LC and I went to see "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part One" last night. It's a very well-made film, the performances are all perfectly fine, and it's generally good. But there's one fundamental problem: half of it is missing.
The reason splitting a single novel into more than one film is simple. A novel has a very obvious structure - a beginning, a middle, and an end. Even in the case of a middle volume of a trilogy, this is still true - "The Empire Strikes Back" might end on a cliffhanger, but it still stands alone as a film in its own right.
Splitting one book into two (or more!) films means breaking that structure: B/M/E becomes B/M/E/B/M/E. It just doesn't work.
And so, "Mockingjay, Part One" suffers from exactly the same problem as "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part One" (and, no doubt, "Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part One") - they've stretched the half of the novel, the bit that's supposed to build up to the climax of the series, out so it's a 2-hour film, and then stopped. And we're left with a film where nothing much happens, and then we get left hanging.
Once Part Two is out, and even better when we have them on blu-ray and can watch them back to back, it will no doubt be fine. But as long as it stands alone, it's just not good.
On the plus side, this does mean that Part Two should be one to look forward to. It basically starts with the climax of the series, can cut straight to the chase, and should therefore be a lot of fun. It's just a real shame that the price for that is that this film has been sacrificed for the sake of an extra opening weekend at the box office.
#57: "Red Dwarf: Backwards", by Rob Grant