Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games movies.
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games movies.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 - what the critics say

CRITICS are lukewarm on the latest Hunger Games film, with some calling it a 'cash-in' and questioning the decision to split the final installment in two.   T

he dazzle of camera flashes has faded and the red carpet has been rolled away following the glittery world premiere of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.  

Now the critics have weighed in on the film - the first of two that will conclude the hugely successful Hunger Games franchise - and they haven't pulled punches. Lacklustre three-star reviews have been near-ubiquitous, with some critics calling the film a "cash-in" and many lamenting the decision to drag the final installment out in to two parts.  

The Independent, which gave the film three out of five stars, said it matched previous installments for performance and production values, but added it "still feels like half a movie".  

"The film doesn't exactly disappoint but nor does it satisfy. There is a half a sandwich feel to the latest instalment - a sense that the film makers have denied us a full experience by splitting the movie into two."  

The Independent was not without praise, however, with reviewer Geoffrey Macnab saying leading lady Jennifer Lawrence was "again tremendous as Katniss".  

Jennifer Lawrence at the world premiere in London of the The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.
Jennifer Lawrence at the world premiere in London of the The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.

  Macnab also praised the director's decision to use "redoubtable character actors" whom he said gave the film "gravitas and wit".  

He singled out the "briliant" Philip Seymour Hoffman, whose performance as Plutarch Heavensbee was completed using digital technology after the acclaimed actor died earlier this year.  

Daily Mail critic Brain Viner, who gave the film three stars, also lamented the decision to split the film in two, calling it a "cynical decision" designed to enrich film executives.  

He said the film toned down the explicit violence of previous installments, and played more like "a psychological thriller, and a study of post-traumatic stress syndrome".  

"I wait with almost-bated breath for part two, a year from now. But I wish I didn't have to."  

The Guardian's reviewer Henry Barnes, who gave the film three stars, was also critical of the film's commercial imperative, calling it a "multimillion dollar stopgap".  

"The games are over, but the cash-in continues," he wrote. "Director Francis Laurence ekes a paltry story out. The special effects are limp and the script a little creaky, although somehow it still manages to thrill."  

Lorde, Natalie Dormer, Jennifer Lawrence and Elizabeth Banks.

  Another three-star review came from The Telegraph's Robbie Collin, who said the film was stylish, well-acted and intense - but also unsatisfying.  

"As you watch, you can feel a franchise being eked out to squeaking point: like the two-part conclusions to the Harry Potter and Twilight series, this feels like a business decision rather than a creative one.  

"Only the most uncritical fans, for whom more will always unquestionably be better, could possibly be at peace with two hours of preamble with no discernible payoff."  

Variety's chief film critic said the film was solid but not exactly inspiring.  

"Unsubtly resonant, at times quite rousing and somewhat unsatisfying by design, this penultimate series entry is a tale of mass uprising and media manipulation that itself evinces no hint of a rebellious streak or subversive spirit: Suzanne Collins' novels may have warned against the dangers of giving the masses exactly what they want to see, but at this point, the forces behind this hugely commercial property are not about to risk doing anything but."  

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is out in Australia on November 20. The soundtrack, by Lorde, is out on Friday.