Fire is catching in the The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

     After the success of the Harry Potter film series by making the final book into two movies, it seems like every movie adaptation of popular YA novels is following that model to get all the money possible. In Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, it made the most sense with the length of the book and not trying to cheat the fans; the same with The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn. With The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, the worst book of the series, splitting it into two movies made little sense to me but with more free reign in movies to make changes, it could be made better.

     After opening up to $123 million, the worst book might become the best movie of the series.

     Mockingjay – Part 1 picks up not long after the events of Catching Fire, finding Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), along with fellow Victors Beetee and Finnick Odair in District 13, an underground rebel facility. Katniss has been reunited with her mother and Prim. She doesn’t have long to recover because our heroine is instantly brought into the revolution by President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore), the leader of District 13. After learning her actions during the Quarter Quell has sparked unrest in the districts, Coin wishes to capitalize and strengthen the cause by making Katniss to becoming the “Mockingjay” – the symbol of the rebellion – but Katniss declines. 
     After seeing what the Capitol had done to her home of District 12 and seeing the Capitol using Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) to stop the rebellion and to shake Katniss, she reluctantly changes her mind and becomes the “Mockingjay”. Along with her best friend, Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and a guerrilla film crew that records her battlefield heroics, exposes what the Capitol has done to the districts, and sends it back to the masses of Panem.

     I give a lot of credit to director Francis Lawrence and writers Peter Craig and Danny Strong for bringing in the politics to the forefront of a big-budget film. The subplot of exposing the Capitol’s wrongdoings works well in the grand scheme of the propaganda war between the rebels and President Snow (Donald Sutherland). Jennifer Lawrence once again delivered in her role, taking Katniss in a different direction after the trauma she suffered during the Games. Katniss seemed passive, lacking the fire and smarts that she possessed in the previous film; showing that the events of the Hunger Games has finally caught up to her but once she sees the devastation the Capitol has caused, Jennifer brings the old Katniss out to fight. Hutcherson’s Peeta didn’t have much screen time except for the Capitol television interviews but still had a powerful performance and effect on the characters. During the progression, Peeta looks worse and worse, showing the effects of the torture the Capitol is enacting on him and this torture comes back to haunt Katniss before the film ends.

     Mockingjay Part 1 has one major problem and it’s right there in the title: Part 1. Mockingjay felt like it was needlessly padded with filler scenes, even through they served a purpose to the overall film. It followed the formula that the previous films I mentioned utilized: build up the events in the first part and then create an epic and grand finale to the series in part two. If you have read the book, you know what happens in the novel and how the story ends but I won’t spoil that here. I just wish we didn’t have to wait until next year for the conclusion of The Hunger Games film series.


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