The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 [Review]
I have been a big fan of The Hunger Games trilogy from the moment I first picked up the opening novel. I was dubious when I heard that they were making film adaptations, as often I find myself less engaged with the films of things than I ever was with the novels. I was so pleased with the first two films. I thought the casting was perfect and that the story was largely true to the books. I was therefore very excited to see where the third film (Mockingjay) would take us, and I’m thrilled to say that I was not disappointed.
At first I was dubious at the idea of them turning the third book into two films. It felt very much like The Hunger Games was jumping on the success of Twilight, Harry Potter, and The Hobbit by making more films than was really necessary; like they’d seen how much money it was possible to make and wanted a slice of it. Having watched Mockingjay – Part 1, I think it was absolutely the right decision. Firstly, it meant that the film didn’t have to be too long, and secondly, the third story has a lot of action in it, and it meant that each event was given the screen time it deserved.
I have always thought that Jennifer Lawrence has been the perfect casting for Katniss Everdeen. She strikes a winning balance between being strong and emotionally vulnerable. She agrees to be the leading figure (or Mockingjay) of the rebellion, and has to film a series of short pieces of pro-rebel propaganda (or propos.) Katniss is an unlikely hero in the sense that she is not a public speaker, and this is demonstrated beautifully in the scene where she has to film her first propo. It takes a good actress to pretend to be a bad actress. This is probably why I love the character so much; she is not out for her public image or to be well-loved.
One thing that I loved about the book that could have been included in the film was the moment that Katniss stated her conditions that needed to be met in order for her to become the Mockingjay. In the film, they included that the previous tributes of the Hunger Games captured by the capitol (including Peeta), were to be rescued at the first possible opportunity, and given a full pardon. Also that Prim got to keep her cat. In the books Katniss also requests hunting rights for herself and Gale, and also to have to opportunity to kill President Snow personally, should the rebellion succeed. I think these would have been good to mention in the film, as they would have solidified Katniss’ relationship with Gale, and made a stronger connection with her hatred for President Snow.
Liam Hemsworth fans rejoice! We see a lot more of Gale in this film, largely because Peeta is not present in the flesh for the first half of the Mockingjay story. It would have been very easy for the script writers of the film to include Peeta a lot more to please the fans. I like the fact that they don’t. It makes seeing him so ill and violent towards the end of the film even more shocking. After being captured by the Capitol, Peeta is subjected to all sorts of torture and imprisonment, and Josh Hutcherson, although less present, is beautiful throughout.
President Cork (of District 13) is played by Julianne Moore, who has always been one of my favourite actresses. Although maybe not as much of a powerhouse as you would expect a leader of the rebellion to be, I quite like the subtleties of her performance, as it’s important to remember that Cork has to be trustworthy at this point in order for Katniss to remain the Mockingjay.
It is incredibly moving to see Phillip Seymour Hoffman in one of his last performances before his death. He is stunning in this film, and he brings out things in the character of Plutarch that I had not appreciated on simply reading the book. His Plutarch is charming, yet cunning and manipulative at times. He is a master of his work, which is essentially to make other people look the way he needs them to, and Hoffman commands the screen with such ease. I am partly glad that it has been made into two films, simply because it means that we will see him in the cinema again next year.
End of spoilers.
In short, I truly loved Mockingjay – Part 1. I thought it was an accurate and vivid adaptation of the book, and the cast is amazing. I do think the decision to split the story into two films was the right one, even though the cynic in me says that really it’s just a money spinner. Whatever the reason, it works for me.
What did you think of the film? Do you agree? Let us know in the comments below!