The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – part 1

I took some time out of my busy schedule this weekend to go and see the latest installment in The Hunger Games movies: Mockingjay (part 1). Before you read this post, there’s a spoiler warning: I discuss scenes from the book and the movie, so if you want to be completely surprised, stop reading now! But if you’ve read the book and don’t mind a few spoilers, read on….

Firstly, I think that Jennifer Lawrence is the perfect Katniss Everdeen. Lawrence has become one of my favourite actresses, thanks to her powerful performances on screen. In The Hunger Games series, she portrays the many facets of Katniss’s character with great expressiveness: her devotion to her mother and sister, her courage and the way she becomes a reluctant heroine, warily playing along with the story of the star-crossed lovers to please Capitol audiences, before realizing that she is in love with Peeta for real.

One of the reasons why I like The Hunger Games is because of the strong female protagonist. Although Katniss values the friendship of Gale, she is fiercely independent and doesn’t need a male sidekick to help her out. Mockingjay: Part 1 does play on the Katniss/Gale/Peeta love triangle, but then so does the book. Katniss is less independent and less of her own person: she is being molded to be the poster-girl of the rebellion. There are a few moments of comic relief, notably when she is instructed to act for the propos: Jennifer Lawrence does an excellent job of acting as though she is a person who cannot act!

Mockingjay: the symbol of the rebellion

Mockingjay: the symbol of the rebellion

The majority of the movie takes place in District 13, with occasional forays to District 12 (Katniss returns to see the devastation wrought by the Capitol bombs), other districts and the Capitol. The claustrophobia of living underground in District 13 is vividly portrayed; as a viewer, I found myself searching for greenery and fresh air, the same way Katniss does. Unlike the first two movies, there are hardly any scenes outside in nature, apart from a peaceful scene where Katniss and Gale go hunting above ground and another scene when Katniss sings The Hanging Tree.

Mockingjay – Part 1 has attracted criticism for being low on action and high on talking and strategizing. Many people, including myself, feel that Mockingjay is the weakest book in the series. Even if it means being more faithful to the books, I do think it was unnecessary to break it into two movies. This has become a habit of major movie franchises habit: breaking the last book in a series into two movies, e.g., Harry Potter and The Hobbit, which has split one book into not one, not two, but three separate movies. It is such a blatant way of bringing in more money to the box office. That being said, I enjoyed the movie and it was suspenseful enough for me; I’m not a huge fan of action-packed movies. Part 1 ends shortly after the captured tributes, Peeta, Johanna and Annie, have been rescued from the Capitol. There’s a jolting moment when Peeta and Katniss are reunited that makes viewers jump, even though I knew what was coming. It made me jump when I read the scene in the book!

I’m light-headed with giddiness […] Peeta’s awake already, sitting on the other side of the bed,looking bewildered as a trio of doctors reassure him, flash lights in his eyes, check his pulse. I’m disappointed that mine was not the first face he saw when he woke, but he sees it now. His features register disbelief and something more intense that I can’t quite place. Desire? Desperation? Surely both, for he sweeps the doctors aside, leaps to his feet and moves towards me […] My lips are just forming his name when his fingers lock around my throat (Mockingjay, 2010, p. 206)

Despite a few criticisms, I’m looking forward to the finale of Mockingjay in November 2015. I read the last few pages of the book in feverish anticipation and the ending in the Capitol truly shocked me. You’d better take a packet of Kleenex to the movies next year!

Did you go to see Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (to give it its full title!) this weekend? What do you think of it?

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2 thoughts on “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – part 1

  1. I’m really glad you posted a review of the movie, Grace! I had read the books about two years ago and really enjoyed them (though I agree with you that Mockingjay was the weakest book and even in parts of Catching Fire, it was starting to get draggy for me). I’ve seen both the first and second movies and thought they were okay but it didn’t really make me anticipate the final movie, which is annoyingly split into two parts. I still don’t think I’d make an effort to go see Mockingjay: Part 1 in theaters but its good to know the general gist of how it goes. 🙂

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    • I’m a Hunger Games fan, not an obsessive fan-girl, but I didn’t want to wait until the DVD was released. And I love going to see movies on the big screen! It’s one of my favourite leisure things to do.

      I think the first couple of movies were better in terms of their storyline. It is annoying that Mockingjay has been split in two, but it’s not terrible. I actually liked the fact that it wasn’t full to the brim with action: it gives more opportunities for genuinely good acting, unlike the so-called ‘acting’ in some action-adventure films. The acting in these films is stellar, not only Jennifer Lawrence (I gush about her because I think she’s brilliant and I absolutely love her performance in Silver Linings Playbook!) but also Julianne Moore, who plays President Alma Coin in District 13, and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee.

      But I do agree with you about some parts being draggy; when I read the book, I was disappointed by the way Suzanne Collins ended it because it just felt like she gave up on the characters. After being immersed in that world for three books, I wanted it to end less abruptly. I was glad to have the epilogue though: without that, the ending would be truly depressing!

      Thanks for your comment. 🙂

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