Mockingjay: Part One soars, setting up an epic finale for the series3

Emilia Charno, Ilana Hill, and Samantha D’Alonzo, Staff Writers

After watching the second movie in The Hunger Games trilogy, Catching Fire, viewers were left hungry for the next film to hit the theaters.  However, many Hunger Games fans agree that Mockingjay, the conclusion to the young adult book trilogy, has the weakest plot and did not do the series justice.  How did this translate to the the big screen film?
Although director Francis Lawrence tried to make the best of a limited storyline by balancing the plot with impressive actors like Jennifer Lawrence and Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Mockingjay: Part One still fell short of viewers’ expectations.
Movie adaptations of beloved books tend to face harsh criticism from loyal readers. Mockingjay is no exception.  Perhaps the reason for this criticism lies in the fact that Mockingjay was divided into two parts.  With barely enough material to fill the actual book, the movie made many question two entirely separate films.  For this reason Mockingjay: Part One became a drawn-out transition to set the scene for the supposedly action-packed follow up.
Despite attempts to thoroughly explain the rebellion and aspects of District 13, Panem’s rogue and secretive refuge, viewers still found Mockingjay: Part One, hard to follow at times. It felt as if viewers needed to have read the book as well as seen the other movies to fully understand this one.  This film was clearly intended for the series’ fans.
The movie heightened the importance of secondary characters like Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), President Coin (Julianne Moore), and Plutarch Heavensbee (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman). This is by no means a criticism of the amazing performance the aforementioned actors gave, but rather a criticism of a feeble attempt to force drama into a weak script.
However, there were also characters that were minimized, such as Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) and Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson).  These dynamic characters made great contributions to the book’s plot, but they were not equally present in Mockingjay: Part One.  These actors’ limited screen time has upset many eager viewers.
The saving graces of this film were the acting, soundtrack, and the special effects.  Even in a world filled with horrendous grey jumpsuits, Jennifer Lawrence still shined in her role as Katniss Everdeen.  Her genuine intensity added depth and character to the film that the script alone could not provide.
In addition to her fabulous acting, Lawrence provided a surprise for her viewers and dedicated fans.  With the assistance of singer-songwriter Lorde, Lawrence sang a hauntingly beautiful song, “The Hanging Tree.”  This song, written by popular band The Lumineers, was one of many great tracks on the movie’s soundtrack. It debuted in the iTunes Top 10 in more than 70 countries, including the United States.
What’s more, the futuristic, dystopian world of Panem was portrayed in impeccable detail.  The sharp contrast between the impoverished districts, the affluent capital, and the mysterious terrain that lay amid was made apparent throughout Mockingjay: Part One.  These details helped the viewers empathize with the rebels and more fully understand the country’s situation.
Overall, the multimillion dollar blockbuster film was by no means a complete failure.  Directors, actors, and special effects personnel did an impressive job of bringing the lackluster book plot to life.  While this latest Hunger Games installment may not have been all that viewers expected, the movie undoubtedly sets up Mockingjay: Part Two as an epic conclusion to the series.