Prior to the film’s release, I was hesitant about going to see it because Mockingjay wasn’t being as well received as it’s predecessors, The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. My hesitation would quickly be proven invalid and was set off on a thrilling ride that kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time.
The film opens with and emotional scene depicting Jennifer Lawrence’s character, Katniss Everdeen curled up and talking to herself. This scene really shows the PTSD that Katniss is plagued with throughout the book and I really like that they kicked it off by showing that these games leave more than physical wounds. Her interactions with Finnick Odair, played by Sam Claflin reinforce this throughout the movie by showing the once confident character as being a shadow of himself and tying knots constantly to keep his mind off of his experiences.
We are soon introduced to the President of District 13, Alma Coin who is played by Julianne Moore and she is perfect for the role. I wanted her to be cast from the very beginning and she did not disappoint. She really pulled off the whole ‘she looks and sounds nice but she is actually crazy’ thing really well. Her character’s interaction with Katniss just leaves you feeling tense after ever scene (in a good way).
Katniss is soon granted the right to visit the now destroyed District 12 and it is jaw dropping to say the least. This is where Mockingjay begins its pull away from the Twilight/Divergent realm and moves into the Harry Potter realm. You first see complete destruction with the Justice Building reduced to rubble and warehouses that have been destroyed. Then Katniss walks over a hill and what’s on the other side is an image that you won’t soon get out of you head. Thousands of charred bodies with agonizing looks permanently etched onto their faces.
All of the scenes involving Katniss, Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and her filming crew are just amazing. First off, Natalie Dormer who plays Cressida is just perfect! I have a feeling the she could have played that character in the worst possible way and it would still be great! The scenes in District 8 are really powerful, especially in the hospital and after is is destroyed. Everyone was waiting for the moment when Katniss said “fire is catching and if we burn, you burn with us,” and Lawrence pulled it off perfectly. Also the Mockingjay costume didn’t disappoint either. In an industry were women are constantly sexualized and their costumes are made tight and revealing, it was refreshing to she a costume for a woman that wasn’t like that. It was very faithful to the book and looked like something you could actually wear into a war zone and have it protect you. Kudos to you costume designer!!
Also, the scenes back in District 13 with the filming crew were pretty good and we were able to hear Jennifer Lawrence sing a song called ‘The Hanging Tree’. Once the song was released on iTunes, it shot up the charts and currently sits at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Several things that they added into the movie that weren’t in the book were Effie Trinket and being able to see the rescue of the victors. Effie who is played by Elizabeth Banks was nothing short of fantastic. Effie didn’t stand out to me in the books but Banks has made the character beloved by everyone and really showed that even though a part may be small a good actress can portray minor character development perfectly. The rescue to the victors was also cool to see and it reminded me a lot of the Call of Duty games for some reason.
The best part about this movie though is the performance given by Josh Hutcherson. His portrayal of Peeta Mellark is heartbreaking and if you’ve read the books, you knew it would be. Seeing his interviews with Ceasar Flickerman, played by Stanley Tucci, and seeing Peeta deteriorate like that made me want to die. Then they rescued Peeta and it really hits the fan. The revelation that he sees Katniss as a threat and tries to kill her has destroyed my soul one-two-many times and Josh Hutcherson’s performance finally killed me and drove all the nails in the coffin. Hutcherson is actually getting some major Oscar buzz and I think it is well deserved but unfortunately, YA films are often snubbed by the Academy. I feel like Jennifer Lawrence gets so much of the attention for her portrayal of Katniss but people should be paying more attention to Josh Hutcherson because he really is the perfect Peeta.
I have seen the movie twice so far, and can’t wait for it to come out so I can burn out the disc within the first month! I give Mockingjay Part 1 4.5 out of 5 reels.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 was released on Nov. 21, 2015 and features Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Sam Claflin and Natalie Dormer. The film was directed by Francis Lawrence.