The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, part I

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

After being rescued from the destroyed Games arena in the previous film, Katniss, along with fellow Victors Beetee and Finnick Odair, are taken to District 13, an underground rebel facility hidden beneath the ruins of the old District 13, where she is reunited with her mother and Prim. Before getting the chance to recuperate, she is immediately introduced to President Alma Coin, the rebel leader, and is told that her actions in the arena sparked riots and strikes against the Capitol. Coin asks her if she will become the “Mockingjay” – the symbol of the rebellion – but Katniss flatly declines, angrily reminding them that they left Peeta behind in the arena. At the suggestion of Plutarch Heavensbee, the former Game-Maker, she is taken to see the ruins of District 12, which was completely levelled by a Capitol bombing campaign (with the exception of her house in Victor’s Village). After seeing that Peeta is being used by Capitol state television to try and quell the rebellion, Katniss reluctantly changes her mind and agrees to become Coin’s Mockingjay, on condition that Peeta and the other victors will be rescued, and pardoned, at the earliest opportunity.

After Haymitch notes that Katniss thrives on spontaneity, she is introduced to her film team, led by Cressida, is dressed up in a specially-designed outfit and given Effie Trinket as a stylist and Gale as a bodyguard. They go out to District 8 to visit a hospital, but as the visit concludes, a Capitol bombing squadron arrives and bombs the hospital, killing everyone inside. In her rage, Katniss gives a rousing speech to the camera, which is broadcast when Beetee hijacks the Capitol’s news feed. The team then go back to District 12, where Gale tells the story of its destruction, and Katniss is filmed singing the song “The Hanging Tree.” After both are broadcast, strikers in District 7 kill an entire team of Peacekeepers with hidden land mines, and a rebel demolition team destroys the dam providing the Capitol with electricity, forcing them to use power generators and weakening their ability to broadcast their propaganda.

That night, Katniss is watching Peeta being interviewed by Caesar Flickerman, the Games’ former presenter, when he suddenly shouts a warning that the Capitol is about to attack District 13. Coin orders a mass evacuation into the underground shelters, and although Prim is almost locked out when she goes back to get her cat, everyone manages to get inside safely, and the facility survives the attack with no casualties. Upon emerging, Katniss discovers that the area is littered with white roses, and realises that President Snow has sent them to taunt her, and that he is about to kill Peeta. Because Peeta’s actions gave the District an additional eight minutes warning, Coin despatches an elite special forces team, which includes Gale, to rescue the remaining Victors. The rescue is successful, and all of the surviving Victors are rescued. However, when Katniss goes to greet Peeta, he unexpectedly attacks her and strangles her into unconsciousness.

Katniss wakes up in the medical facility, and is informed that Peeta has been ‘hijacked’ – brainwashed into wanting to kill Katniss through aversion therapy and tracker jacker venom. A process to undo the therapy is underway. Meanwhile, Coin announces the successful rescue of the Victors, and that the fight may now be taken to the Capitol

REVIEW:

Is it me, or does it seem like forever and a day between The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, part I? Maybe I’m thinking that since it has been so long since I read the books. Who knows? So, here we are following the depressing adventures of Katniss Everdeen again, but what happens this time to keep us interested and should we care at this point?

What is this about?

With the Games now destroyed and in pieces, Katniss Everdeen, along with Gale, Finnick and Beetee, now end up in the so thought “destroyed” District 13. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her friends, Katniss becomes the “Mockingjay” and the symbol of rebellion for the people.

What did I like?

Strong Gale. Fans of the books have been waiting for Liam Hemsworth’s character, Gale to get some major screentime and more than just a couple of lines at the beginning and a moment with Jennifer Lawrence’s character. In the books, though, he has more to than we’ve seen in the films, but the majority of his scenes come in the third book. Hemsworth has been waiting for this chance and now that he has it, he is taking full advantage of showing how strong a character Gale actually is, not to mention the truly talented actor he really is.

The book says. I don’t think there is anyone that complains more about being true to the source material than I. As far as I can tell, with the exception of Effie being part of the film, this is the most faithful to a book adaptation as I’ve seen. In this day and age when everything needs to be changed to appeal to this audience and to not offend this sector of the viewing public, this film proves that staying true to the source material can work. This is also a testament to Suzanne Collins’ work.

Tasteful. I want to take a moment and say how thankful I am that in all of the news about this film, no one has mentioned the fact that Phillip Seymour Hoffman passed away during filming. It is said that he had completed his scenes before his death. Regardless of the circumstances in which Hoffman passed, there is no need to ask questions about someone who isn’t with us anymore. The people behind this film have been very tactful in the handling of this situation from day one and the “in memory of” before the credits began to roll was very tasteful.

Hanging Tree. There is a little scene from the book, that I wasn’t sure would be included in the film, where Katniss is doing her job as the Mockingjay and starts singing a song from her childhood, “The Hanging Tree.” This is no happy song, though the tune will stick in your head. Think of the kind of gut wrenching tunes you would get from Nina Simone or Billie Holiday and you know what to expect or, as someone pointed out to me a few minutes ago, you can compare it to “Hoist the Colors” from Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World’s End. At any rate, this is a great little moment that I feel needed to be in here. Also, Jennifer Lawrence doesn’t have a bad singing voice.

What didn’t I like?

Cry me a river. In The Hunger Games, Katniss was portrayed as a strong-willed, cold young woman with little to no emotion, save for her connection to her sister, and eventually Peeta. I guess the years have mellowed her because she is balling like a baby who had her bottle taking away for a good portion of her scenes. I wouldn’t make a big deal about this, except this is not the character we have come to know over the past couple of films. The only time we actually see her break her walls down is when it has involved her sister or something has happened to Peeta, not at the slightest change in dynamic. It really started to grate on me having to watch her cry and cry, and then cry some more. Enough is enough!

Bogged down. Commander Boggs is a character that didn’t have much to do in the book, from what I recall, but he was more than just standing around at attention most of the time, as he does in the film. Much like Gale, I think his best scenes are coming up in the second half, but something more could have been done with this guy. Otherwise, why do we even care who he is? This goes double since we are just now meeting him. With Gale, we’ve seen him in two previous films, so he has that to fall back on.

The split. Movie studios are greedy! Notice that this is part I, yet the book did everything in about 300 pages. Why is it studios feel the need to split things up that don’t need to be split? A similar scenario happened with the Harry Potter franchise. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part I consisted of lots of talking and little to no action, but it led up to the exciting and penultimate Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part II. Will this film follow suit? The studio execs are hoping so, but here’s the things. Nothing happens in this film that couldn’t have been condensed into one big finale of a film. This wasn’t a decision made because too much happens because, as we see, that isn’t the case. It was a decision based on how much money they can squeeze from us fans!

Coming out of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, part I, I felt slightly agitated. I just spent 2 1/2 hours watching a film that was highly anticipated all year, and nothing really happened. On top of that, as the theater made sure to inform everyone, there are 359 days until part 2! However, for a setup film, it isn’t bad and there are a few scenes of action. It isn’t like this is Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or some other heavy drama where absolutely nothing happens other than talking. This is a well made film, I feel, but it just didn’t rise to the level of excellence its predecessors (and hopefully its successor) have managed to do. All that said, I still recommend this, but you might want to wait until part 2 is closer on the horizon to watch.

4 out of 5 stars

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2 Responses to “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, part I”

  1. […] packed finale. With the recent release of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, part I, we are reminded about how downright dull a film cane be while waiting for the big payoff finale […]

  2. Mystery Man Says:

    Reblogged this on Mr Movie Fiend's Movie Blog.

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