‘Mockingjay: Part 1’ Review

By: Natali Cavanagh

I have been a fan of the  The Hunger Games franchise from the beginning. I fell in love with the original book, The Hunger Games,  when it was first published. I bought Catching Fire the day it was released and read it in a matter of hours. I dressed up for the premiere of The Hunger Games movie.  The Hunger Games and Catching Fire are two of my favorite books and movies. But I will always hate Mockingjay (the book). It’s Suzanne Collins’ worst novel; it’s sloppy, awkwardly paced, and a huge disappointment overall.  Still, I was optimistic walking into the theatre to see Mockingjay: Part 1. I had faith that the story would be better translated on-screen than through text. Thankfully, I was not disappointed, and I might even say that the movie was better than the book.

     First: Jennifer Lawrence. She proved to be the perfect Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, but she shined in Mockingjay: Part 1. Her portrayal of Katniss’s slow descent into madness was mesmerizing. Her looks of pain and powerful pro-rebel monologues made me want to join the revolution. Lawrence captured Katniss’ trauma and turned it into pure emotional energy. I could feel her anger and I could see the damage the world had done. In all honesty, I don’t think anyone could have played Katniss better than Jennifer Lawrence.

Because this was Part 1 of Mockingjay, a large portion of the movie was filler and plot development.  Still, the movie used this opportunity to show what was happening in the districts and Capitol instead of telling us. I liked that the audience could see the rebellion unfol and how Katniss’s propaganda influenced the districts. The parts of the story that made Mockingjay (the book) boring were brought to life in the movie and brought depth and understanding to the plot.

Although Mockingjay was fast-paced and entertaining, there were parts that I found a bit generic. Perhaps this is because I’ve read the book and know what to expect or maybe it’s because of the recent abundance of dystopian films, there are parts that throw Mockingjay into the bag of mainstream dystopias. The cinematography wasn’t spectacular, but I did appreciate a steadier camera.  The setting was what a person would expect from a dystopia; obligatory ruined cities, lavish baroque-like rooms of the elite, and dark metallic underground corridors housing rebels.

The beautiful score and amazing cast made up for the generic parts of the movie. The music perfectly matched the mood of the story, and the Hanging Tree song was well done. Returning characters that stood out were Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark), Liam Hemsworth (Gale Hawthorne), Philip Seymour Hoffman (Plutarch Heavensbee), and Elizabeth Banks (Effie Trinket).

Mockingjay: Part 1 was exciting and heart wrenching; it was the perfect beginning to the end of The Hunger Games trilogy. If Part 1 swept me off my feet so easily, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Part 2.  Mockingjay: Part 2 is expected to be released November 20, 2015.