Cast – Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Phillip Seymour Hoffman (RIP), Julianne Moore, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson
Alluring element – S*** finally gets real in the Hunger Games saga! Check it out if you liked – The Hunger Games franchise, other young adult lit turned film
Plot – 8 Acting – 8 Representation of Genre – 8 Cinematography – 9 Effects/Environment – 9 Captivity – 9 Logical Consistency – 8 Originality/Creativity – 8 Soundtrack/Music – 8 Overall Awesomeness – 8
When Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games adaptation came to the big screen, I was ecstatic. Me, who had been a literary disaster since choosing to go to an engineering college after high school, who had not read a book without pictures in it since Huckleberry Finn. The Hunger Games was the first story where I felt fully immersed in the world I was reading about.So far, the movies have been pretty great at capturing that same fire (heh) and excitement that I had when I read the books for the first time. Heck, we gave Catching Fire a 91%. Only a year has passed since the second installment came out, but so much has happened since.
Jennifer Lawrence’s off-screen drama has been a severe distraction (not her fault, but a reality nevertheless), and the thought of a grown and sexy JLaw (ala American Hustle) was just too awkward when you consider she is playing a 17 year old Katniss Everdeen. The negative reception that the film has received since its release was disheartening. Going in, all this movie had to do to impress us was, quite blatantly, not suck. The result was one of mixed feelings; this film far from sucked, but from the start, we definitely felt that Mockingjay did not need to be split into two films – something that really has, or ever will, only worked for Harry Potter. The final movie in the trilogy had the potential to be the heart-pounding finale that we all deserved, but instead, the heart-wrenching powerful moments were broken up by a casually-paced and matter-of-fact story progression.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let me tell you how much I genuinely enjoyed Mockingjay. The arena has always been one of the more interesting aspects of the books, and so by actually pulling our heads out of the District 12 sandbox we’ve had our heads in this whole time, we are able to connect to the other Districts. That connection is really what drives the film until the end. From Katniss’ guest appearance in District 8 to District 5’s courageous effort at the dam, you understand that everybody is fighting against a common goal. Katniss, the Mockingjay, is at the center of all this, but while it might seem like she is the spark of hope, she is turned into nothing short of a puppet, a symbol for hope, by District 13 President Coin. It actually reminded me of the way Captain America was used to punch fake Hitlers and rile up the crowd when he had a perfectly adequate skills for actually taking on the enemy. And like Captain America, Katniss pushes herself right into harms way to get her point across.
Another big theme here is propaganda, or propos as Heavensbee would like to to call them. Basically spitting back out the same strategies that the Capitol is using against them, District 13 sends their camera crew to follow Katniss and get usable footage for these advertisements is really no better than your local Congressmen’s ads that run during Scandal. The only reason I can forgive it from 13 is that they have Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones) on the mic. But seriously, taking advantage of Katniss’ vulnerability (and, in the process, turning Jennifer Lawrence into a pop star!) during her “Hanging Tree” performance is really just as despicable as the Capitol using Peeta against her. It’s a topic I wish the film would have dove in on, especially since it had two hours to do so. Katniss is just a tool, and will be treated with such revery only as long as it serves District 13’s purpose.
On the bright side, we get a noticeable decline in both Blair Witch camera and Jennifer Lawrence cry face – a repeat offender in the first couple films. The supporting cast this time around was much stronger, too. Julianne Moore and Phillip Seymour Hoffman (RIP) play a perfect President Coin and Plutarch Heavensbee, and on the other side of the mirror, Donald Sutherland is even more frightening than before as President Snow. Jeffrey Wright also makes his return as the genius Beetee, who is finally realized as the vital character that always has been. It’s also nice to see him back to being a good guy after his villainous stint in Boardwalk Empire. The old gang also makes a return, with a made-down Effie Trinket and sober Haymitch rounding out the cast with Gale, ever-ready to play soldier and submit himself to the cause.
At some point in the movie, the revolution turned into a love story. I know this is a movie aimed at teenagers, but it can get eye-rolling at the fact that, in a middle of a rebellion, with so many other brave and adult decisions being made, a young woman’s sole interest is not overthrowing the government, but saving her boyfriend. I’ve read that Jennifer Lawrence once tried out for Bella in Twilight; well, it looks like she won’t have to be in a sucky vampire movie to play the role of Bumbling Idiot in a Love Triangle; she has that already. This is not a love story, and it doesn’t need to be a love story to keep teenage girls interested.
Overall, I really enjoyed Mockingjay: Part 1. There are many things happening and in an entirely new environment – enough to keep me engaged the entire time (and I am notorious for falling asleep through movies). That being said, I’m still convinced that a single movie to encompass the third book should have been in order. For its own two-hour block, it would have nice to touch over the more subtle themes of the book – especially the propaganda. If they were going to use it in the promotional materials, why not discuss it in the movie? There is simply too much exposition for this film to catch fire like its predecessor did. However, with the finale guaranteed to break hearts and box office records, there’s still a lot to look forward to when the finale rolls around next November.
All pictures belong to Lionsgate production company.