Reviews

'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1' Review: Katniss' Psyche Is on Fire

‘I have a message for President Snow: You can torture or bomb us, blast our districts to the ground. But do you see that? Fire is catching… And if we burn, you burn with us!’

Katniss Everdeen finds herself in District 13 after she literally shatters the games forever. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage.

It seems we were woken up with Katniss as the movie began as she woke from a nightmare, with her then being shown around the supposed ‘just a legend’ District 13. From the moment we see her, we can see this isn’t the Katniss we have come to know and love from the first two films. She is broken, she doesn’t know where she is, and has no idea what’s going on with her dude Peeta. Of course until he shows up alongside Caesar Flickerman on the Capitol channel. from there, everything Katniss does is for the sake of getting Peeta back alive and safe, as she was promised before the games of Catching Fire. 

With a blueprint like The Hunger Games books to build from, the narrative portion of these films are incredible. They have seemingly gotten better and better with each film, with this last one being the best and darkest of the bunch, which is the best part. With Part 1 being the first film not being focused around the games, it was going to be interesting to watch because it’s already different in that way. Quite frankly, it becomes a whole different set of movies now. It’s not about the games anymore, it’s about civilization survival and all out war.

Jennifer Lawrence in 'Mockingjay - Part 1'Now unfortunately, at least for me, it was pretty light on the action (all out war). The first two were building and became more, they were action movies and damn good ones at that. That’s a side effect of doing Part 1 and Part 2, the first becomes a transition movie to set up the final part, and that transition movie can lose some of its swagger. For me, Mockingly – Part 1 lost some of the swagger that it could have had from the build up of the previous two. But I’ll say this, I knew that going in and understood it. I knew going in that it wouldn’t live up to Catching Fire, but that it was going to set up something much, much bigger in Part 2. 

This is very much, as one Interstellar for Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Lawrence’s movie. She’s been the lead, the focus, the build, all of that throughout the series – but this was her movie, she had sole possession of it. And of course, J.Law succeeded with ease as the character once again, really being a very different Katniss. As I said in the beginning, this isn’t the Katniss we’ve come to know. She isn’t kicking ass and being the badass rebel – she’s an emotional wreck, really just trying to wrap her head around it all. And that’s where it went sour for me. I never thought I’d say this about Katniss or a Jennifer Lawrence role in general, but I got a bit tired of her as the movie went along, almost annoyed. I get that it’s nuts and she didn’t knowCast of 'Mockingjay - Part 1' what to do and was trying to do what she needed for Peeta, I get that. But it was just to overpowering for me. And since I haven’t read the books yet, I don’t know the full story of the last half of the book. But I have read enough and been told enough to know that apparently it’s needed for what comes next. And I can deal with it if that’s what it’s doing, but it still felt like to much at the time, and I’m going to be pretty upset if it doesn’t pay off.

As for the ensemble around Ms. Lawrence, their always good. Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, Sam Claflin, and Jeffrey Wright have all done great jobs of embracing their roles and becoming these characters, it makes these movie moments that much better. The addition of Julianne Moore as President Coin was a damn good choice. As a hard believer of Katniss at first, she eventually comes around to understand why Ms. Everdeen IS the Mockingjay. Philip Seymour Hoffman in his final role, just great. It was hard to see him on screen because I know I won’t see him again (except for CGI in Part 2), but the other part of me was seeing him in this role and being fascinated by his character.

Jennifer Lawrence in 'Mockingjay - Part 1'We can talk about who this is Katniss’ movie all we want, but the best moments came from Josh Hutcherson and his Peeta character, ESPECIALLY in the final moments of the movie (those who’ve seen it know what I’m talking about). He’s kind of been the innocent boy who’s been dragged alongside Katniss for the past two movies, but he stepped up in a big way in this one and became a whole different character. And that’s just a great nod to that blueprint the books lay out. I’m extremely excited to see where his character goes and ends up in the closing moments of The Hunger Games franchise (I’m pretty sure I know).

As much as I didn’t like moments and it didn’t work here or there for me, it doesn’t take away for how solid of a film it actually is. We go to the movies to be entertained, and entertainment doesn’t just mean action. When talking about The Hunger Games: Mockingly – Part 1, the entertainment comes from the beautiful narrative and very strong characters. With Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss leading the way and a blueprint laid down by Suzanne Collins, Mockingly – Part 1 is something that shouldn’t be missed, something that is a great lead into what we’ll be one explosive series finale.

Rating: 7/10

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