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The Hunger Games Mockingjay, Part 1 - A Review

Note to self: Never, ever again go to a midnight showing of Hunger Games, or any other tween movie. In the words of the great Roger Murtaugh, "I'm too old for this (well, you know)." It is never more evident how old I am, then when I am sitting in a packed theater with teenagers giggling and opening loud bags of chips. SO glad we were never like that as kids, right?
Mockingjay was never my favorite Hunger Games book, that was always reserved for the first book in the series. While Mockingjay is necessary to ending the story, it was hard to read at times, not because the writing was bad, but because the excitement of possible rebellion has passed and the reality of active rebellion sets in. Characters die, revelations are had. Katniss eventually has to succomb to the fate that is her life; either die a martyr fighting for her people or destroy the Capital and live a life of horrible memories that she will never be able to truly forget. It's bleak, but it's also important and necessary.
I am not going to recap this movie, I am writing to those who have read the novels and know what happens. This movie does end halfway through (because ironically, how much money is ever enough, really?) so the last half of the novel is one we will have to wait another year and pay another $9.75 to watch. What they did give us was the connection between the world that was and the world that is yet to come, an arc to help us understand what Katniss is going through and her inner struggle to fight the Capital but also save her beloved Peeta. Jennifer Lawrence, of course, did a wonderful job bringing such a beloved character to life. No longer a naive girl but a matured relunctant hero of the people, Katniss gives the people what they need, hope and motivation to fight for the cause, all the while knowing her requesting such a favor will likely cost many their lives.
This entire series is serious. Child on child killing for the sake of propaganda and control is no light matter. I do think that the movie versions have really shied away from the political side of the novels. They have given teenagers what they want to see: action. One complaint I have always made about the two previous movies is that they didn't touch on just how manipulative President Snow and the Capitol really were to the people living in the districts. They controlled these people by fear and hunger. They weren't just poor, they were destitute. We've seen bits and pieces of that, but in Mockingjay, it becomes truly evident just how much politics plays into the theme of Hunger Games. We get to see just how far President Snow is willing to go to maintain his lifestyle and power. We see just how far he is willing to go to keep his world exactly how it is, and we see just how much of a threat Katniss is to that cause. We see the blatant manipulation of the media to control the masses. We see people working behind the scenes to manipulate ways to get people to do what they want them to do. While we hate the Capital for doing it, we begin to see the rebels doing the same, and I am sure in the second part of Mockingjay, we will get to see how neither side is doing what they are doing for the good of the people, but for the good of themselves.
Watching Peeta slowly grow pale and thin was hard, and watching him attempt to kill Katniss was even harder. Watching Effie manipulate her jumpsuit to form some type of fashionable garb because she found herself to be a Prisoner of War was hilarious. Per the usual, Haymitch was comical relief, despite his imposed, now-sober disposition. And watching Gael be Gael was just, well, the cherry on the cake. It's going to be hard to watch their fates to come, especially knowing what those fates will be. On a lighter note, my sister and I kept leaning over to each other, asking ourselves when the dead would start to rise up, zombie-style. I think we have watched too much Walking Dead. I think at one point, my sister said (after they bombed the hospital) NO SANCTUARY HERE! Ain't that the truth. This movie did feel like a really long, slower episode of The Walking Dead, designed to tell a story rather than be action packed. A filler story, if you will. But those filler stories help you connect more with the characters, so I didn't mind it one bit.
All in all, I was really happy with this installment of the franchise. I am glad we were finally given a break from tons of CGI and shaky camera movements and were able to watch the story and characters unfold a bit more. It certainly wasn't action packed from start to finish, but this part of the novel wasn't either, so readers of the book should know what to expect. I am eagerly awaiting the final movie next year, and am eagerly waiting to watch it at 10 am on Friday morning, when all of those loud and annoying teenagers are in school.


Paul S said…
I'm seeing this tomorrow, so I'm glad to hear that it holds the interest, even without the benefit of a complete narrative.
Part 2 should be the real showstopper!

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