On today’s Rough Cut, I’ll be talking about The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1.
How does it fare when compared to the older ones, and what did I think of it?
Before I jump into the actual review I need to give you a bit of background into my history with the Hunger Games movie franchise.
The first Hunger Games didn’t manage to surprise me in any really positive way. I couldn’t get into the characters, the shaky-cam was over-used as a motherfucker and from a story stand-point, the level of technological discrepancy between the Capitol and the other Districts was much too high.
And I still think that three movies in, the technology is of such a level that it would make war, hunger and disease pretty much irrelevant because apparently they don’t really have problems with resources – since there are so fewer people living now – and of course there’s the matter of creating matter out of thin air.
What I did like was the setting though, and the idea of a post-post apocalypse level war America.
As far as the idea of making people kill each other in an extensive land arena, I still think Batoru Rowaiaru and The Running Man did it better, much better; the first one was superior from the violence and sheer headfuckery aspect, and the latter one better from the watch-people-kill-each-other-for-entertainment angle, also, Arnold’s in it, so it gets extra points from me.
Now onto the second Hunger Games movie, which I’ve seen relatively recently. It was better than the first but again, I wasn’t really sold on neither the franchise, nor the characters or plot.
Quick Hunger Games reviews aside, let’s look at the third movie in the franchise and the penultimate one overall: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1.
The main pillars of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1
This one starts differently than the others and keeps us just a bit in suspense before it fills in the gaps of information about what happened in the time between Katniss being airlifted to safety from the arena in the second movie and the present time.
There are two very strong points that the movie has going for it: the first is that the focus now isn’t on the games anymore, it’s much more on the idea of revolution and the politics behind it, the second one is Jennifer Lawrence’s acting.
As a side-note, the supporting characters are also very well portrayed and help to hold up the film on some solid acting shoulders.
So let’s take them one by one and start with the plot.
It’s incredible how much more interested this movie has made me about the Hunger Games universe by adding some political intrigue. Maybe it’s because Game of Thrones has spoiled me, or maybe it’s because this makes it much easier to identify with, it makes it more real, more plausible.
There’s open talk about making propaganda, about needing a face to represent the Revolution and a lightning rod to focus the people.
Then there’s also the initial reluctance of the protagonist and the manipulation inherent to propaganda, in setting and editing events. Basically, I went into it expecting to watch Hunger Games Mockingjay as nothing more than a rehash of the first and second, but what I got was something considerably different. And that’s all for the better.
Now onto our main protagonist, Jennifer Lawrence proves – to me at least – that she has what it takes to become this generation’s great actress. She can emote very well and when she has what to work with, goddamn she makes you believe it.
You can see it in her eyes and her face that her character has been traumatized by what she’s been through and now she has to dig deep and find the motivation and fortitude to not only continue living, but to actually lead a revolution.
Also her singing The Hanging Tree is bloody awesome, goosebump-inducing guaranteed.
The supporting cast is great, lead by the very missed Phillip Seymour Hofman, the characters surrounding Katniss all seem very genuine, driven by their own interests and having different perspectives.
Another good thing that the movie does is to show the very literal sacrifices that the other Districts are making, spurred on by Katniss. Scenes of mass death make the threat real, to both us, the viewers, as well as Katniss.
The technical side of things
Moving onto the more movie-making part, Mockingjay, Part 1 is definitely much better shot than the first one, considerable less shaky-cam, which thank fuck, cause goddamn I hate that shit, and besides a couple of tiny editing issues here and there, the film looks pretty good.
I mentioned at the start of the article that the first two movies didn’t sell me on the Hunger Games in general, well… I can’t say the same about The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, this one gets my seal of approval and you can bet I’ll be in line when The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 comes out.
But I’m curious to know what you gals and guys thought of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1. Let me know in the comments below! The movie is available for streaming or purchase on Amazon, among other mediums.