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Looneymanthegreat's Movie Reviews (125)

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 
Go See It
3/4 stars

I am officially a fan of the Hunger Games series. I’m not one to become entranced by popular movie trends (see my arguably illogical hatred of super-heroes and Disney’s Frozen for evidence.) Yet for better or for worse I’m buying these Hunger Games movies in a big way, and you better believe that I’ll be at the theater this time next year for the series conclusion.

So does that mean that I give this new entry into the series, awkwardly named The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, the same endorsement that I gave its predecessor in my last best of the rest? Well yes and no. The third Hunger Games movie is as frustrating as it is exhilarating, and it is in equal parts a cinematic abomination and an inspiration. It stands out as an example for other young people’s blockbusters to strive towards, but that doesn’t mean I can give it the full endorsement.

That Part 1 piece of the movies title does a lot of damage to the film as a whole. The Hunger Games three doesn’t feel like a finished movie; worse than that it feels like less than half of a whole movie. If you go see this, good luck finding a central conflict that actually matters to the over arching story of the series because, hint, there isn’t one. The movie is, at best, the first act and a half of a movie; and at worst it’s the first five minutes of a whole movie stretched out for over two hours for no adequately expressed reason (other than a blatant cash grab.) This whole Part 1/Part 2 trend that is spreading in modern blockbusters is a toxic one, as it isn’t really used to create better stories, but instead usually stretches one story out for much to long (see the new Hobbit movies or the Twilight films for evidence.) The filmmakers use a lot of clever slight of hand to try and convince the audience that they have a complete narrative, but I don’t think they’re fooling anyone. This becomes incredibly clear at the end of the film when, just as things are starting to actually happen, the movie just sort of stops; It doesn’t end, it stops. Audiences will have to buy another ticket to finish the movie that they should have gotten to see in one sitting.

But in all fairness, if “Mockingjay 1” is a plot less waste of time, it’s an incredibly good plot less waste of time. I riff on a lot of blockbusters for being over-serious, vapid and inanely pointless, but The Hunger Games movies do not fall into that category. These movies bring up a lot of serious and thought provoking questions on the nature of government, propaganda and revolutions as well; and this latest entry extends on those themes. It’s a movie that might inspire your teenage daughter to think seriously about political philosophy which inherently makes almost all of the films flaws totally forgivable. Harry Potter movies are fun and all, but they’ll never make you think about the world the same way that The Hunger Games will.

So I am all aboard The Hunger Games train, if for no other reason than we need more movies for young people that actually challenge them to think and analyze the world around them. Movies like Birdman might be thought provoking and all, but what we need more than anything are movies that are both thought provoking and commercially viable. We need more movies like this, and even as I condemn this film for its flaws, I celebrate it for its bravery and intelligence.

So please, weather you give a flying flip about “YA” culture or not, go see this movie. We need to send Hollywood the message that smart challenging films can make boatloads of money, and this may be our last chance for a very long while. The Hunger Games movies are the blockbuster series to watch for film fans and casual movie goers alike. I’d recommend it for anyone who likes the books as well as anyone with more than half a brain. Just be aware going in that you’re only paying to go see half of a movie, not the full feature; I for one hope that you go see it regardless.


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