Going to the theater to watch The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 last night was a mistake on my behalf. If Tumblr were ever a physical, tangible location, that room would have been it. Squeeing and fangirling aplenty, it grew increasingly difficult to simply enjoy the film – due more to annoyance than anything. But the movie certainly was enjoyable. Not as great as the previous two films perhaps, but a solid installment in a series strong enough to warrant such squeeing and fangirling (just not at my expense please).
Civil unrest swept across the 12 Districts after the events in Catching Fire. The symbol of the Mockingjay, one of hope for many, is now banned by President Snow and enforced by the Peacekeepers of the Capitol. To show any sympathy for the “radical” movement of Katniss Everdeen, or make mention of the Mockingjay symbol, would be treated as a treasonous act of defiance, punishable by death. Snow keeps his word on this.
Meanwhile, Katniss and friends (some of them anyway), have been taken under the wing of the underground District 13, long thought to be buried under rubble after the first rebellion. They have a plan to set things aright by staging another rebellion against the Capitol, one they plan to win. Turns out District 13’s been here all along. Just making weapons, because that’s their job as a District. Let me get this straight. (Although never remotely explained in this film) the Capitol bombed away the visible remains of 13 and signed a peace treaty so that this doesn’t end in nuclear warfare, and have since been feeding the rest of the Districts propaganda about its complete annihilation. Woah woah woah. Why would the Capitol ever trust the people who’s jobs it was to make all the weapons to just… go away?! Why didn’t they leave spies in 13’s midst? What the heck do you think they’ve been doing all these years if not brooding for a rematch? Sadly, the logical fallacies inherent in the story don’t start or end there, but as for someone who could go no farther than reading the first book, it’s hard for me not to overlook them here. Dystopian futures are standard SciFi fare these days, but if given too much thought this delicate world of Panem can be pulled apart by any number of loose strings.
Katniss Everdeen, I’ve always felt, is one of the worst main protagonists in a series of books ever. She brings little but angst, rash decisions, and poor judgement to the table, under the veneer of a pretty visage and a courageous spirit. Which is why I appreciated the fact that she was used only as such in the film. District 13’s president wanted her only as a symbol, one of change and Revolution, as apposed to just hope. She would be the streamlined face of the rebellion. I really liked the idea of them filming her reactions to things for the people of the Capitol. I would have preferred to see more of their reactions to things though, aside from just the gradual worsening emaciation of Peeta.
When it came to Peeta’s situation I couldn’t help but get upset. It’s so clear he’s just Snow’s puppet to be broadcast. But literally everyone in 13 rallies against him, calling him a traitor, etc. etc. When it’s mentioned that Peeta and the others would have full pardons, the entire District boos down the idea. But later when they successfully capture them, everyone cheers. Whether that’s because they saved innocent lives or just the fact that they pulled something on the Capitol, is never said. Regardless, the sheer face-value stupidity of the District was appalling writing. Don’t even get me started on Primrose.
But again, as easy as it is to fault a book for its problems, you can’t always fault a movie adaption for sticking so closely to it (or so I’ve been told it was). The story, in comparison to the overwhelmingly constant adrenaline rush of the first two, is tame to the point of it being calm. And I think director Francis Lawrence used this to his advantage. It’s nice for a change to just revel in the beauty of the sets and settings. We actually get to experience some beautiful character moments without it ever feeling rushed. And this is due heavily towards the fact that the movie has been split in two. We get wonderful performances all around, especially when it comes to the chilling performance of Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch.
The film ends with a cliffhanger, one you may not see coming if you’ve not read the book. I call it the “get that boy a sammich scene.” Seriously though, could he really have done all that in his state? Really? I’m skeptical. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is well on its way towards becoming one of the year’s most successful films. It grabbed some $55M in the box office yesterday, the highest opening day figures of 2014, and is well on course towards an estimated $128M opening weekend.