Mockingjay Part 1, the final installment of The Hunger Games series, opened this past weekend as the top selling movie in the box office. The adaptation of Suzanne Collin’s novel left something to be desired for both critics and fans alike. Critics on Rotten Tomatoes gave it a rating of 66% while the audience gave a rating of 79%. Not bad reviews, but not, I think, what everyone expected.
While the film definitely kept my attention, it was a bit slow moving in parts and too drawn out. This first part of Mockingjay did a nice job of laying the foundations for a revolution on the Capitol, but the lack of action could be disappointing for people new to the series.
Mockingjay Part 1 begins where Catching Fire ended. Katniss, Finnick, Beetee, Haymitch, and Plutarch Heavensbee have escaped to District 13. Katniss’s home District 12 has been destroyed by the Capitol, and other Districts have begun to rebel. President Snow continues to struggle controlling the Districts and the time is right for a national rebellion. Katniss Everdeen, the Mockingjay, becomes the face for the Revolution.
Jennifer Lawrence and Donald Sutherland play their respective good and evil parts well: Katniss as the protector of innocents, and President Snow the manipulator and destroyer of innocents. Katniss, having survived the Hunger Games twice, knows what it’s like to take a life and even now hesitates to hunt animals. Katniss is not interested in war; she becomes the face of the Revolution for the sake of saving others’ lives. Her concern is saving Peeta’s life and protecting her own family.
In contrast, President Snow, while he wears the color white and surrounds himself with roses, he is far from pure. He tries to paint himself and the Capitol as the protector of the innocent while publicly executing dozens. He bombs a hospital full of hundreds of unarmed and wounded citizens simply for being associated with the Mockingjay. In response, Katniss delivers a rousing speech threatening Snow and defending the dignity of the lives he stole and the lives he continues to oppress.
Viewers will find the rebel’s leader, President Coin, a new and intriguing character. Although she appears to mean well, there is something not quite trustworthy about her. District 13 is a martial state, so their daily schedule is extremely structured and militarized. While this system works well for organizing a rebellion and protecting citizens, one may wonder if Coin could be an effective leader under peaceful circumstances. It will be interesting to see her role progress when Part 2 is released.
Part 1 is a good follow up to Catching Fire and it builds the tension leading to the war that is surely coming. I recommend watching it if you are a fan of the series. It was not as well done as well as the first two movies, and it is difficult to review since it is only half a story! Some of the concepts and images are a bit more graphic than the first two movies, as well, so parents you have been warned. Happy movie going and happy Thanksgiving!