The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 ~ A Capsule Movie Review by Allen Kopp
The residents of the strange alternate world known as “Panem” are savagely oppressed by a cruel government represented by the word “Capitol” and personified by creepy Donald Sutherland as the “president.” Enter Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), famous because she was the winner, two times, of the Hunger Games. Like a modern-day Joan of Ark, she will lead her people to freedom against tyranny. Or will she?
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 is the third movie based on the popular book series. While movie number one and number two were very much alike, this one is quite different. Katniss Everdeen is recruited by the leader of the opposition, Alma Coin (Juliette Moore), to be its “mockingjay” in the fight for freedom against the government. Katniss is perfect for the mockingjay because she’s resourceful, brave, determined, fed up with the way her people are treated, but, most of all, she’s known all over the land for her triumphs in the Hunger Games. Getting her to represent the opposition is a major public relations coup.
The government has no intention of letting its people be free; it prefers to see them dead and will employ any measures to get and keep the upper hand, including bombing large parts of the country to cinders. Another of the government’s tactics is to use Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) as a sort of propaganda tool. You will recall (or maybe you don’t) that Peeta Mellark was with Katniss during the Hunger Games and is an important person in her life (she finally admits that she’s in love with him). Peeta appears to have gone over to the other side but has in reality undergone a kind of brainwashing. He goes on TV as part of an orchestrated plot of disheartening the opposition and tells them that they should lay down their arms and give up their fight against the government. Those who know Peeta know that he is being manipulated like a puppet on a string. Katniss wants Peeta back. Will they be able to rescue him from the enemy? What will he be like once he has returned? Those questions are answered, in part, in this movie, but apparently we will have to wait until the next chapter to learn the whole truth.
Some of the characters from the first two movies are also on hand here, including the ever-strange Effie Trinket, minus her wigs and outrageous outfits; Haymitch Abernathy, the drunken “trainer” from the earlier movies who doesn’t have much to do here; Gayle Hawthorne, Katniss’s alternate love interest who also doesn’t have much to do; Primrose, Katniss’s cat-loving sister; and Caesar Flickerman as the very odd TV host, minus the blue hairdo.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 is dark, figuratively and literally. Some of the scenes are so dark that you can hardly see what’s going on. Most of the action takes place in a sort of bunker where the opposition is encamped. What’s worse than the darkness is the incomprehensible dialogue, either because of the layered soundtrack or because the actors have been eating mush before going in front of the camera. When it’s shown on TV, I’ll watch it and turn on the closed captions so I can find out what they were really saying.
Fans of the books and of the first two movies will probably love The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, but it’s not for everybody. Those who haven’t followed the story up to this point probably won’t have a clue as to what is going on.
Copyright © 2014 by Allen Kopp