Now that's what I call a teaser.
Not because it's the most amazing thing I've ever seen, keep in mind, but rather because it's a tease, and that's about it.
The thing that gets me immediately excited about "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1" is that we're going to see a lot more of Philip Seymour Hoffman's character in this one, and we're going to see who he really is, not who he was pretending to be in the last movie. I really liked the way the last few moments he was onscreen redefined everything we'd seen of him up to that point, and I find that I already really miss him, miss knowing that there are more performances of his coming. I want to savor the last few times we're going to see a Hoffman performance for the first time, and he's got a really fun role in these.
Then again, I'm not sure "fun" is the word for what's coming in "Mockingjay." You can see that President Snow (Donald Sutherland) is cracking down on the entire idea of revolution, but that doesn't work. That's what fans the flame. You can't crush a revolution and expect that it will kill the passions behind it as well. I like that the "Hunger Games" series isn't telling the same story in film after film. "Mockingjay" is going to burn down the formula, turing the series into something totally different.
At this point, they're not selling any of the love triangle stuff that was part of the early marketing of the films, and I love that they're emphasizing what is truly important… the journey of Katniss from survivor to leader, from victim to hero. The books are fine, but what distinguishes these films is the performance by Jennifer Lawrence and the honest, amazing way she has made Katniss a real three-dimensional person. Casting counts so much in any film, but this is a case where one moment, one reaction from Lawrence is enough to remind us just how much she's doing to make this special.
"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1" opens in theaters November 21, 2014.