This is the third November in a row that we’ve gotten to see a new Hunger Games movie, and I’m not looking forward to the day that they stop making them. The Hunger Games gained a huge following as a young adult book series, and when the first movie came out, people went crazy for it. It rocketed Jennifer Lawrence to stardom and got that little mockingjay jingle stuck in the heads of millions of moviegoers. And now here we are with the third film in the series, Mockingjay Part One. In case you’re wondering, yes, it does live up to the hype.
Let me just start by saying how much I hate the title of this movie. It’s entirely too long and an unnecessary by-product of America’s obsession with branding. How many people wouldn’t know that a movie called “Mockingjay Part One” is a part of the Hunger Games series? I feel like that’s pretty common knowledge. But for some reason, creators of these movie series can’t let the titles stand on their own, so they have to bump the main title down to a subtitle and add the series title at the beginning. I understand that everyone is doing this, but it just seems unnecessary to me. Oh well. Rant over.
Now on the actual movie. I really enjoyed Mockingjay Part One. My biggest fear with two-part movies is that the first one is just going to be setup for the second. That was not the case with Mockingjay at all. Of course, there are elements of the movie that were not completely resolved, as with any movie with a planned sequel, but it told a whole story in a compelling way, and that’s something that can be difficult with a “part one of two” type film.
I’ll try to tell you a little bit about what the movie is about without spoiling anything for you. Basically, the movie picks up a little while after the end of Catching Fire, with Katniss caught in the middle of a rebel plot that she isn’t sure she even wants to be a part of. To make matters more complicated, the rebels want Katniss to be the face of their rebellion, their Mockingjay. While adjusting to her new underground life and spending most of her waking hours worrying about the fate of Peeta, Katniss must decide if she’s ready to put it all on the line for a rebellion she never meant to start.
Jennifer Lawrence nailed the Katniss role as usual. This time, we’re seeing Katniss on her own, without Peeta, and it reveals a whole new side of her. We see Katniss on the brink of a breaking point a couple of times, and Jennifer Lawrence did a great job portraying those sides of Katniss without losing sight of who the character was. And of course Katniss had some brilliant scenes where she’s the bold leader as well, and they were played magnificently. The movie shows us probably the broadest range of emotions we’ve seen in Katniss so far, and I think it was handled well.
The rest of the cast did a great job as well. There weren’t as many characters in this film as in the first two because the plot was much more contained to one area. But we see familiar faces like Gale, Prim, Katniss’s mother, Haymitch, Plutarch, Finnick, President Snow, and (surprisingly) Effie. The biggest new character is President Coin, the leader of the rebellion. I feel like all of the actors did a great job, but Jennifer Lawrence was obviously the standout actress.
One of the biggest things I wondered about going into this film was where they would cut it off. Like I said before, they needed to tell a whole story, but they needed to leave enough of the plot to justify a second film as well. I won’t tell you exactly where they cut the film off, but I will say that I think they picked the perfect point in the story to do so. The film didn’t seem too long or too short, and it ultimately did what it was meant to do: create hype for next year’s Mockingjay Part Two.
If you saw the first two Hunger Games movies and enjoyed them, you won’t be disappointed by Mockingjay Part One. If you haven’t seen The Hunger Games, now would be a good time to get caught up on the films before the final one comes out next year. It’s a very compelling story played by talented actors, and really, it’s just a good time. If you’ve seen Mockingjay Part One, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it! And if you haven’t, check it out in theaters this weekend. Thanks for reading, friends, and I hope you have a great weekend. I’ll see you next week!