If you haven’t yet read our UK staffers’ reviews of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, go and read them now! Great, positive, honest reviews and we promise there are no spoilers, so you don’t need to be afraid to click on those links. Go here to read Ciara’s review, and here to read Luan’s. And be sure to comment and tell us what you think!
Meanwhile, back in the world of people who actually get paid to critique movies, we’re now one day post-World Premiere and new reviews have been steadily making their way online.
As I type this, the movie’s tomatometer on Rotten Tomatoes is at 86% freshness with 21 reviews counted (18 fresh and 3 rotten), and an average rating of 7.1/10. Only 4 reviews from Top Critics have been added, three of them being fresh and one rotten. Remember that Catching Fire ended its run with 89% freshness and a 7.5/10 rating, so if this trend continues for Mockingjay, it’ll be pretty good news. Save for a few blips on our radar yesterday, it seems today the reviews have been a lot more positive, and even those who aren’t wholly convinced by it still manage to point out the things the film does well along with the not-as-good.
The main gripe with the film still seems to be the idea that splitting Mockingjay‘s story in two parts makes the first part slower and leaves the audience with a feeling of it being incomplete. However, it seems to me that while this may bother the more high-brow critics (which accounts for the three “rotten” reviews), the reviewers from outlets that are more genre-, pop-culture- or purely film-oriented are more willing to give the movie a pass on that one, focusing more on praising other aspects where the execution excelled.
Here’s a rundown of what’s come out since yesterday’s list. Reviews with spoilers are marked; please read at your own risk.
- The Daily Mail (3/5, SPOILERS!): Criticizes the story being split into two films, praises the “psychological thriller” feel, comments on the propos as evocative of real Nazi propaganda, applauds the screen time given to Moore, Sutherland, Hoffman, and of course Jennifer Lawrence’s performance. “I wait with almost-bated breath for part two, a year from now. But I wish I didn’t have to.”
- Little White Lies (5/5, SPOILERS!): Comments positively on parallelism between Katniss being a symbol to the rebels as Jennifer is to the moviegoers, as well as the nods to film-making in the propo scenes. Applauds the gravitas of the District scenes, as well as the balance between commentary and plot. Praises the performances of Banks, and also singles out Moore, Hemsworth, Hutcherson and Sutherland, and of course Jennifer Lawrence. “Francis Lawrence, his actors, production team and crew have given us a blockbuster that uses all its wit and wile to fly on the wings of what makes us human.”
- Radio Times (4/5): Mourns the less-action-driven pace and more muted set pieces as compared to the first two films, calls the movie a “bridging film” because of its lack of closure. Praises Jennifer Lawrence’s performance, Francis Lawrence’s “able, if unspectacular” directing, the casting (particularly Moore and Dormer), and the dialogue. “The Hunger Games is a franchise which continues to differentiate and distance itself from its action blockbuster and junior dystopia peers.”
- Empire (3/5, mild spoilers): Criticizes splitting Mockingjay into two films and the lack of satisfying resolution when compared to Catching Fire, but comments positively on the “atmosphere of tension.” Praises Jennifer Lawrence’s performance as the film’s “saving grace,” and points out the action scenes as being “elegantly mounted but all-too-brief.” Mentions that Gale, Finnick and Coin “see their roles diminished from the book.”
- TimeOut (4/5, SPOILERS!): Applauds the darker tone despite the lack of action. “Any darker they’d have to give out Prozac with the popcorn or offer counselling to traumatised 13-year-olds.” Praises Jennifer Lawrence’s performance, and the political commentary of the film that are intended to reach beyond its intended audience. (Bonus points from me for calling President Snow “Santa’s evil twin”!)
What do you think of these? Are you keeping tracks of the reviews as they come out, or are you holding out to watch the movie first? Any predictions as to what Mockingjay’s final numbers are going to look like after it opens in theaters? Sound off in the comments, and don’t forget to stay tuned for more Review Watch as the days go by.