Alonso Duralde, The Wrap
“If you’ve read the books, you know what’s coming, and if you haven’t, there’s no point in spoiling anything. Suffice it to say that while “Mockingjay, Part 1” might not be as consistently thrilling as “Catching Fire” — the second movie always has the luxury of being all PB&J and no crust — it’s the movie equivalent of a page-turner, consistently suspenseful and filled with surprises and illuminating character moments.”

Eric Eisenberg, Cinemablend
“As the Part 1 in the title suggests, this first half of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay doesn’t really provide any big conclusions or complete any arcs, but this lacking only slightly undercuts what the film adds to the franchise as a whole. There’s a great deal of smart thematic and character work that adds to the world of The Hunger Games, and will only serve to get fans more excited for the story’s conclusion.”

James Rocchi, About.com
“Let us now praise Katniss Everdeen; when the first Hunger Games film came out, I said it was the best big-studio American science-fiction film since The Matrix. Viewed as a saga, it now leaves even that 1999 milestone in the dust.”

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