The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 Review

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Studio: Color Force, Lionsgate
Running Time: 123 minutes

Verdict: 4 / 5

There is always a moment, a defining turnaround. This time, down by the lake in Distinct-12, there is this eerie pause, and then Katniss does something that changes the whole game; she sings, and Panem listens. 

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Hope is contagious, and too much of it is dangerous, but it is the only thing stronger than fear; it is the only thing that will defeat Snow. Against that cold winter snow that burns beauty white, there will be 4 simple notes that relay across the lands, carried on the wind. It is the melody of an uprising and the harmony, that once reigned, is over. All that remains are those damning white roses, which do nothing but cover the graves of the fallen. The people, moved by hope, will crawl over each other’s dead bodies to fight for freedom.

The saga continues immediately where it left off from the second edition, Catching Fire. Be sure to have caught up on the plot, characters, relationships and emotions as there is no narrated preface or montage to remind you. To grasp the full entertainment value you will need to be a book fan, have recently watched the past two films, or just have a really good memory.

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The game arena has been destroyed, and Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), along with a few other victors has been rescued by Plutarch (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman) who schemed this daring escape with the help of Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) and Finnick (Sam Claflin). They flee to the furthest outlying district, thought to have been completely destroyed but now a secret fortress, District-13. The focus now turns to over-throwing President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and seizing the Capitol, but first they must unite the districts into one force, one mind and one agenda. For this they need a symbol of justice, freedom and power – the Mockingjay. For Katniss, this stuff just got real, and she must decide if President Coin (Julianne Moore) is just another dictator with an agenda, or a tool to help her save Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) from imprisonment and torture. To her, Peeta is the only soul who truly understands her love and her pain, if only she knew…

The theme of polarity continues with the rebel base that feels very Star Wars-like, with incredibly advanced technology somehow run by an array of little red and green buttons and shiny clicking dials. There are moments where Katniss is completely disregarded, even trampled on and forgotten, as if she is not famous or recognised, which just shows the magnitude of the nation of rebels, and the fragility of her body, and in turn the entire operation. This is her strength, that she is just a girl who did the right thing in a tough situation, making her relatable and believable.

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In the long list of characters everyone has their own demons to face and sub-plots to fill. This is where the movie can never show the true narrative so tangible in the books. Haymitch sobers up, President Coin steps up, Finnick ‘fesses up and Effie returns to dress-up. As for Gale and Katniss; well that could be a whole novel on its own. This all makes for a great evolution in the series, well scripted and moving away from the situational to the metaphorical. The motivation for Katniss’s actions move away from a response to an immediate danger into a new game of media propaganda, battle strategy and tough calls, but still all about survival.

So the games have ended, but the game is just beginning and now the sacrifices are greater, and the stakes are higher, but can simple acts of love still win the world over? You will need to wait for November 2015 for part 2. As part 1 ends you will feel that that wait will be difficult, but that is what all of this is all about, hope for the future.

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