The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
Director: Francis Lawrence
Writer: Peter Craig, Danny Strong
Based on: Suzanne Collins’ novel (the first half at least)
Sequel to: The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Stanley Tucci, Sam Claflin, Jena Malone, Willow Shields, Paula Malcomson, Mahershala Ali, Jeffrey Wright, Natalie Dormer
Plot: [WITH SPOILERS FOR THE PREVIOUS BOOKS]
After the dramatic ending of the last Hunger Games, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) wakes up in the rebels’ headquarters in District 13. She discovers that Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) did not make it there – he was captured by President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and the Capitol. But with Katniss are Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and her family (Willow Shields, Paula Malcomson) – who made it out of District 12 right before it was completely obliterated – and a few other Hunger Game victors. While Katniss tries to make sense of the new world order around her, the rebels try to convince her that she should become the Mockingjay: the official symbol of the rebellion.
Mockingjay Part 1 was a very satisfying film, but it did leave me worried for Part 2, since there is not much left of the story that still worked for me in the book. But we’re not there yet, and this film, despite the occasional lengths, does very well.
The film does feel a little disjointed. Even the plot strand that would be best suited to provide a coherent narrative to the film – Peeta’s rescue – is too often interrupted by other things that don’t tie into it. If you’re being very generous you could say that the film reflects Katniss’ own inability of making plans, instead she – and with her the audience – is thrown from plot point to plot point without getting a chance to see how things fit into a grander scheme. But I do feel like that I might be giving the filmmakers a little too much credit with that interpretation. Instead I think that it is mostly due to the separation of one book into two movies that an overarching plot is missing.
Be that as it may, it didn’t mean that I couldn’t enjoy the film, because I did. It just meant that the pacing didn’t work out so well, since it felt like somebody telling a story by starting every second sentence with “and then”.
But the strength of Katniss as a character and the strength of the performances of the entire cast works even with a weaker plot. Jennifer Lawrence really gives it her all, but als the rest of the cast is wonderful and almost feel like family. [Though I have to admit that Julianne Moore’s contacts were a little distracting.] But despite taht feeling of familiariry. I have to admit that Peeta’s return didn’t rip into me as much as in the book – but the worst is yet to come anyway.
When the film was over I was at once pretty satisfied with what I had just seen but I als was wondering whether the second film would ever be able to bring this to a good end since all that remained are the parts of the book I hated. But we’ll see. I’ll definitely watch it.