Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Next Review: Furious 7

After the huge success of two Hunger Games movies, it was announced that Mockingjay would be split in two parts. The film picks up after the events of Catching Fire, where the story continued with Katniss, our reluctant heroine from District 12 finally becomes the titular head of a growing rebellion against the Capitol through a series of propaganda videos. This time, the film is lesser on the action, explosions or heavy violence and chooses to focus on being a political drama that takes the themes of war and revolution to the next level instead.

The Hunger Games has always been a character-driven story filled with meaningful themes by exploring real-world issues about rebellion, politics, conflicts, war, survival that ultimately stands out among the other Young Adult franchises. Katniss' several acts of defiance against the fascist Capitol government during the Hunger Games in the first two films have finally fan the flames of rebellion among the districts of Panem to take back their nation. While the country is on the verge of war, Katniss must also try to find a way to rescue Peeta and the rest of the tributes, who have been taken hostages, tortured and imprisoned by the Capitol.

Throughout the years, the franchise has done a great job in showing us that Katniss is truly the Mockingjay - the symbol of hope and rebellion in Panem. The books are written in Katniss' point of view, but the movies have made the effort of showing us other events largely unseen by her to allow us to gain a better understanding of the events that are happening in the film, such as the political meetings or discussions of President Snow or the control room of the games in past films. Mockingjay Part 1 takes time to give us a closer look at the beginnings of war by showing us some details about the uprisings that are taking place in other districts. From the brutal public executions, aerial bombing of cities and threatening speeches by President Snow himself, people are suffering and dying. The film also shows how easily people can be manipulated by media, by showing us that the people of Panem (Capitol and all the other districts) are easily influenced by what they see and hear, especially on TV. However, the ways the Capitol uses media to control all of Panem, it also shows that the rebels can use the same strategy to fight back as well. Both sides is using propaganda as a form of psychological warfare.

The film essentially tries to tell the audience that there are no perfect governments or political systems. Political ideologies always fail in reality because of the greed of men who only seek wealth or power. In Mockingjay Part 1, we see how Katniss is being used by the rebel leaders to fight the war. There's even one particular scene where Peeta asks Katniss whether she truly knows the people she's working for, letting us in doubt whether the rebels of District 13 are fighting for the right cause or it's just another Capitol in the making. Once again, Jennifer Lawrence pulls another strong performance as Katniss as she's the one who gets the most character development in this film. With Peeta captured by the Capitol for the entire film, Liam Hemsworth gets more screen time this time for his character, Gale after being left out of the story in the first two films. The film also introduces new characters, especially District 13's rebel leader, President Coin who will soon becomes one of the antagonist that Katniss need to face in Part 2. Elizabeth Banks’ character, Effie serves as comic relief this time around, but her character also shows that not all people in the Capitol are vain and oppressive as we think they are.

However, Mockingjay Part 1 doesn’t feel like a complete movie and fails to reach the heights of its predecessors. It's the first half of the final book adapted to film, which doesn't really provide any conclusions, it doesn't feel like it has a self-contained plot as none of the character arcs are fully resolved. The film keeps on setting the necessary pieces for the final epic showdown between the districts and Capitol but there's nothing significant happening throughout the film as all the relevant plot twists, the actual fight is in part 2. The film spends most of its time to show us the beginnings of war but couldn't provide further details on why the rebels in District 13 have so many resources and doesn't look malnourished compared with people from other districts. In my opinion, it felt unnecessary to split the final chapter into two parts as many of the scenes actually hurts the pace of the movie. It could be a far better film with a run time of probably 3 hours or so. We are all excited for the story's conclusion and yet we were asked to be patient and wait for next year's Part 2 instead. As the credits roll, I find myself leaving the cinema asking, that's it?

Ratings for all the Hunger Games film released so far:
The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Next Review: Furious 7

1 comment:

  1. I like your statement: "The Hunger Games has always been a character-driven story filled with meaningful themes by exploring real-world issues." I think that is a big reason why it has such a large following. It is relevant to the real world we live in. I wrote a short essay on Mockingjay Part 1 called "When War is Justified." If you would like to read it, here is the link: https://christopherjohnlindsay.wordpress.com/2015/05/04/hunger-games-mockingjay-part1/