“Mockingjay: Part 1” – My Thoughts

After my great disappointment with the first film, and the amazing comeback that was Catching Fire, I awaited Mockingjay: Part 1 with great anticipation. I knew that this film would be intense and a great deal darker than the previous two, but I figured I was prepared. But I don’t think anything could have prepared me for just how intense and crazy the movie would be. (SPOILERS ARE CONTAINED IN FOLLOWING REVIEW)

And as a side note: I was unsure of how I felt about them splitting Mockingjay into two films. At first it seems like a way for them to make more money. But after seeing the film, I am REALLY glad that they split it. The amount of emotional depth and character development captured in this film never could have happened if they had tried to cram it into one final film.

For starters, the characters. Katniss is just incredible, and I REALLY hope Jennifer Lawrence wins some kind of award for her performance. And don’t even get me started on the “Hanging Tree” scene. Who knew she could sing too? I wanted to weep for her so many times throughout the film, seeing her pain and grief mingled with her strong spirit and desire to do the right thing. And Peeta about broke me. While his appearances in this film were mostly brief all things considered, Josh Hutcherson made me love this poor guy even more than I already did. And the scene after Peeta got to District 13? It physically hurt me to watch it because it had been brought to life so well. One surprise in terms of characters I ended up liking was Gale. For the first two films, I generally disliked him and felt he was rather one-dimensional. But in this film, I actually liked him a bit more (though I am and will always be team Peeta). He obviously cares a lot about Katniss, even though he understands that she doesn’t truly love him. And Finnick was once again masterfully portrayed by Sam Claflin, as a broken man who just wants to be back with the woman he loves. The scene where he reunites with Annie made me cry happy tears, and sad tears too (for reasons undisclosed). Haymitch and Effie were once again the loyal supporters, and I loved seeing how Katniss and Haymitch have grown closer. He’s almost like a father to her. And even though Effie is still as shallow as ever, you can clearly see that she cares a lot about Katniss and Peeta, and Gale in her own way. Pretty much all the characters impacted me, from President Coin who was perfectly done, to Plutarch, to Boggs and Cressida. And lets not forget President Snow. *shudders* Donald Sutherland does such a great job of bringing the villain to life. I will never be able to watch Pride and Prejudice the same way.

Now for the plot. Unlike the first two films, the plot in this one seems to move a bit slowly. But it fits. There’s less action and more character development, and more time to actually care about them. I thought the plot was really well executed as a general rule, and I appreciate that the biggest plot twists were foreshadowed so it wasn’t a complete shock to the ones who hadn’t read the book. I honestly can’t find much fault with the plot to be honest. It would be really tricky for someone who hasn’t seen the first two films to sit down and watch this one, but I think that was the idea. My dad actually watched Catching Fire first, but he was still able to understand most of what was going on before he went back and saw The Hunger Games. As for the cinematography? First rate. District 13 was PERFECT. I never imagined it that way, and yet it somehow fit. I think my favorite bits were when some rebels were headed to blow up a dam and when a pile of white roses ends up over District 13. The music was incredible as well, and like I said earlier, I LOVED the Hanging Tree song. Haunting and perfect for the tone of the film. Speaking of tone, I thought it was tastefully done. For those of us who have read the books, we know that Mockingjay is far darker than the other two. And so I was a little concerned about how dark it was going to get. The result? The film was dark, but they did it with finesse so that you didn’t feel complete despair and gloom. It was an… “intense” darkness. Nail biting, lip chewing, edge of your seat kind of stuff.

As the content goes, this film was a pleasant surprise. The first films had no small amount of cussing, and the first film was pretty brutal in terms of violence. But Mockingjay, despite the darker tone, remained pretty ok. No cussing in this one to be found. There is some violence, the worst instances being where we see human remains. The first instance is when Katniss visits District 12, and sees thousands of human remains. It’s just bones, and we only see a couple of close ups, and for those of us who have seen Lord of the Rings, it won’t be anything too crazy. The other one is when Katniss visits district 8 and goes to a hospital. To get to the wounded, she has to walk through a makeshift morgue, where we see brief glimpses of dead bodies. Its painful, but again, nothing overboard. I think the real issue in terms of content is the intensity of this film. It gets crazy sometimes, and definitely a bit much for the younger set. I know way too many 13 and 14 year olds who went to see the first two films, but I think this one, despite being less bloody, is more intense than the previous two.

Overall? I loved it. I can’t find fault with the characters, plot, or tones, and I think they captured the book perfectly! My one complaint? I can’t believe I have to wait an entire year for the last movie! *Gasp * Stay nerdy!


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