ByJohn McGinn, writer at
John McGinn

I did not think I could love Jennifer Lawrence more than I already do. Lawrence seems to be a down to earth person leaving behind all the fakeness the Hollywood brings out in celebrities and people in general, and Lawrence is funny, a great actress as she has wonderfully shown in many films like Silver Linings Playbook, The Hunger Games films, Winter's Bone, and American Hustle where she has been nominated for three Academy Awards, and won one for best actress. Jennifer Lawrence is naturally beautiful that harkens back to classic beauties like Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, and Ava Gardner. Lawrence has already shown she can dance, and now when I think there isn't anything she can't do I discover Lawrence can sing beautifully as well.

All right I'm sure people don't want to read more about my love/obsession with Jennifer Lawrence. Instead I'm sure everyone wants to know whether Mockingjay Part 1 is a good film, and is Mockingjay Part 1 as high in quality as the previous two Hunger Games films. The simple answer is yes and no. Mockingjay Part 1 is a good film that delves into many of the issues of the Suzanne Collins including politics, morality in war, oppression, media in war, among others, and yes the novel should have been divided into two films because Mockingjay has far more substance than either The Hunger Games or Catching Fire. The problem I have with director Francis Lawrence's film is in the presentation of the film. Julianne Moore is a great actress in a pivotal role in Mockingjay as President Alma Coin, but the writers neutered both Moore in her performance, and the character. Coin had no substance in her speeches, and should have had more conflict with Katniss, which makes it believable in what Katniss does at the end of the Mockingjay novel. The film delivers none of that conflict, and has me a little worried how the writers will present this in next year's Mockingjay Part 2.

Outside of that I had no real problems with the script of the film. I know some have complained about the pacing of the film and lack of action, but I see no problem with what was or wasn't included in the film. As I said earlier the novel Mockingjay has a lot going on with the war, politics, Katniss's breakdown and continued PTSD, and just a lot more substance than the previous novels, so the writers smartly delved into those issues with some intense scenes including a moving scene where Gale describes the events leading up to the destruction of District 12, Katniss's visit to the District 12 hospital, and the talks between Finnick and Katniss. That along with a few intense action sequences including the action sequences in District 7 and the brilliant on at a damn outside of the Capital. Yeah I could have enjoyed one more action sequence, but the lack of another action sequence didn't hurt Mockingjay.

The performances of the actors were mixed. Woody Harrelson has been really great as Haymitch Abernathy, and Harrelson fits the alcoholic former Hunger Games winner perfectly, and he continues to do so in Mockingjay in the scenes he was in, but the film needed more of the character. While I respect the late actor Philip Seymour Hoffman he just wasn't the write fit for Plutarch Heavensbee. His performance's in Catching Fire, and Mockingjay Part 1 have been lackluster, which could be due to his acting or the writing, or a combination of the both, but Hoffman just wasn't right for the role of Heavensbee. After two films Liam Hemsworth finally had something to do, and Game of Thrones star Natalie Dormer was absolutely perfect as Cressida, but all their performances pale in comparison to Jennifer Lawrence who lifts what is the worst quality wise Hunger Games film from being average to decent film to being a an solidly good film.

There are probably only a handful of actresses who can single handily lift a film by themselves, and Lawrence is one of those actresses. Jennifer Lawrence once again delivers a powerful performance showing off her award winning acting capabilities in a range of emotions and scenes including the heartbreaking scene when Katniss first arrives at the destroyed District 12, her climatic scenes with Peeta, and her performance of "The Hanging Tree". Lawrence was terrified of singing, and believes she is a bad singing, but her sublime moving performance of "The Hanging Tree" that truly brought depth of emotion from me while watching the film proves otherwise as it was perhaps the best scene of the film. Hell I think James Newton Howard and Lawrence should be nominated for an Oscar for the score and her singing of the song.

Splitting a novel into multiple films is a difficult thing to do, and not everyone will be happy with the results as we have seen with the last two Harry Potter films, Peter Jackson's The Hobbit films, and now with Mockingjay Part 1. Mockingjay Part 1 was always going to be the set up film to the second half of the novel where we go to the capital, Katniss's big decision, and the hopefully more expanded epilogue, so many would and will look at Part 1 as just filler or a studio's desire to milk a franchise for all it's worth. Yes Mockingjay has its problems with some of the performances given, and the pacing, but Mockingjay has a lot of substance in the plot, the performances by many of the actors, and especially by Jennifer Lawrence, and some riveting action that makes Mockingjay Part 1 a flawed film, but a solid set up to the final film of The Hunger Games, that shouldn't be missed.


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