The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

I have to admit, I walked into the movie theater with really low expectations for Mockingjay Part 1. The third Hunger Games book probably is my least favorite of the series, and, without giving away spoilers for the movie or the book, I feel like the 3rd book is basically Katniss walking around District 13 and Panem just being plain crazy! So when I walked out of the theater almost three hours later I was blown away with how much I enjoyed it and impressed with how well they pulled off (in my opinion) the first half of the worst book of the three. More about this surprisingly enjoyable film after the break:

The Beautiful Katniss Everdeen
Just to recap the ending of the second film: we leave the 3rd Quarter Quell arena with Katniss, Finnick, and Beetee, and are whisked off to District 13 (which everybody thought had been destroyed many years ago). There Katniss finds out that Peeta has been kidnapped by the Capitol, that Gale made it out of District 12 after the bombing, and that rebellion is beginning to to take hold in some of the outer districts… 

At the beginning of Mockingjay Katniss is losing her grip on reality, rebellion is starting to fizz out, and District 13 is in need of "The Mockingjay." After seeing that Peeta is alive via a Capitol propaganda interview with Flickerman as well as finally walking through the destruction of District 12, Katniss relents to being the Mockingjay. But she has a few conditions, the Tributes that the Capitol has taken as hostages (Peeta, Annie, and Joanna) are pardoned of all "crimes" and Prim gets to keep her cat (one of the few characters that gives us comic relief from the seriousness of the plot line). Coin, the President of District 13, agrees and so the war begins.

Enough about the plot though, if you want to know what happens go see the movie! Let's talk about why I felt this movie pulled the first half of the book off! My biggest fear for the film was that it would be long and boring. Most of the book takes place in Katniss' head and I wasn't sure how they were going to make the small amount of action stretch so far, but I must say they did a good job. Only once did I think "man, this is slow…" So if you're worried about the film pacing taking long enough for you to catch some z's don't count on it. I was inthralled for most of the film, especially the second half after Katniss agrees to be the Mockingjay.

Effie, you are rocking that head scarf!
Some of the best additions to this movie were the interactions of the supportive characters: Heavensbee, Coin, Effie, Beetee, the Film Crew, and Boggs. Elizabeth Banks plays a stunning Effie Trinket even without her Capitol frills and bobbles. In fact, District 13 Effie is one of my favorite characters we've seen in the films (she's not a huge role in the 3rd  /book). Effie keeps her attitude and spunk even in the doldrums of the "Dungeon" (her affectionate name for District 13). 

In this film we get to see a wonderfully enthusiastic and clever side of Heavensbee, played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. We see how excited he gets over creating the "propos" (propaganda films), we see the fear he experiences when he gets thrown into a dangerous situation (something he has never experienced having lived all his life in the Capitol). I am truly sadden that Hoffman was taken from this world before he could finish this role. The last movie will be lacking without him.

Camera Crew Assemble!
Although I found the interactions with Katniss' film crew very lacking in amount of time, the little screen time we had of them was wonderful, specifically one scene where Pollux (the avox camera man) asks Katniss to sing. The interaction is fleeting but either because of actor Elden Henson's adorable face or their gentle on screen friendship chemistry, something about this scene just worked. I must also add that I love the fact that Pollux uses sign language to communicate with his brother. If you don't know asl (american sign language) and want to know what he signs the first time he meets Katniss, Pollux says "She is beautiful" and Castor replies with a simple "yes." I wish they would have used even more, maybe in Part 2. 

Heavensbee and Coin
The film's portrayal of President Coin was very interesting. My remembrances of of her in the book is cool, aloof, and distant. In the film we see several scenes where she appears warm and caring toward Katniss and this is just something that I don't remember being in the book. But perhaps the film makers are just trying to set something up… who knows?

I'm just not a Gale fan so I'm not even going to comment on him. Liam Hemsworth does a fine job portraying Gale like always. (GO TEAM PEETA!!!)

Another wonderful addition to this movie was the technology. In the previous movies we've seen small glimpses of the Capitol's technology but in this film we see tons of District 13's technology and it is awesome! From hover planes to interactive screens to weapons to video monitoring equipment the futuristic technology is all over the place in this film, but the best thing about the technology is that it looks so realistic and plausible I found myself wish multiple times "Man, I wish we had those!" or "I could TOTALY use that in my classroom!" (I'm a high school teacher, Go Vikings!) 

But my absolute FAVORITE part of the whole film was one of the ending scenes, and I can't truly describe it without giving away some major spoilers (duh, it's one of the last scenes of the film), but the cinematography is flawless! The focus jump between a military mission (which did a GREAT job of making me feel anxious for the solders as well as a part of the experience), a propaganda distraction, and a desperate conversation between Katniss and Snow. The pacing and flow is fast and effortless and the whole scene keeps you on the edge of your seat. I think it was probably the best 15 minutes of the whole film!

So should you go and spend that $10 on this part one? Well, I think so! I thoroughly enjoyed this film and I think you will too! So I'm going to rate this a Great and a Half!

May the odds ever be in your favor!


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