The Bock’s Office: ‘Mockingjay’ almost satisfies your hunger | CraigDailyPress.com

The Bock’s Office: ‘Mockingjay’ almost satisfies your hunger

Katniss Everdeen and Gale Hawthorne (Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth) lead a team through the wreckage of Panem in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1.” The movie is about the continued efforts of a teenage girl helping to overthrow a corrupt government.





Katniss Everdeen and Gale Hawthorne (Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth) lead a team through the wreckage of Panem in "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1." The movie is about the continued efforts of a teenage girl helping to overthrow a corrupt government.

Given the title of the series and the time of its release, you can't talk about "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1" without making a Thanksgiving joke. The difficulty with that is that while people may be ravenous for more of the franchise, right now, they're only getting appetizers.

If you go

"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1," rated PG-13

Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars

Running time: 123 minutes

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth and Woody Harrelson

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Now playing at Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas and Craig's West Theatre.

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has made it through another go-around in the arena of The Hunger Games, but she's not feeling too fortunate. With Panem's District 12 wiped out, those who have survived are now living in the hidden District 13, where an army has been amassed, preparing for a rebellion against the Capitol.

Those running the operation have a very special job in mind for Katniss, asking her to act as the Mockingjay, a symbol of defiance against the system that has kept the people of Panem at bay for too long. By keeping her visible, it will give folks hope and also keep the cause going strong.

Katniss remains uncomfortable with this idea, unable to trust those who saved her yet left others for dead, including her confidante, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), being held hostage by the Capitol. Still, the need for her to rise to the occasion becomes unavoidable when she learns how many believe in her and that hesitation to act may cost many more lives.

Lawrence's greatest capability as an actress is that, like the heroine who has brought her the most fame, she plays it straight, even at the most difficult points. Facing more chaos than any adult — let alone a teenager — could hope to have thrown at them, accompanied by nightmares, the fragile emotional state is captured well by the young woman we know by now to be able to hit the target of believability without needing to pull out the incendiary arrows from her quiver.

Liam Hemsworth steps up as Katniss' "sorta friend/sorta maybe more," Gale, taking life as a rebel naturally while still offering a shoulder for support when needed. We know who's the fighter, but as for the lover in this love triangle, Hutcherson has the hardest task as Peeta, televised for all the world to see as a strung-out, obvious victim of brainwashing and another personal reminder for Katniss of all she has to lose.

Of course, the bigwigs of District 13 are quick to tell her that anyway, whether it's Woody Harrelson as her begrudgingly sober mentor, Haymitch Abernathy; the late Philip Seymour Hoffman as strategist Plutarch Heavensbee; or their shrewd leader, President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore), whose barely passable ability at rallying a crowd may explain why she needs a girl in a bird costume to do it for her.

Say what you will about the villainous President Snow (Donald Sutherland), but at least he keeps your attention when he's on a TV screen. And that's not just because it's mandatory viewing.

The third entry in Suzanne Collins' trilogy seems to say very little while trying to say a lot about the role of media in warfare and social change, as both the rebels and the Capitol put forth plenty of propaganda to spin conditions their way, the only real message being that you can say whatever you want as long as you frame it the right way.

Someone should have mentioned that to the team that decided a two-part story was necessary. Maybe, just maybe, the script can be stretched out to sustain two full-length films, but that decision was purely money-based, no doubt, and as with so many other series, it feels like they're stalling for time before the big finale.

You can't gripe too much about any movie led by Lawrence and an ensemble that's worked together so well, but where the action and drama should both soar, it's just a matter of gliding, knowing people will buy tickets twice no matter how gratuitous it may be.

Even with its flaws, "Mockingjay — Part 1" won't disappoint its fans and may, in its padded-out presentation, serve to get them ready for the thrilling conclusion they've wanted all along. If that's your angle, moviemakers, then stick with it, but if "Part 2" doesn't prove worth the anticipation, you'll be burning with us.

Or some vaguely similar threat. I don't know, it sounds cooler when Katniss says it.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com or follow him on Twitter @TheBocksOffice.

If you go

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1,” rated PG-13

Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars

Running time: 123 minutes

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth and Woody Harrelson

Now playing at Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas and Craig’s West Theatre.