The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 1

Distributed by Lionsgate

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                I've never read the books, but I went to see Hunger Games based on its trailer and loved it so much that I decided to see the sequel, Catching Fire.  So, of course, I was going to see the final book adaptation in theaters.  I was surprised that they broke Mockingjay up into two parts, but nothing was going to stop me from checking out Part 1 in theaters when it opened.

                Mockingjay: Part 1 picks up where Catching Fire left off.  Our hero, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is recuperating from her injuries in an infirmary in the underground headquarters of District 13.  She has been reunited with her mother (Paula Malcomson), her sister Primrose (Willow Shields), her best friend/love interest Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and fellow Tribute fighters Finnik (Sam Clafin) and Beetee (Jeffery Wright).  Also present in the hidden District 13 base are Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), Effie (Elizabeth Banks) and Plutarch (Philip Seymour Hoffman).  Conspicuously missing are Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Johanna (Jena Malone) and Annie (Stef Dawson), the three Tributes that District 13 could not rescue.

                Katniss is dealing with the shock of discovering that District 13 was not destroyed long ago as publicized and the fact that she has lost Peeta, someone she has grown to care very much about.  Plutarch has convinced President of District 13 Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) that Katniss can be the catalyst that incites an uprising throughout the districts against the Capita.  The President isn't so sure, especially when Katniss herself balks at the idea.  It is only after she has seen what President Snow (Donald Sutherland) has done to District 12 in her absence that Katniss agrees.

                She agrees to do PR work for the rebellion, visiting war zones and speaking out against the atrocities of the Capital under the condition that the three Tributes left behind will be rescued from the Capital at the earliest convenience.  But, when Snow decides to televise Peeta speaking out against the rebellion, Katniss starts to second guess her decision.  Each time she sees Peeta on Capital television, he seems to look and sound different.  She believes he is being tortured, forced to speak out against Katniss' actions, as Snow seeks to find a way to strike out against Katniss.  The question is, should Katniss stop being the face of the rebellion to save Peeta or should she soldier on, working even harder to take down the monster that is President Snow and his regime?

                Several realizations are made by Katniss in Mockingjay: Part 1.  First, she realizes that, whether she likes it or not, people look to her to speak for their cause and direct them on the right path.  Second, she discovers that she is in love with two people - Gale and Peeta - and she isn't sure who she wants to be with more.  She only knows that she can't be without them.  Third, she has been played - by Plutarch, by President Snow, by so many people, she is not quite sure who to trust.

                Mockingjay: Part 1 lacks the amazing action of the first two movies.  The purpose of this film is to set us up for the crazy action yet to come, once the rebellion really gets into full swing.  No, this movie is less about action and more about the political machinations behind war and the powerful way in which PR is used by both sides of the war to sway people to either side.  Whether that PR is actually true or just a fabricated image and forced words matters not.  It only matters how many people believe in what's being shown and said.  That's not to say that there isn't any action in the film whatsoever.  One of the coolest scenes in the film features Katniss taking out two bombers with only one arrow.  There are also some really decent action scenes involving uprisings throughout the districts.

                Jennifer Lawrence is terrific as Katniss Everdeen.  You can really believe she is this character, feeling the terror of war, the pain of love lost and the anguish of possible pain inflicted on others due to her actions.  Liam Hemsworth gets a much bigger role in this film and proves he is more than up to the challenge.  Not only good to look at, Hemsworth is a credible dramatic actor.  And of course, what can I say about Donald Sutherland?  Simply evil personified!  Such a great actor!

                In summary, although Mockingjay: Part 1 isn't the same action packed film we are used to seeing in the Hunger Games franchise, but I enjoyed the film immensely for the drama and the intrigue.  I can't wait to see Mockingjay: Part 2!  I'm betting on that, the final movie in the series, to be the most action packed dramatic film yet!


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