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!
It’s been almost a full week since the London World Premiere, and the number of professional reviews published for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 keeps increasing, although at a slower pace than it did that first day. I fully expect the pace to pick up again after the Los Angeles Premiere, but in the meantime, the movie’s tomatometer on Rotten Tomatoes is at 86% freshness with 28 reviews counted (24 fresh and 4 rotten), and an average rating of 7.2/10. Five reviews from Top Critics have been added, three of them being fresh and two rotten.
The steadiness of the meter for the week perhaps implies that the pattern will hold (it went down to 84% at one point mid-week, but it climbed back up quickly), and the rating has gone up one decimal point since our last Review Watch, which is always positive.
Here is a summary of the latest reviews to come out this week. Reviews with spoilers are marked; please read at your own risk.
- TIME (No score, SPOILERS!): Extremely negative, states that audiences will flock to the movie only “under threat of the mortal sin of having to confess you skipped it.” Criticizes Katniss’ “dyspepsia” and the blandness of District 13, as well as the lack of romantic spark between Katniss and Gale as she’s still pining for “pasty, earnest bore” Peeta. Mentions the Hanging Tree scene makes the movie spring to life but not enough to balance the rest out. Moans about Oscar-winners Hoffman and Lawrence being “flat, disengaged,” although blames the screenplay/story more than the actors themselves.
- Flick Filosopher (No score): Praises the split of Mockingjay into two movies, saying it “might be the best thing that could have happened to this franchise.” Comments positively on getting to see things from outside Katniss’ head, and also the scenes of Katniss’ in-studio propos and how she changes when let to be herself “in the field.” States hope that this depiction of how unclear right and wrong can be might inspire the YA audience. Calls the Hunger Games movies so far “one of the smartest, most enthralling science-fiction films series ever.”
- Film4 (No score): Comments positively on the bleakness/darkness of the series vs other cult YA series such as Harry Potter and Twilight, and praises the portrayal of the way modern wars are fought “through media as they are on the battlefield.” Mentions the funny moments of Plutarch and his team attempting to train Katniss to act and failing, as well as the parallels of Katniss having to go “in the field” to be truly inspiring vs our thrill as an audience when watching action scenes. Admits the film “doesn’t have a particularly cinematic arc” but states that the few scenes with Peeta/Caesar/Snow really do pop. States the film is more somber than the past ones, but points out the irony in the audience feeling the absence of the “splendor” of the Capitol as proving Suzanne Collins’ satire of “panem et circenses.”
- Crave Online (8.5/10, mild spoilers): Praises the evolution of the story line of the films and calls the thematic examination of marketing “fascinating.” Comments positively on the movie’s treatment of media manipulation– a concept which in real life is “undeniably sick”– as matter of fact, in a way that makes it relevant to our current way of life. Compares positively to films like Full Metal Jacket, with the idea of anthems of war and destruction, and exalts that the story is not good vs evil but “a war between two political systems,” which they call a “beautifully challenging concept.” Compliments the pace of the action. “This is intellectually and emotionally charged big budget cinema, and it leaves you hungry for more.”
- Urban Cinefile (No score, SPOILERS!): Criticizes the split into two films, stating “there is too much padding” and claiming the dramatic impact is limited because of it, but still calls the movie a success by the end. Praises the performances of Hoffman and Sutherland (“charismatic” and “formidable” respectively), and mentions a couple of particular scenes being “chilling” and “filled with tension and anticipation.”
- Graffiti with Punctuation (No score, SPOILERS!): Criticizes the split into two films, stating “it should not have ever been released as a stand alone film and it feels like the filmmakers know it,” but calls it an “incredible beginning to an epic final chapter” nonetheless. Comments on the use of the propaganda theme as “engaging and even at times funny,” but points out a bleakness that is “normally reserved for historical war fiction.” Praises the performances of Sutherland, Moore, Hoffman (despite the “sting” that it’s a positive role rather than a dark one) and Wright. Points out the comic relief brought in by Harrelson and Banks. Calls Hemsworth’s performance as “Gail” (um…) good, if stiff when put beside more experienced actors. Also praises Hutcherson and Lawrence, calling the latter’s singing voice “staggeringly good.”
What’s your opinion about these comments, both the positive and the negative? Are you keeping track of the reviews as they come out, or are you holding out to watch the movie first? Do you think this trend of mid-to-high 80’s freshness is going to keep when the movie opens in theaters? Sound off in the comments, and don’t forget to stay tuned for more Review Watch as the days go by. L.A. Premiere tomorrow night! 😀