‘Mockingjay’ sells the sizzle, not the steak | Inquirer Entertainment

‘Mockingjay’ sells the sizzle, not the steak

By: - Entertainment Editor
/ 12:51 AM November 22, 2014

LAWRENCE AND HUTCHERSON. Will Peeta and Katniss’ “manufactured” romance survive?

LAWRENCE AND HUTCHERSON. Will Peeta and Katniss’ “manufactured” romance survive?

The penultimate installment of “The Hunger Games” saga goes deeper into politics and dark propaganda—but, while that gives the franchise’s avid followers more thematic “meat” to chew on, it also leaves them feeling short-changed about “Mockingjay, Part 1’s” utter lack of edge-of-your-seat action sequences—which were its predecessors’ strongest suit!

Yes, an actioner needs subtle, lucid moments to put its explosive sections in sobering perspective—but, Francis Lawrence’s film feels “stretched,” perhaps to extend the series’ income-generating capacity and justify its “Part 2.”


And, when you see the charismatic winner of the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (the earnest-as-ever Jennifer Lawrence), looking enraged as she watches Districts 8 and 13 turn to rubble, you can’t shake the feeling that you’re being sold “the sizzle, not the steak”—an old sales aphorism that has worked wonders for other financially lucrative series like “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” at the box office—but, with mixed results here.


After shooting down the dome of the Games’ force field, and the Capitol’s surveillance system with it, the stubborn teenage heroine goes underground and, with rebellion leader Alma Coin (Julianne Moore), Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffmann), a “color-compromised” Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) and the now-sober Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) behind her, she must rally the residents of other districts to rise up against the administration of tyrannical President Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland)!

Katniss is faced with a major stumbling block to freedom, however—Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), who was captured by the Capitol’s forces at the end of “Catching Fire,” and subjected to—OK, stop, no spoilers here!

Is Peeta friend  of the Mockingjay revolution—or, like Anakin Skywalker, has he turned to the Dark Side? Suffice it to say that his actions will have a striking impact on Katniss’ decisions!

If you haven’t seen “Hunger Games’” previous installments, it’s best to brush up on the events that transpired before “Mockingjay” to avoid getting confounded by the concluding series’ convoluted twists.

JLaw’s stellar presence and empathetic intensity will keep you watching—but, at the back of your mind, you know that Katniss’ tale could have been tighter, grittier and more compelling if the series didn’t milk its revenue-generating potential with a two-part finale! —What does that say about Hollywood? Ho and hmmm!

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TAGS: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Julianne Moore, Katniss Everdeen, Mockingjay, The Hunger Games

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