I really didn't like The Hunger Games book or movie. Catching Fire piqued my interest, but Mockingjay is really starting to impress me. Now, be warned: I only read the first book, so I apologize if I'm not complaining about book vs. movie accuracies. I'm speaking merely to Mockingjay as a film.
Mockingjay Part 1 really doesn't have the characteristics of your average blockbuster. First, it definitely wasn't the most action-packed movie in the series. It allowed itself to be a little slower, like a set up for the next film. It was really refreshing, because it was able to be a little more philosophical. It commented on the nature of a revolution that was extremely interesting, not giving too much favor to either side. It focused on the propaganda aspect of a rebellion with Katniss and the "good guys" using videos and film to get people on their side, just like the opposing side was doing as well. This idea of both sides manipulating the emotions of the people through media keeps you from getting too comfortable with any of the characters. No one in this movie is truly pure and likable. (Apart from Liam Hemsworth's character)
The speed at which the story is told allowed us to see pieces of Panem we hadn't seen before. With all the focus on the Games, we definitely don't see very much of this semi-post-apocalyptic world in the other films in the series. While yes, it would have been nice to see more, we did at least get a glimpse of what some other districts were going through during the turmoil. We also got a really good peek at how large the Capital really is as a city. I'm really hoping we see more in the next film.
Jennifer Lawrence does a great job in these movies. She is pretty unlikable as a main protagonist, but you appreciate her. She really is just constantly using Peeta and Gale, but somehow we're okay with that. Her character is borderline sociopathic but strong nonetheless. The hunky Gale (Liam Hemsworth) serves to be a pretty face and the hero-type guy, but not much else. We get to see him a good bit more, but like Josh Hutchinson's character, no one is as intriguing as Jennifer Lawrence, who really makes the movie.
This movie shows us that Mockingjay really couldn't have been one film. With this two-part finale thing movies are doing these days, we can stop and smell the roses and get really deep into the world in a way that a single film couldn't have done. (Hobbit is the exception. So terrible) I think Part 2 is going to be the insane blockbuster that everyone's been waiting for, but after Part 1, I trust that it can stay intelligent and self-aware.