- Great casting as usual
- Really moving moments
- Smart art direction
- Movie can be too heavy at times
Mockingjay is the final installment in the Hunger Games series, and although there are only three books, this final film has been split into two parts. While at first this seems like a move designed to milk the series for all of it’s money, it actually works in the film’s favor.
Many vastly important beats can be focused on further, we never feel rushed along, and the sheer gravity of the films events are given sufficient time to be felt by the audience.
We follow Katniss Everdeen as she rouses from sleep in an unfamiliar and cold military facility. Following the events of the Catching Fire, we learn that she has been broken out of the games and swept away to the fabled District 13, a militaristic society that lives in opposition to the Capital. Katniss must choose whether or not to be the face of a rebellion that she has set in motion since her first games. She tries to hold onto her sanity as crippling loss plagues her, and the sadistic President Snow uses one of her closest friends as a pawn in their deadly game.
Seeing the rampant destruction and cruelty the Capital has spread, Katniss Everdeen becomes steadfast in her ambition to fight for the freedom of the people of Panem. She quickly learns however, that this is no longer merely about her, she is a symbol, and a greatly important one at that. We watch in suspense and at times, in horror, as the repercussions of her actions play out across the screen.
If you have read the books, you already know that the Hunger Games provides absolutely no solace to it’s readers. There is no happy ending to be found here, because prices must be paid for every victory. But even knowing this fact going into Mockingjay, the overall look and feel is very dark. While at first it can be a bit heavy, it also lends to keep the narrative moving, we as viewers know that very serious events are about to take place, and you don’t want to miss a single moment.
Costume and world design have been upgraded from the previous films, but never feels over the top or overdone. The sci fi elements of the film, the military equipment, vehicles, and weapons look realistic with a more futuristic edge, which should age well.
As usual, every member of the cast has put on an amazing show. Jennifer Lawrence plays a very convincing and broken Katniss Everdeen. Her ill fated companion from the games, Peeta, played by Josh Hutcherson, is also played very although the narrative is a bit restricting to his performance.
Through much of the film, the narrative calls for his performance to remain calm and tempered, but as the movie progresses we see him become more frantic, and in his final dramatic breaking point, we see a jarring performance that elicits gasps from the crowd. Other returning and beloved actors such as Woody Harrelson and Elizabeth Banks put on an equally wonderful performance, and become as much as an anchor for the audience as they are for Katniss.
Being politically active, as I watched Mockingjay I could not help but feel a bit frustrated. This film is taken for a lot less than it actually is. We live in a country that has committed the very same atrocities against it’s own citizens as the Capital has. We have watched real life “Peacekeepers” or police gun down people, In 1985 the U.S. bombed Philadelphia in an effort to root out an emergent revolutionary group, killing innocent American women and children.
All across the news we see the poor fighting for more rights, for fairer wages, and better working conditions. So I cannot help but feel annoyed that the Hunger Games series is not taken as a serious reflection upon our own society.
As a direct parallel to the corrupt and violent government of the Capital, we are introduced to District 13. It is packed with imagery reminiscent of Ayn Rand’s writing, we see an alternate society working like a hive for the greater good, striving to create a society where a man lives by the sweat of his brow rather than serving the oligarchy (Andrew Ryan would be proud). This film is not merely edgy young adult fiction, but deserves to be taken much more seriously.
Interestingly enough, there are many across the globe who have taken this as a call to action. In China, and even more so in Thailand, the three finger salute used as a sign of solidarity in the Hunger Games, has been outlawed and the movie pulled from cinema chains across the country. Other students have been arrested for handing out tickets to see the film. It seems that the parallels between the oppressive regime of the Capital and that of their own nations are far too clear. Protests inspired by the Hunger Games began after Catching Fire, but have sparked again recently due to the revolutionary nature of Mockingjay.
I am very much looking forward to the final installment in this ambitious series. For those who shy away from films like these with mild sci fi or fantasy, The Hunger Games films are much more than that. Under the surface, Mockingjay, just like it’s predecessors, is a film about very human connections and the loss that comes with great sacrifice. For a film guaranteed to make you think, to make you feel something, and hopefully reflect on the world in which you live, check out Mockingjay, in theaters now.