The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (Part 1) ★★★★☆
The worldwide phenomenon of The Hunger Games continues to set the world on fire with The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, which finds Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in District 13 after she literally shatters the games forever. Under the leadership of President Coin (Julianne Moore) and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and a nation moved by her courage. Rotten Tomatoes
The Hunger Games movie franchise is a hugely successful one, right next to Harry Potter and (regrettably) Twilight. I used to stand strongly in my opinion that a movie adaptation can never beat the original novel(s) it’s based upon. Well, feel free to go ahead and laugh in my face because this film proved me very, very wrong.
I prefer to watch movies in the comfort of my home, with my own bucket of popcorn and snacks that aren’t ridiculously over-priced than going to the cinema. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (Part I) was one of the most (if not the most) anticipated movie of 2014, and I just couldn’t wait either! I queued up with my friends at the cinemas to watch it and boy, am I glad I had.
If you thought the book was beautifully tragic, the movie makes it a point of drawing out all of that from the novel and amplifying it over a million times, leaving the audience both mesmerized and shaken all through out the 123 minutes that Mockingjay: Part I has to offer. The very first scene is a grieving Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), keeping to herself near a heating duct as she mumbles – clearly still stricken by the events that have transpired.
After destroying the arena in Catching Fire and further inciting the rebellion among the districts, Katniss moved to District 13 which is in fact continuing to function underground unbeknownst to the Capitol. Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) having been left behind and now kept captive by the Capitol is a constant source of anger and guilt for Katniss. These emotions conflict in her truly embracing the role of the Mockingjay – something that both Plutarch Havensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore), leader of the rebellion and District 13 want her to do.
Plutarch attempts to kick her into gear as they start producing propaganda videos. It doesn’t go very well, until Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) throws in a helpful suggestion of having her be in real action rather than read lines off of some script. This is when we begin to witness Katniss’s true transformation into the Mockingjay. It’s a combination of the emotional toll of mainly two things: seeing what’s left of her home, District 12, and more significantly, the horrendous bombing of the hospital in District 8.
What follows is one big political game in a growing war-torn nation of Panem. The whole movie is really a gambit of sorts. Although Katniss is the face of the rebellion, she doesn’t have much control over the situation as she watches helplessly from behind screens at what little the Capitol is willing to reveal of her beloved Peeta, further fuelling her rage. Much like the Capitol is using him as a tool, we all begin to realize that she is as much a pawn in the game that the rebellion brings forth.
I walked out of the cinema theatre feeling both emotional and inspired after watching this film. It’s a combination of several factors that made this movie a better watch than the read the original novel has to offer.
We can clearly see that every actor in this movie really took it up to the next level in terms of their performances. From the minor characters such as Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) to our main star, Katniss, the acting on a whole was top-notch especially Jennifer Lawrence’s. I think the effective portrayal of the political turmoil and desperation that forms the crux of the story is what really made this movie the most emotional one yet. As you’re watching the film, you’re right there with Katniss, living the horror through her eyes. You feel everything she does. J-Law’s acting surfaced the character, more so in this movie than in its predecessors. As Katniss transforms into the Mockingjay, you see Jennifer Lawrence become Katniss Everdeen.
And while I’m talking about the actors, let’s not forget the final performance of Philip Seymour Hoffman in this movie. He is the perfect Plutarch Heavensbee, and it was hard to watch him on screen without getting a little emotional over his death. For those of you who are fans of his work, you’ll see him immortalized on screen as he does a wonderful job of playing Plutarch.
Another plus-point is that this film no longer explores the action of the Games in an arena much like the first two did. We see an all-together different side of the story. The uprisings grow in number, and with it, the death tolls of several people that are fighting for their rights. It’s not just a Game confined within an arena but one that shakes the whole of Panem. We also see more of President Snow’s dark side in this film (another example of character building that is clearly shown). Sure, there aren’t as much action sequences in comparison to the previous films but there is an all-together different sense of excitement that is provided to the viewers.
That brings me onto the next point. Some may feel that the film was slow-paced because of its lack of action. Most of the film is spent watching Katniss trying to accept her role in the rebellion as we watch her shoot propaganda videos and try to help move things along for the return of Peeta. Although it didn’t bother me too much, other viewers might find it a little – dare I say – boring.
My next point might get me a little hate from the fans who ship Katniss and Gale (Liam Hemsworth). With Peeta out of the main picture in this film, it’s Gale’s turn in the spotlight to try and woo Katniss over to his side. Sure, they had some cute romantic moments but the chemistry between the two was just dead, even with their acting being brilliant and all. I’m not saying this because I ship Katniss and Peeta (which I do). I find everything romantic, trust me. But there was literally not one pinch of chemistry between Katniss and Gale – which could be a good thing as the main focus of the movie should be the tones of war and politics, not a love triangle. Also, even with Gale grabbing a lot more screen-time than Peeta in Mockingjay: Part I, I feel that the few minutes where Peeta did make it on the screen were far more emotionally appealing than the Katniss and Gale moments that were offered to us. You would have to be an emotionless robot to watch those scenes and not have your heartstrings played. Seriously.
Overall, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (Part I) blew my mind. It’s great to see a mainstream franchise with important themes such as the destructive effects war, politics and propaganda can have on a society become a hit among the younger generation. Even though its based off of a fictional dystopia YA-novel, it appeals to all age groups and with a gripping story and characters, has you sitting on the edge of your seat. The ending was quite psychologically disturbing, and had my stomach churning. It ends on such a note that makes you both dread and anticipate the last instalment of the franchise.
Mockingjay: Part I is personally my favourite film from the series so far. I give it a 4/5 star rating and cannot wait for the final movie to come out. Having read the books, I know it will hit me in the feels just as much as this one did. This was basically me when I watched the movie before the ending sent me over the edge of what was left of my emotions:
Whether you’re a fan of the books, or the movies, or haven’t even read/seen either, I highly recommend this movie to all. A tip though: make sure you have a box of tissues close to you if you get as sentimental as I do (which is a lot).