The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1 came out three days ago on November 21st and took the world by storm! The long-awaited Mockingjay film was met with mostly positive reviews, some praising it for it's amazing storytelling, solid performances and political undertones; while many also criticized it for its lack of action and noticeable departure from the first two films of the series.
I got to see Mockingjay when it premiered at Harkins in AZ. Sure it wasn't a big red carpet premiere, but it was nice to go and see the film. I thought it was amazing, it was very much worth both the wait time between it and Catching Fire and the hours I had to spend in line to assure a seat!
While I don't think it's flawless, here are some reasons why I think it's the best in the series.
1. Hunger Games 3 picks right back up where 2 left off
This one is kind of a given. As expected with a film that is adapted from the third book in a series, it picks back up where the second film left off. Still it was nice to see the series continue so surely and smoothly. If you had watched Catching Fire and Mockingjay—Part 1 back-to-back, it would be like watching a single four hour long movie! Of course, this could be bad for some. If you haven't seen Catching Fire, this movie doesn't exactly put together all the pieces for you. Sure it mentions Katniss shooting an arrow at the forcefield during CF, but it either glosses over or doesn't mention at all the other details. But if you have watched the other films, or read the other books, it's nice to see how well it picks back up—despite a year time difference.
2. The Political Undertones
I'm not big on politics. It's just not my cup of tea (party). But the soft political themes in this movie are greatly appreciated! At first, the movie may not look very political. But upon closer inspection, the political clues are hard to miss! Firstly there's the war that Katniss has sparked with her rebellious actions. Though the war may seem like a simple battle of good versus evil, like most wars, both sides have moral and unmoral reasoning. District 13, though fighting to end the games and take the down the oppressive Capitol, is not necessarily the good guy. As seen when they barely try to save a hospital in Mockingjay. And when Coin at first disagrees with Katniss' wish to excuse the "war prisoners/criminals" Peeta, Johanna and Annie of their crimes; even though it's obvious they were only trying to survive in the Capitol after being left behind. Point is, District 13, like the Capitol, is a government. And Coin is a President; like any President, she will do whatever she thinks best for her nation and her cause. As seen by a certain scene you'll most likely see in Part 2 (Sorry, I'm a book reader.)
Same can be said for Snow and his Capitol soldiers, they are just a government. What they're doing is wrong, but the people and the soldiers don't exactly know that. Most of them grew up with these whacked out morals, believing the games to be nothing more than a fun form of television entertainment. The argument can be made that President Snow knows of the cruelty of the games, but I doubt that cold heartless bastard would even care.
Point is, this isn't your classic "Hero versus Villain" match-up. It's one political party trying to become a higher power by effectively getting rid of a different political party.
3. Katniss has grown!
Katniss Everdeen, survivor, winner of two Hunger Games and just all round awesome person! Katniss is the hero of the HG story and for good reason. She's beautiful but at the same time bad-ass! She can show up to interviews and parties and flash a smile at the camera one moment, and beat you to death with nothing but a twig and a piece of lint in the next!
But just as her appeal has grown, so has she! As seen in Mockingjay—Part 1, where the character of Katniss Everdeen has drastically changed. The first time we see her, she's reciting her name and everything else she remembers while in a dark area wearing a hospital gown. She's notably paranoid and has nightmares constantly. It shows a side of her that we hadn't seen since she volunteered as tribute back in the first film—fear. There's a part of her that's always been afraid, but ever since after the first games, she's hid it with expressions of courage, bravery and strength. She had to after all, everyone in every District was watching her. She wanted to survive the games, and show the Capitol and the people in every District that she wasn't just some scared girl, she was a fighter!
The fear she has in Mockingjay doesn't make her weak however, far from it! It only strengthens her resolve when she see what Snow has done to 12, and how the rest of the Districts are paying for what she did. She decides that she wants to fight back and become the Mockingjay. She lets her fear mix with her bravery and mold her into an unstoppable force!
But how does her fear help her? Well for one thing, it finally opens her eyes to what's really happening in the world around her. When she was in the games, she didn't care about the other Districts, the people. The only thing she cared about was getting herself (and Peeta) home safely. When she is whisked away by the District 13 jet and taken to their base, she is finally made aware of how her actions have affected the world. Accounts of death, famine and riots all over Panem. But rather than hide away from her problems, she faces them. She embraced her fears, rather than locking them up in a box and going about her day.
4. They play mind games maaaaaaaan
Mockingjay is very...trippy when you think about it. First off there's Peeta's brainwashing. He's been manipulated using a mixture of trackerjacker venom and torture to believe that Katniss is bad for his health. So bad that he literally tries to choke the life out of her in one scene!
This obviously doesn't go well, leaving Katniss in a neck brace and Peeta restrained in a locked up room. But he's not the only one getting his mind messed with.
All throughout the movie, Katniss sees President Snows signature—white roses. White roses that have been genetically enhanced to make their scent super strong so that they hide the scent of blood that comes from the mouthsores he gets from drinking a poisonous drink that enables him to "survive inhumanely". These roses mess with Katniss' mind. Not literally, but they trigger memories, bad ones. They cause her to go into a state of panic, even making her gag over the strong stench of the roses. Snow knows that when she sees them, it affects her greatly. This is his "head in a box" (you know when in those movies someone gets a package and it's a box with a head in it?). It's a great strategic tactic and I'd commend him for it, if he wasn't such a cold heartless bastard.
5. It's a far cry from the last two films!
Don't get me wrong, I loved the first two films! Hunger Games and Catching Fire were great and will always be on my list of favorite films! But I love Mockingjay so much because it's so different from the first two! See, as great as CF was, it was a lot like the first one. Sure there differences in plot but the main themes was the same; "Katniss goes in to the Hunger Games, kills a bunch of people, kisses Peeta a lot, kills some more people, survives the games, some bad stuff happens almost immediately after she survives the games." It was very close to being the exact same movie. And no one likes that (I'm looking at you Hangover Part 2 -_-).
It was nice to see a change in Mockingjay, albeit a lot of pretty big ones! The movie, though focusing more on a dramatic aspect than an action tone, is a great and endearing film! There are no games in the films, but it does show the effect the games (and Katniss' actions) have on the world of Panem. A political war has broken out and the Capitol is executing anyone who has connections to or supports Katniss Everdeen (Does this mean I should stop following her on Twitter?). Not only that, but District 12 is completely destroyed and many of its residents have either died or been rehabilitated in the underground base of the thought to be dead District 13.
The world is changing, and Katniss with it. It's like the first two films (or two books) are the Cause, and Mockingjay is the Effect. It's a really great theme and absolutely perfect storytelling!
So that's my thoughts on why Mockingjay is the best in the series. It's a political drama that lacks action and ends on a huge cliffhanger! But nevertheless I strongly recommend this film to fans and non-fans alike! It'll definitely get you pumped and get you ready for Part 2 next year!