It’s the beginning of the end for The Hunger Games franchise and what a way to start it, Katniss and her District 13 alumi are back, in the grittiest, most political Hunger Games film yet, not full of action like the previous films and with no actual Hunger Games itself, the film is still a good watch throughout.
Mockingjay Part 1 kicks off with an angry and disoriented Katniss, now in the perviously thought destroyed District 14 with some of the victors, Betee, Finnick as well as Gale, president Coin and her advisors as they assess the situation and plan freedom for all of Panem and their attack on the capitol. With the use of Katniss as a central symbol to unite the districts in rebellion and to incite fear into the capitol, Katniss, Finnick and Beetee were rescued from the area at the end of Catching Fire but Peeta wasn’t, he wasn’t recovered and was captured by the capitol, a pretty significant plot point.
What follows in the film is the gritty reality of the rebellion and the war, with Katniss seeing the effect of war and what it’s done to Panem, she visits a hospital in one scene, just minutes before it’s bombe by the dastardly presient snow, probably twirling his snow white mustache as the raid was carried out. And seeing Katniss out there reacting to the different districts under distress and all was great, it really translates believably on screen and it was nice that the books were mostly kept to as well. The stakes are obviously higher now with all of Panem being the arena in in a sense and the freedom of all the districts being fought for. And while there were scenes with some tension, especially near the end with Peetas’ rescue mission, you never really felt like Katniss was ever in mortal danger, but again, you do near the end.
A criticism of Mockingjay Part 1 could be that there wasn’t that much to it in terms of action, though it is a important point in the Hunger Games story as a whole, it just felt a lot more uneventful than The Hunger Games previous films. But in saying that, Mockingjay does balance action with a lot of emotional drama and tension, you really feel for Katniss, what she’s going through and further than that, you feel sorry for the poor districts dwellers, fighting for their freedom. Peeta played an important part in the film, being used a form of pyschological torture on Katniss, the capitol re-conditioning him to hate Katniss and see her as an enemy, which is revealed by the end of the film which is tragic. Seeing the two former friends turned lovers at each others throats literally was rough and seriously, Katniss does not get an easy ride in Mockingjay. The use of Peeta was a good plot point though, to add some more depth to their relationship, stretching it to breaking point and giving Team Katniss a headache when it comes to what to do with him now. The acting was great throughout and Mockingjay so far has featured some of Jennifer Lawrences most emotional and best performances in the series so far, while Donald Sutherland is great once again as Katniss’ opposite, the cold and calculating president snow. The newcomers in Cressida, Pollux, Castor and Messalla were well cast but played a minor role in part 1, though Julianne Moore was great as the calm, determined president Alma Coin.
And yeah, things only really get a bit darker from here into part 2 but the ending (if you’ve read the books) isn’t out and out depressing, which is good. But all in all Mockingjay Part 1 is an overall entertaining, well paced and well structured film, showing the gritty reality of panem and showing Katniss at some of her lowest and fascinating points in the story.
. Great portrayal of the media, in how events can be portrayed and what messages they send e.g. editing Katniss being on the frontline to make an inspirational video
. The gritty feel of the film is hard hitting, gives a sense of ‘realism’ to the fantasy
. Great use of Peeta in the film, made for great drama with Katniss