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Review: ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I’ From the Editor

‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1’ is the darkest turn for the Suzanne Collins’ trilogy. The first half establishes the growing revolution looming in the dystopia. Like J.K. Rowling’s final Harry Potter saga, The Deathly Hallows was made into two separate films. Diehard fans who have read The Hunger Games’ books will find enough to enjoy in this latest installment.

With emotional depth and charisma, Jennifer Lawrence makes the film snap to attention. The fascinating aspect of the story is how our heroine Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) is being groomed as the leader of the revolution against President Snow (Donald Sutherland) through the symbol Mockingjay. Lawrence embodies the reluctant hero perfectly and gives Katniss a powerful balance of strength and vulnerability.

Many years ago, the districts revolted and were beaten down by the Capital. The price paid by the numbered districts was being forced to offer up children each year, a boy and a girl, who had to fight representatives from other areas. These children were called tributes and only one can be “crowned” the winner. Katniss Everdeen changed that when she managed to have Peeta, a lad from her district saved with her.

This sequel of The Hunger Games picks up where the second left off (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) and at this point in the story, District 12, the home of Peeta and Katniss has been bombed flat, Peeta is a prisoner of the Capital and District 13, thought to have been destroyed years ago, is providing the Mockingjay sanctuary. What the president of this underground district wants in return is for Katniss to be the “face of the revolution.”

Some may feel that there are not enough battle scenes but this is the calm before the storm. War is brewing but this film shows Katniss how evil and oppressive the Capitol has become. One of the most devastating scenes is when Katniss is taken to her own district to survey the damage. She visits a makeshift hospital for those wounded by airstrikes from the Capitol. Shot in blues , grays and browns, director Francis Lawrence (no relation to Jennifer), captures the brutality of war succinctly.

The story transitions from post-apocalyptic fantasy to war film. In order for all the districts to support the revolution, Katniss is being filmed by a ragtag crew led by Cressida (Natalie Dormer) tasked to capture her growing anger and resentment of the Capitol’s atrocities.

While the audience learn more about what is going on in Katniss’ mind, and what Gale is thinking, fans also learn what happened to Effie Trinket and Haymitch Abernathy along with the other tributes who survived the last games in Catching Fire. In District 13, the president is Alma Coin, who wants to lead a revolution against President Snow and the Capital. Plutarch Heavensbee spends a good amount of energy convincing President Coin that Katniss is the one who should be spearheading the war as the “Face” of the people.

This segment, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, is the build up to the last in the series, a sort of beginning of the end chapter of the Katniss and Peeta story. For fans of the original story this sequel fills the requirement of moving everything forward for the finale. For fans of the film version of the tale, it will be a little disappointing. Firstly, this is the first in the film series to not have scenes from the Tribute Games. The excitement of battle between Katniss and Peeta against other tributes does not figure into this one. It is all slow and somewhat annoying build-up, with flashbacks to earlier events and signposting what is coming next.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, may be the slowest segment of the whole franchise but it is a necessary step in the whole process of telling the story of Katniss Everdeen and the fate of Panem and all its inhabitants. The sequel does follow the path set out by the trilogy, readers of the Hunger Game books will recognize this film as retelling the most frustrating part of the story.

We have to wait a year to reap the finale of ‘Mockingjay’ but it will be worth it. This film watches Katniss grow into a leader. The next film is sure to please as the Capitol and the Districts clash in full-blown war. As Heavensbee reminds President Coin, “They’ll follow her. She’s the face of the rebellion.” She is the chosen one. President Snow warns, “It’s the things we love most that destroy us.”

For those that are following this saga, ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1’ is essential viewing. Some will feel underwhelmed that the book was split into two films. It achieves what it needs to do. It grooms Katniss into a heroic leader and builds excitement for the finale next year.

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