As I was leaving the screening of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1," I overheard a viewer saying, “I didn’t like it, but I want to see how it turns out.” That about sums it up. Audiences will have to wait a year for this franchise to finish, unless, of course, it racks up so many billions that the filmmakers decide to venture into Parts unknown.
As it is, “Mockingjay,” a big bore, suffers from being the transitional event before the big showdown. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) awakens to confinement in an underground rebel hideaway in District 13, where she is enlisted, initially unwillingly, to become “the face of the revolution” by rebel President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) and Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman, to whom the film is dedicated). She also discovers that her Hunger Games cohort Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) is alive and, apparently, brainwashed by Panem’s President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and his nefarious minions. Peeta is the anti-rebel to Katniss’s Joan of Arc.
As an actress, Lawrence has grown beyond this sort of thing, and the entire enterprise, directed by Francis Lawrence, feels like a massive placeholder for the grand finale. What’s onscreen here is none too grand. Grade: C (Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images and thematic material.)