ONE FAN’S OPINIONS AND REFLECTIONS OF THE PENULTIMATE INSTALLMENT OF SUZANNE COLLINS’ EPIC TRILOGY
Like the previous film, “Catching Fire”, I had been looking forward to this newest “Hunger Games” movie for a long time – a year to be precise, like everyone else who has been enamored with author Suzanne Collins’ tale of a futuristic dystopian world.
Being a fan of Jennifer Lawrence, who as Katniss Everdeen is the main antagonist who was involved as a tribute in the first two “Hunger Games” installments and serves as the face of the rebellion to overthrow the totalitarian Panem government in this latest go-around, doesn’t hurt either as (personal confession here) she is my current celebrity crush.
However, Jennifer is far from being the only reason that the “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1” and its predecessors has held such an appeal to me.
As I watched the movie, directed by Francis Lawrence (no relation to Jennifer) and written by Peter Craig and Danny Strong, one word came to mind that described the whole thing:
How could it have been any other way when the plot involves a rebellion to defeat the Hitler-like Capitol President Snow (played by Donald Sutherland) and create a new Panem whose districts are free of working as slaves and sending their children to participate in a contest where only one out of 24 contestants can come out alive?
This intensity especially comes out in the sometimes extreme post traumatic stress disorder that Katniss suffers from, as in the very first scene in the movie she is curled up in a little ball in a corner trying desperately to hold it together in the face of the horrors she has experienced in her two Hunger Games.
She is likewise understandably horrified when she returns to her District 12 to find it reduced to rubble from a Capitol attack with an overwhelming number of dead bodies left behind, which for sure will serve as another source of her PTSD.
And which is perhaps what I liked about this film the most as it brilliantly showed what more or less every war veteran from the current Afghanistan conflict to Vietnam and every war ever fought before that goes though.
It’s this PTSD that renders Katniss reluctant at first to become the “Mockingjay”, the symbol that Plutarch Heavensbee, the ex-head Hunger Games Gamemaker played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman in his final role, wants her to portray.
But when she, along with her old friend Gale (Liam Helmsworth) and a camera crew, visit a hospital in District 8 – which right after she leaves is attacked and destroyed by Capitol bombs on Snow’s orders, and subsequently fights back by shooting a few bombers down with her bow – she realizes that she is sorely needed if Panem is to be free of Snow and the Capitol’s iron grip, shouting to the cameras that were filming the whole thing in giving a message to Snow:
“If we burn, you burn with us!”
The hospital patients and refugees of District 8 showing solidarity to Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence)
The new character that got the most attention from me was the head military lieutenant to the president of District 13 – an underground stronghold and headquarters of the rebellion where Katniss, her family, and the other District 12 survivors end up after their home was wiped out – Alma Coin (Julianne Moore): Boggs, played by Mahershala Ali.
Ali did a great job serving as a sort of protector and source of calm to Katniss, which was previously Cinna the stylist’s role but as Cinna (who was played by Lenny Kravitz) was killed in “Catching Fire”, Boggs filled that task quite well.
My favorite scene?
When Katniss, Gale, and the camera crew led by Cressida (played by Game of Thrones’ Natalie Dormer) goes to District 12 to film some remembrances of what that place was like and Gale described the attack that took out their district and killed 90% of their population.
During a lunch break, one of the cameramen, an Avox – someone whose tongue was cut out by the Capitol – named Pollux (Elden Henson), asked Katniss by sign language if she would sing something as there were Mockingjays about and he wanted to see them mimicking her voice.
Katniss then proceeded to sing a haunting tune called “The Hanging Tree”, which to me sounded quite Appalachian in that District 12 was supposed to be where the rural mountains of West Virginia and Kentucky once stood.
Not only did that song convey a sense of home, it also became the anthem of the rebellion as we later see a big group singing it as they were attacking a dam.
But enough plot! I refuse to provide any more spoilers!
The acting was top-notch all around as always, but to answer the critics and public who are cooler to this movie than the original “Hunger Games” and “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” because they felt it was unfinished and other reasons…
Yes it seems a bit unfinished, but so what?
That was its intent as like the “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” series beforehand, the producers sought to divide “Mockingjay”, the third and last book in the series, into two films partly to make more money at the box office – that should be no secret – and partly because it was felt, I’m sure, that there was too much story to fit into one movie.
The Bottom Line For Me:
Like the previous two movies about this dystopian society and how one girl inadvertently becomes a leader and the symbol to overthrow it, I thoroughly enjoyed “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1” and felt it equaled, if not surpassed, the other two films.
It did its job in that even though I know what happens due to my having read the book, I absolutely cannot wait for the conclusion of this saga, “Mockingjay, Part 2”, to appear in November 2015.
In fact, I liked “Mockingjay, Part 1” so much, like I did with “Catching Fire” I plan on seeing what’s undoubtedly going to be the box office champion of 2014 again in the theatre.
I suppose I’m being a bit obvious in my views when I state that I urge everyone to see it.
In the meantime, I thought I would post this YouTube video of “The Hanging Tree”, in order to show how good the song is: