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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Movie Review: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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With the victory of the Hunger Games a year behind them, Katniss and Peeta continue to live a double life for the state. For the camera, they are a lovestruck couple, smiling and grateful to the state for the gifts they have been given. When the lights go down however, they are torn and tired of the play acting.

Then, when president Snow visits Katniss and tells her that she has become a beacon of hope to the rebellion, he threatens the death of her entire district. She has to convince him that the love between her and Peeta is real. Or else suffer the consequences. But the dual victory set in motion events which cannot be stopped by mere acting. Rebellions and outbreaks are becoming more and more common. To distract from this, the President declares for the 75th hunger games, all living victors of games past much be selected as part of the reaping.

So again, Katniss finds herself in the arena. Not with inexperienced kids, but adult trained killers. Allies are the key to her physical survival, but her death means success to the state. The game isn’t just inside the arena now, it is in real life. A political, manipulative, and deceptive game which will result in one victor. Moves and countermoves, are the key to one ideologies’ success.

Things I Liked

Katniss has grown a lot since the last games. She still lives in fear, but no longer lets that consume here. Rather, we see her decide to make a stand. This is first evidenced when see gives a speech in honor of her lost friend- Rue. She is consumed by the heartbreaking loss she experienced in the death of her friend, and she defies the state in a compelling way. This results however, in civilians showing rebellion, and many being punished for that.

If anything, Katniss does not want to hurt anyone deemed “innocent” in her eyes. This was shown in the first film in part, which caused immense moral ambiguity which I had problems with. Now, we are shown that if one is for the state, and actively pursues punishment of acts of rebellion, then Katniss has no desire to protect them. We see her transform from a girl trying to survive into a cunning solider of the rebellion.

Peeta remains the compassionate and caring person we found him to be in the first film. He is there to comfort Katniss in times of nightmares, and to be “just a friend” to get through the difficult times. When a tribute is dying a painful death, he directs their gaze to the sunrise, and provides them a peaceful passing while viewing the beauty of the new morning.

Haymitch, Cinna, and Effie all subtly rebel against the state in ways to promote the expansion of the rebellion. In fact, almost all the protagonists do so, knowing that it could cost them their lives. Katniss’ family tells her she can’t live in fear of losing them- because the rebellion is “Bigger than any one person”. Gale stands up against peacekeepers raiding district 12. Cinna designs a dress which embraces the symbol of hope all have come to believe in. We see over and over people placing the good of the people over their own personal interests. Even in the games, some tributes sacrifice themselves so Katniss may live.

Which brings me to the antagonist side. The state. It is shown that the government, controlled by the president, is in no way concerned or worried about the interest of the citizens. Rather, it delights in reigning through fear and oppression. It lives in gluttony as well, living like the greeks and drinking elixirs which makes them throw up so they can eat more. Perhaps most despicable though is the forcing of the citizens each year to murder each other in the games many delight in. It has no law, save for what the president decrees. The reign of terror reminded me of the way jews were treated in the holocaust. People have no rights, no protection, and no due process. They have no freedom, and are commanded to sin against each other. That is a just reason to rebel.

Things I Didn’t Like

Katniss kisses Gail and Peeta many times. The love triangle continues… *groan*  A female veteran Tribute provocatively undresses in front of Peeta, Katniss, and Haymitch due to mental instability. We see only her face and back, and the reactions from Peeta (awkward discomfort) and Haymitch (enjoys it).

The violence in Catching Fire is scaled down immensely compared to the first film, but that doesn’t mean it is without blood on its hands. The most disturbing images are brought in as rebellion begins. A man is shot in the head for a simple gesture. Masses are burned and gunned down for whistling the cry of a mocking jay. Several men who stand against the peacekeepers are brutally beaten with lashes or punched to death.

In the Victor’s Game in the arena. The initial start up results in us seeing a few tributes shot by arrow and killed via axe. After this, a preference is given to hearing a cannon go off, rather than watching each of the 24 tributes die. The ones we do see die, are killed by the environment, rather than the other tributes. Once is gored by a rabid monkey, another is consumed by a poisonous mist.

There is a twice bleeped out F- word on a TV show when a person speaks out against the state. Once used are the S-, D, and B- words. God’s name is used in vain about six times.

Closing Thoughts

You don’t win the games, you merely survive. There are no winners.
~Haymitch~

The second film in the “Hunger Games” series, I went into this movie quite skeptical to be honest. In fact, I was not going to see this one, but because of the overwhelming requests to review it, I decided to do so. I will say, I was in some ways pleasantly surprised, yet in others saw what I expected.

We find all the established characters grow into developed roles and figures. Katniss, the symbol of hope, Peeta, the symbol of compassion, and many others. These people finally determine the state is in no way to be supported, then commit wholeheartedly to that position. The result is powerful examples of courage, sacrifice, and strength. The leadership by example passes to other tributes, and to the common people as well.

In the course of these events however, much loss is to be heard of and seen. These are tragic to witness and listen to. We see peacekeepers take out any unarmed citizen who displays a glimmer of rebellion. This was violence I was not prepared for, and it hurt deeply to watch the brutality shown against a defenseless folk.

Perhaps the strongest theme shown, is hope. We see how powerful the gift of hope can be. It was touched on in the first film, and the thread continues to be woven in this one. We are told hope is greater than fear and finally begin to see the positive effects of that hope, and less focus on the results of living fear.

So while The Hunger Games is still a disgusting film full of child murders and selfish violence all around… Catching Fire provides the purpose (and attempts to justify it) to the first movie. It shifts focus from brutal murders, to the cause of these murders- which is from the state. We are shown a brave small group of people who decide to rebel against these scheduled killings and immorality.

It is not without faults, but what started out as a complete dismissal of the benefit of The Hunger Games Series, there is building a glimmer of hope, that maybe, just maybe, there is something worth value of discussion with others after all.