The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Mockingjay-Background

Our Rating

Rachel

It’s a wildly confusing ride for those who aren’t immediately up to date with their Hunger Games canon. It’s been a year since Catching Fire, so for a movie with absolutely no flashbacks and no prologue of any sort, Mockingjay really does put a lot of faith into its audience to remember minute details from before that are somehow important now. I spent a good bit of the movie trying to remember names and events that happened, so I can’t even imagine what it’d be like for those who haven’t watched any of the previous movies.

It almost pains me to say that the film was vastly underwhelming as a whole. You would think for a book so jam packed with action, there’d at least be some in the movie itself – even if it was just half of the book. It’s obvious from the split into two parts that the franchise did itself a huge disservice, scenes are stretched out like butter scraped over too much bread. It was strangely boring for a Hunger Games film, slow and uneventful, which is really such a shame considering how thrilling and exciting the last two movies were.

The majority of the movie is spent on showing us what an asshole the Capitol was being. Scene after scene of the wreckage left behind, traitors being executed, the rebels fighting back. I’m all for dystopia and all that, but we get it. Things are bad. Let’s move on already! Things only started picking up when Gale and his team rescued Peeta from the Capitol. Seeing Peeta violently try to choke Katniss to death was the highlight of the film, but it entirely too little too late.

Not to mention, the story was entirely driving the characters. Everything happens outside of Katniss’ control, and as a result, it didn’t feel like Katniss was doing anything at all. Katniss spends the entire movie gazing into the distance in horror. I lost count of how many times the camera would pan from her distraught face to the disastrous scene before her and dramatic music would wash over us. For such a symbolic and important part of the rebellion, Katniss seemed like she was being swept along for the ride.

Dramatic music! DRAMATIC MUSIC!!!!

Even with all of its flaws – and there are many – there were still character moments that clawed at my heartstrings. Whether it was Katniss dreaming about Peeta coming back, her newfound turmoil with shooting an innocent creature, her singing ‘The Hanging Tree’ and inspiring the masses. However, even with all of these beautiful moments, it wasn’t able to hold up the movie’s sparse story and awkward pacing.

With all that being said, Mockingjay Part 1 is no doubt the weakest of all the Hunger Game films, but it does pave the way for a very interesting (and hopefully, action-packed) finale.

Nadin

Unsurprisingly, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 was – once again – an ode to Jennifer Lawrence’s infinite acting talents. I am still to understand how she makes every film work, which is the fact that no one can deny.

Mockingjay Part 1 is much darker and much more depressing than the previous two films of The Hunger Games series, and it says a lot, seeing as how The Hunger Games and Catching Fire weren’t exactly all sunshine and rainbows to begin with. While the first two films were, in fact, about the Games, the third part of the two-part series finale tackles the poignant issues of freedom and equality, reflecting quite efficiently the problems the modern-day world is dealing with this very moment.

To be fair, I am not a fan of dystopian genre in general and The Hunger Games trilogy in particular. However, I have to admit that Mockingjay Part 1 was the best and the most impressive film of the series so far, and not only because you can feel Katniss’s pain and despair with your very skin through Lawrence’s impressive performance, but also because it shows so much of the world we live in now. I found it quite interesting how it demonstrates the fact that even though Capitol is ‘evil’, the rest of Panem is not exactly Heaven on Earth either. The freedom they are fighting for is nothing but illusion in the background of a very prominent socialism of District 13. I wouldn’t go so far as to call them Nazis, but ‘Heil Hitler Coin!’ was the only thing missing from her impressive speeches. (And don’t tell me it was just me!) Also, it didn’t look like President Coin or anyone else knew what exactly they’d do if they actually won. Sounds familiar?

I’m just making this up as I go along. Seriously.

The film has its issues, of course. For one thing, the first hour feels a bit dragged, what with the long establishment of the political aspects of the story. Important as it was, it felt long. Personally, I am not for or against the decision to divide The Mockingjay into two films but if they shrunk the beginning of Part 1, they could have been good with just one movie.

For once, I was happy to see Katniss not being as in charge as in the previous films because it showed that the future of the world wasn’t in the hands of armed teenagers, no matter how well-trained they were. Kudos for that! The fact that Katniss stayed away from the “Save Peeta” operation though felt odd. It’s okay that she wasn’t on the front lines all the time, but having her sit out the biggest piece of action? I believe her participation would’ve had a much bigger impact. Plus, more JLaw.

It was surreal to see the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman on screen again, and both he and Julianne Moore did a great job with their roles. And of course I can’t not mention Natalie Dormer who was beyond brilliant as Cressida. Excuse me, I need to go and shave half of my head and get a scalp tattoo now! Whoever came up with the idea to put her and JLaw on screen together deserved an award. All the awards even.

Best moment? “My sister gets to keep her cat.”

So, when is the next part coming out?

Anais

Boy that title is a mouthful! I am more and more annoyed by this concept of cutting the last installment of a trilogy in half. It only kind of worked for Harry Potter, because the book was pretty big. Now, every time it happens, I can only think of it as an attempt to get more money from a franchise’s fans. Fortunately, this particular franchise is worth it.

I am not the biggest fan of the Hunger Games books. First, there is the whole Hunger Games vs Battle Royale issue that ruined the first book for me. Looking back, there are some definite differences between the two stories, but they were still similar enough to make me cringe. Then, I am not a huge fan of internal POV. I am not saying that a main character has to be likeable, far from it, but Katniss never seemed like a real person to me until she started having emotional and psychological issues after the games. Even then, I never could appreciate the story fully because I was stuck inside her head and thus unable to see the big picture, while I had to constantly hear her complain about her relationship with Gale and Peeta, which… Seven Hells, Katniss. You’re working on changing the whole goddamn world. Just sleep with both of the dudes when you’re done doing that, jeez, nobody cares.

Excuse me? I’m obviously more fab than Gale.

Anyway. I am not a big fan of The Hunger Games books. The movies, however, are a different story.Mockingjay Part 1 begins when Katniss lives in District 13 under the command of President Alma Coin and Plutarch Heavensbee. Katniss accepts to be their Mockingjay, the face of the revolution that will take down the Capitol. The movie is pretty much just about the propaganda war between the Capitol and the rebels, as well as, well, the actual revolution, all while Katniss is desperately trying to retrieve Peeta from the Capitol.

I loved it. Sure, the plot is a bit thin but I still didn’t check my watch one single time, and the movie is two hours and a half long! I was completely caught in the behind-the-scenes of the revolution, as well as the war between two powers that may not be so different after all. Yes, President Snow is a despotic leader and the Capitol’s reign over the districts is cruel and deserves to be taken down, but being outside of Katniss’ head gives us much more insight on what’s really going on. If the Capitol looks like a tyrannical Empire, District 13, as it controls the rebels from the shadows, feels like another dictatorial regime ready to be born. Caught between them, the people, including Katniss, only aspire to freedom. It’s topical, fascinating, and brilliant. So are the characters and, by extension, the performances of the actors. JLaw brought me to tears several times by the sheer power of her acting. The Hanging Tree is my new favourite song, and can we just talk about how badass those lumberjacks were? Or how I almost broke down in tears when I saw the dedication to PSH?

Ah! Just writing about this movie is giving me chills. I can’t. Bloody. Wait.

Also, needless to say that Natalie Dormer and Jennifer Lawrence will now have to be in all the movies together. I mean, duh.

 

The Breakdown

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Four screenwriters candidly writing about film, television, novels, comic books, video games, and fanfiction.

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