Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (Part 1)

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Ever since Katniss shot that arrow in the arena, the world of Panem and the districts was changed. No longer will people tolerate the mass injustice of the government, nor will they accept the rule of a man who is a heartless and ruthless deceiver. A rebellion has sparked, and it needs fuel to bring it to full blaze.

The Mockingjay, is that fuel. Who better to be the Mockingjay than our very own Katniss? While the ideal object for propaganda amongst the rebellion and against the capitol, Miss Everdeen herself is not as open to the idea. She hates the leaders of the rebellion for not keeping their promise made to her before the quarter quell, and before she agrees to anything, she has some terms of her own.

Agreements are made, propaganda is released, and people all over the districts begin to rally to the cause of liberation. The games are over.

War, has begun.

Things I liked

This film is full of people seeming to grow up in the face of absolute necessity. Katniss remains petty about Peeta due to her obsession (dare I call it Love?) with protecting him, but when push comes to shove, will do anything to save those she deems worth protecting. This is especially true of her friends, family, and civilians caught up in this rebellion. Her loyalty and faith in Peeta is undying, though everyone else has said he is lost. Katniss is not a hero in any way. She is a person caught in a war she doesn’t want, and just wants to get out of it alive and well with those she loves.

Other characters come to the plate and hit home runs of their own. Prime learns about her vanity and selfishness, then strives to overcome it. Gale surprises all by putting his life on the line for people whom he doesn’t even like. Finnick painfully reveals truths to the world about what the capitol did to him that are humiliating, ditching the arrogant persona about him. Even Peeta, residing in the capitol, makes an effort to protect the rebels.

The theme of hope continues in this film moving from Katniss, to the rebels. The hope and believe in something more. To be free from unjust and merciless rule. This hope turns common folk into self-sacrificing soldiers who stop at nothing, even death at gunpoint, to further the ideal of freedom they all seek.

The power of propaganda shines through Katniss and the films the rebels shoot for public broadcast. We are shown the way media has the strength to shape the opinions and minds of the people viewing these messages. A warning to some and opportunity to others is most applicable in the current society in which we live today.

There is no profanity or crude language in the movie at all. Even a war movie too. Props to the script writers for keeping it clean, yet keeping the dialogue powerful without such unnecessary coarse language.

Things I didn’t like

With Civil war, comes death, destruction, and pain. We see all of this shown in a personal way through the eyes of people, rather than a documentary type feel. Men and women are gunned down by the Peacekeepers many times. Bombers level buildings with people inside. The rebels eventually retaliate with bombs and explosions of their own crude making. Perhaps the most gut wrenching scene is when we are shown a roadway bombed to bits, with hundreds of charred bodies in various forms of death, all who were clearly fleeing the city which was destroyed. Blood is kept to a minium.

Gale and Katniss kiss, again. Finnick kisses Annie as well. It is implied that Finnick’s body was “sold” to ladies in the capitol to do with as they please. This greatly affected Finnick and we see that come to light when he begins to tell his story.

Closing Thoughts

Remember Katniss, the things you love most, will destroy you. Remember it was I who told you that.
~President Snow~ 

Mockingjay (Part 1) begins the final chapter of the hunger games saga. With one last film left to go, the end of this deadly drama is near. We started in an arena where kids are made to kill each other by the government. In this vile place we learned that this government is indeed worth rebelling against, and that point has been further emphasized as the plot has progressed. In the Second film, we are show through Katniss’ actions that Panem is not only vile, but corrupt in not even keeping its own law. Here at the end, we learn a final thing about this government which is being rebelled against. That it is is not only unjust, but also merciless.

With this true Panem revealed, we watch Katniss begin to work with the rebels as a propagandist symbol. That is, only after her immature and selfish terms are met. This symbol, the Mockingjay, inspires people throughout all the districts to no longer stand for the injustice and cruelty they have endured. They rise up, and Panem begins to try to quell the rebellion the only way they know how- brute force.

This reveals some ponderous themes in a film which I was told, “only gets worse as you go on“. Over and over Hope and sacrifice is shown to be one of the strongest of virtues. Katniss disregards her orders to “stay safe” and risks her life without thinking to try and save civilians. We see common workers, motivated by something more that just survival, act in ways that sacrifices themselves, but strikes at the heart of the capitol.

If you follow this series because you like Katniss, I’ll admit, you are going to be disappointed in her. She acts immature 90% of the time and things only of herself and Peeta. Widen your gaze though, and start to look at the uprising occurring against murder, corruption, injustice, and the lot. You’ll begin to see a new light breaking in between the cracks of the districts into something truly great.

President Snow told Katniss the thing you love most is what will ultimately destroy you. This is perhaps the most poignant quote of the movie. It is also, quite true for anyone. Anywhere. What we love is what we will suffer for. What we will sacrifice for. What we will die for. Misplace that love, and you misplace your life. Ultimately we see in this film people living according to their loves. Whether it is an ideal, a person, or power. What will be interesting in the last, is to see what Love the author has chosen as right to pursue, and how that is adapted into film.

Mockingjay Part 1 continues the positive slope of these films, and whether it continues or not in the last, demonstrates beautifully the terror of civil war, the power of hope, and the destruction (good or bad) love brings to one’s life. I eagerly await the finale, hopeful myself, it does not destroy itself.

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