The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1 (2014)
Suddenly, there was a burst of light and Katniss found herself in a strange new place. The cliffhanger ending to Catching Fire left many Hunger Games fans on the edge of their seats. So what happens next in the story? If you can’t hold your horses any longer, then you may want to check out The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1. Sure, you’ll only get half of the story, but if you’re a diehard fan, it may be just enough to tide you over.
The film kicks off where the last one left off: Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) regaining consciousness. She’s in a strange place, which turns out to be District 13, a district that hid themselves underground in order to escape the totalitarian control of President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and the Capitol. District 13 is known for being technologically savvy, which they use to help infiltrate the Capitol’s news broadcasts and gather intel.
After recuperating from her injuries, Katniss is reunited with her mother and sister and finds out that their home of District 12 is no more. She meets again with former Gamemaker Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), who introduces her to President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore), who informs Katniss that Panem is now chaotic and unstable because of the riots that were inspired by her actions in the games. She asks Katniss to become the “Mockingjay”, the symbol of the revolution, but when Katniss declines, Coin enlists everyone in her life to convince her otherwise.
Gale (Liam Hemsworth) urges Coin to give the two of them permission to go back to District 12 in order to show Katniss the aftermath of the destruction of her home. This gives her the courage to accept Coin’s offer, but only if she pardons Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and the other tributes when they’re eventually rescued from the Capitol.
The district wastes some time trying to record Katniss in various propaganda videos. Eventually, Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) comes up with the idea to have a film crew record her out in the field, because Katniss is more of a spontaneous person than an actress. This proves fruitful, as Katniss visits a hospital that’s later attacked by the Capitol. Katniss jumps into action and gives a powerful speech that gets broadcast to the rebelling districts.
Meanwhile, the Capitol continues to broadcast interviews with Peeta, which reveal he’s being tortured and brainwashed by the Capitol. This inspires Katniss to work harder to encourage District 13 to lead a rescue mission. However, the Capitol catches wind of District 13’s motives and sends an air raid to blast their bunkers. Luckily, everyone survives. Soon after, District 13 mounts a rescue mission, suspiciously without running into much resistance, and recovers Peeta and some of the remaining tributes. Excited, Katniss runs to greet Peeta, who jumps into action to kill her. Part 1 ends with the realization that Peeta has his sights set on killing his one-time fiancée.
You’ve probably heard it time and time again, but when it comes to book to film adaptations, you’re usually better off checking out the book. In this case, the book will offer a complete story, rather than giving us nothing more than half a story stretched thin to meet the two-plus-hour quota that the series seems to follow. For some reason, filmmakers seem to want to spread out a single book into two movies lately, which in my opinion makes these films drag, especially when it comes to Young Adult novels that don’t have a whole lot of in-depth detail to begin with. However, despite getting a two-for-one deal on this final book-to-movie adaption, they managed to leave out some pretty awesome elements, like the backstory behind the Avox.
Other than raking in the money, I feel like this last film was separated into two parts mainly to show the audience the atrocities that happen during a revolution. Katniss begins to get the idea that she’s in for more than she bargained when she goes to check out a hospital that’s later bombed. As the Mockingjay, she’s entirely protected from everything that’s going on, yet her actions encourage people to lay down their lives. Although I got the feeling that Katniss was starting to get the picture, her naiveté really stands out. A lot of this, I think, has to do with the fact that she’s supposed to be a teenager, but Jennifer Lawrence also has this childish vibe to her in just about every film she does. I guess you either love Lawrence or hate her, but rather than watching the strong Katniss Everdeen on the big screen, I feel like I’m watching a rerun of the numerous award shows where Lawrence shows off her clumsy and dorky personality.
Another thing I didn’t enjoy about this film is it really cuts out some of the character development. In the Mockingjay book, you get to see a really bad side of President Coin and even Gale; however, in the film, I probably would have thought they were perfectly decent people if I hadn’t read the novel before watching the film. There were quite a few sick things both characters did in the book that are merely hinted at in the film. This, in my opinion, takes away from the story and shows the revolution from one biased side.
Peeta is only a glimmer in this movie, too. In the book, you get a little more insight as to what’s happening with the third member of this love triangle, but the film only brings us snippets of Peeta as he begins to look thinner and more gaunt. All the same, I think Josh Hutcherson did a good job playing the character, although I doubt he got over ten lines.
The CGI in the film is pretty cool, though. They give Katniss an awesome set of arrows that can take down Capitol fighter jets. However, despite this, there’s actually very little action in this film at all. So if you’re not a dialogue person, then Mockingjay — Part 1 may be pretty tedious for you.
All in all, Mockingjay — Part 1 isn’t all that bad, but isn’t all that great either. The main problem is we now have to dedicate another two or so hours just to finish the story. However, if you like stories that are drawn out and only have a fraction of the quality of the first movie, then check out Mockingjay — Part 1, but just know you’ll be in for a semi-cliffhanger ending. The real ending doesn’t happen until Mockingjay — Part 2, which I’ll be reviewing next week.