Studios have a new weapon in their arsenal: the ability to break a movie into two parts to tell a story that fits into one. The final Harry Potter film did this and it was groundbreaking. The Hobbit did this as proof positive that people will buy this kind of storytelling. This film feels like they are stretching the story to fill time. As its really only half of the story, I have to grade it on it's own merits as opposed to a complete story. At this point, I have to award this film a provisional yellow light. I will upgrade it if it turns out the story was worth the long walk it's taking us on.
Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) wakes up in a resistance bunker in District 13. We see the events that happen right after the explosion in the games. Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) has been seized by President Snow (DonaldSutherland) and is being held to be used as a political pawn. The resistance wants Katniss to fight for them and become a symbol. Gale (Liam Hemsworth) is also in district 13 as he helped Prim (Willow Shields) and her mother (PaulaMalcomson) escape before District 12 was destroyed. President Alma Coin (Juilanne Moore) and Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) are pushing Katniss to be the face of the rebellion.
The one thought going through my head for the entire film is this is Philip Seymour Hoffman's final role. This film, good or bad, will be his legacy. He was such a talented actor and I enjoyed almost every role he had. I savored each and every scene he was in. I remember hearing that some of the scenes in the second film are going to have to be altered or adjusted because of his death before filming was complete. I hope they don't CGI him poorly.
His loss really overshadowed this project for me. It will be interesting to see how they compensate for the lost scenes. I know that there is no way to compensate for the loss of such a talented star in our universe.
The performances were great. I felt really connected with the characters. I had one issue with the community members of District 13. Peeta goes on screen publicly and denounces the rebels and what they stand for. I can understand the initial distant for him, but as the other propaganda material is broadcast he shows signs of malnutrition and abuse. Were they so blinded by their hate that the only one who saw what was really going on was Katniss? Even President Coin called him a traitor. This makes me worry about the type of government that will be taking over if they win the war. In case you haven't already guessed I have not read the books.
There is nothing earth-shattering or remarkable about the film. It really feels more like a preamble than a film. I am going to have to re-watch this film before I go see the second one. I am sure that the theaters will be offering this as well. If not I will Netflix the first one and then see the second one in the theaters... Or I will wait until they are both on Netflix.
Would you rather go to two hour and a half movies or one move for three hours?