This weekend, The Hunger Games: MockingJay, Part 1 hit theaters, and let me say this: Considering this could have been a mere placeholder for the final film, it was actually kind of awesome.
Coin is disappointed — she had been under the impression that Katniss was a feisty, fiery leader. In an effort to stoke the flames of her hatred for the Capitol, they decide to send Katniss to see the charred remains of District 12, which used to be her home. The Hall of Justice lay in ruins, like much of the rest of the town. Katniss comes across mounds of charred bodies, people who were killed while trying to escape the fire-bombing. Surprisingly, her home in the Victors’ Village was unharmed; in a vase of dead, dried flowers, Katniss finds a beautiful white rose on the cusp of blossoming, which had clearly been left for her to find.
From that point, Plutarch, Beetee (Jeffrey Wright), and Coin decide that Katniss should make a series of propaganda films that they can then air to all the districts. These films will serve the purpose of showing them that Katniss is alive and well, and also incite them to action, to fan the flames of the rebellion. At first they try to film Katniss in a studio and then edit the footage so that it looks like she’s in the midst of battle, but her performance is stiff and unconvincing. Haymitch points out that the most inspiring things Katniss has said and done were not things she’d been told to do or say, but rather were things she’d done on her own. So instead of getting Katniss to fake it, they decide to fly her into District 8, which is an inactive war zone, to film her seeing the far-reaching destruction that the Capitol has wrought.
Thoughts and Feedback
There are two main storylines in this film. It follows the rescue of Peeta from the Capitol, but it also shows Katniss transform from the reluctant revolutionary to the Mockingjay, the personification of righteousness and freedom from oppression. One of the most boring parts of the book was all the time that was spent showing what life was like underground in District 13; although the reader gets a lot of supplementary information in that time, like how District 13 survived, what they’ve been doing, and what their bigger plans are, those parts of the book were slow and boring. They’re pretty much the reason why the third book was my least favorite.
Don’t go into this expecting a lot of action. I definitely wouldn’t call this movie boring, but it doesn’t have quite as much action as the first two movies. However, everything about this movie feels bigger, and I think that’s because the stakes are higher. It really feels like The Hunger Games and Catching Fire were stepping stones, building up to this impending civil war that’s starting to break out in Mockingjay, Part 1. And what it lacks in action it makes up for in powerful themes and imagery — there are many moments where you’ll find yourself taken aback, shocked, surprised, and captivated. Though lacking in hand-to-hand combat, there’s plenty here to hold your attention. It’s a smarter film, and a much darker film, with political subtexts and most of the action being abstract, subtle happenings, but with huge implications. Like I said, the stakes are much, much higher this time around, and you can feel that from the moment the film starts through to the end credits.
Box Office Performance and Reception
Mockingjay, Part 2