Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 - 3 1/2 stars

This is the third movie in the Hunger Games series.  Based on the first half of the third book – the second half, and fourth movie, will be released in a year – this is the best Hunger Games movie so far.  The games are over and now the rebellion is preparing to go to war against the capital.

I wasn’t a big fan of the first movie.  I thought the story idea was good and I enjoyed the buildup to the games, but once they got to the actual games, I started to lose interest.  The games just weren’t exciting enough to live up to all the buildup.  The second movie was ok, but once again, the second half of the movie was just more games. 

In this movie, things start to get really interesting.  Katniss has been saved by the rebels after she destroyed the arena in the last movie.  She’s taken to District 13 where the rebels have been living and hiding under the direction of President Coin (Julianne Moore).  The rebels are trying to mobilize the districts to unite and fight against the capital, and they want Katniss to be the Mockingjay, the symbol that will unite and inspire everyone to fight.

At first, it doesn’t go well.  Katniss realizes they want to use her the same way President Snow used her, as propaganda.  She hates President Snow, but she’s more concerned about the safety of her friends and family than she is with the upcoming war.  More than anything, she wants to rescue Peeta, who was captured after the events of the last movie. 

After giving President Coin some terms, she finally agrees.  One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) is trying to direct Katniss for a propaganda video.  She’s supposed to be holding a flag and giving a speech after being in a battle, and it just doesn’t feel authentic.  Katniss may have been through hell, but she can’t really act.  Heavensbee soon realizes that they’re going to have to film her in actual dangerous situations in order to get what they want out of her.  As the message gets out, the districts start fighting back. 

I really enjoyed this movie, and I wasn’t expecting to.  Once again, Jennifer Lawrence does a great job of carrying the movie.  Katniss is an interesting character and it’s easy to empathize with her situation.  And even though this is only the first half of the last book, it has a beginning, middle, and end.  It doesn’t feel like they stretched it into two movies just to make more money off the franchise.

For the first time, I am looking forward to the next Hunger Games movie.  I just hope MockingJay – Part 2 can live up to expectations.

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