Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I Review

So I watched The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I…

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Catching Fire had been such a revelation for me last year. It came out of nowhere and became my favourite film of 2013 and Mockingjay Part I, might just have done the same thing this year.

Okay, basic plot: Jennifer Lawrence is back as everyone’s favourite shero, this time she isn’t just fighting for her life or that of her sister’s but for the freedom of the entire world…um or country – don’t really know how large the districts are. Anyway, Katniss reluctantly agrees to be the face of the revolution (i.e. The Mockingjay) by becoming a reality tv star and shooting a bunch of propaganda videos to inspire a bunch of unarmed people to – foolishly – attack soldiers with guns.

When I walked out of the theatre only one word came to mind to describe this movie – MASTERPIECE. This movie is amazing to watch, it’s just over two hours long but you never feel the time. It never feels like there’s a clear beginning, middle or end – the story just flows and when the movie does end,  you’re left wishing there was another hour to go.

Jennifer Lawrence does a great job, as usual, playing Katniss. Who in this movie is a lot more broken and in need of hope more than ever. This is the best acting, I’ve seen JLaw do, she embodies the spirit of Katniss and The Mockingjay perfectly.

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Elizabeth Banks as Effie was the delight, for me, of this movie. The clear juxtaposition of Effie’s overly grandiose style to the drab, banal tone of the rebels around her is brought to life superbly by Banks. She’s funny and gives you some much needed comedic relief.

Liam Hemsworth finally gets the screen time he so patiently waited for in the first two movies and he…doesn’t do much with it. I don’t know if all the men in Katniss’ life have to be weepy and desperate for her love but Hemsworth just comes across as annoying. I know Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) could also be annoying but I feel like he at least earned his whinniness.

Speaking of Hutcherson, he doesn’t have a huge role in this movie but I really liked seeing him whenever he had a scene, especially because of his physical transformation in this movie.

This movie taps into the same focus on political power that made Catching Fire so entertaining. The story really takes its time and gives the political themes being showcased time to properly percolate and entertain. This movie really reminded me of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes; both in terms of the themes discussed and the confidence it has in allowing its story enough time to develop.

The story is really powerful. The themes of politics, love, duty and responsibility are brilliantly executed. It shows how wars and revolutions aren’t always about who has the most guns or the best army. Struggles are often about symbols and our belief in these symbols. That’s what makes Katniss so powerful, she’s an idea, a rallying cry and that’s why her story is worth telling.

The best thing about this movie is how it remembers to keep the scope small but the stakes huge. In movies about war and revolution, it’s easy to get swept up trying to show every single person’s reaction to every single event and this dilutes the heart of the movie. The focus of this movie is solely on Katniss and there are only a handful of scenes that she isn’t in. This really allows you to see the story through her eyes and keeps things personal even though her actions directly influence the lives of millions. Keeping the scope small like this really enables you to connect and care for Katniss.

The movie is a lot darker than the first two. The first two weren’t exactly full of rainbows and unicorns but this movie definitely feels more macabre and you feel how Katniss is now more of an adult and that the ‘games’ really are done.

Overall, this movie is a triumph of film. It makes the difficult issues of life accessible through entertaining visuals and that’s what movies are about. Watch this! It’s worth the price of admission, ten times over. Don’t know if it’s gonna win the title of my favourite movie of 2014 (Gone Girl may have sealed that title) but it’s definitely in my top 3 list so far. Amazing movie. 9/10

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