Even though it ultimately feels like the predecessor it really is, Mocking Jay Part 1 is unfortunately barely above the entertainment level. Although much better then any of the Twilight movies, this an between movie that never levels up to the likes of even Deathly Hallows Part 1, or several split films before it.
What's unusual about the Hunger Games: Mockingjay is that there are so many things in the film that make it work, but then there are things that don't. It's no where near as good as Catching Fire. It's as if the Hunger Games film series took a step down and said, 'let's take a breather.'
The production of the film seemed to have gone downhill from Catching Fire-everything seems smaller. The special effects are a bit weaker, and the set pieces, aside from the blown up scenes of district 12, are casual at best. It was these trademarks that what made Catching Fire such a remarkable film, along with great acting storytelling and drama.
The drama is still there in Mockingjay, Part 1, which is what keeps it fresh. We finally get to see Katniss back with Gale, and the two actors do have a bit of a chemistry together on screen.
But what makes Mockingjay is the friction between Lawrence, Julianne Moore and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. The acting these three deliver in this film is superb. Jennifer Lawrence truly shines as Katniss Everdeen throughout the film, owning up to the part that everyone loves so much. Julianne Moore gives a suprising performance as District 13 leader President Alma Coin, and Hoffman is great as ever in the last roll he played before passing on.
If anything, Mocking Jay Part 1 is worth watching just to see these three actors together.
Aside from that, it's overly long and a bit tidious at times, despite a fairly interesting topic.
For Hunger Games fans, the movie will most likely be accecpted, but it could have been done just a tad bit better, especially after the greatness of Catching Fire.
Where can you watch it on demand?
Special Note: The Hunger Games movies have moved from Netflix to Hulu Plus. You can watch Catching Fire & Mockingjay Part 1 there.