The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

The Hunger Games and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire gave us a totalitarian dystopia with more teen deaths than Final Destination could wave a stick at. But, what more could one, with no knowledge of the books, want from a teen fiction adaptation? It has to appeal to a wider audience. Simply regurgitating the story for the screen would not have been enough. The dialogue needed to be polished, the expressions furnished, and the brows furrowed for adults to take this as a serious box office contender if Lionsgate was going to take our money. With the first two films in the burgeoning franchise focusing primarily on the eponymous ‘games’ the thrid installment begins where Catching Fire finishes. Following Beetee’s explosive plan and Katniss’ improvisation we’re transported alongside a dazed and confused Katniss to District 13 aboard a rebel ship.

Since it’s release there has been a lot of focus on the political allegory of wartime propaganda. ‘LittleWhiteLies’ opens with “Could this satire on the power of propaganda be the greatest third part to a film franchise ever?” ultimately concluding, yes. While, ‘Empire’ frames their story around Jennifer Lawrence’s dual role and responsibility. Becoming at once the figurehead of both the fictional revolution, the titular ‘Mockingjay’, and the franchise as a whole. The power of film is central to both arguments and Francis Lawrence deserves the praise for adapting Suzanne Collins’ otherwise lost revolutionary fervour. I am at once both excited and apprehensive about the final chapter of the franchise. Already aware of how the story pans out I’m excited because if it is done correctly it will be incredible. But there are certain elements of the story that let it down considerably, these are the parts that worry me most. However, if it is treated with the same respect as Part 1 then we are in for a treat come next year.

It is revealed to Katniss that Peeta was captured by President Snow after the Quarter Quell in Catching Fire. Unable to shake her desperate guilt and loyalty Mockingjay – Part 1 concerns itself with Katniss’ selfish struggle to distance herself from a revolution that she doesn’t necessarily believe in. Although she is clearly against Snow and his minions of oppression in the Capitol she stubbornly resists the urges of her compatriots to become the figurehead of the rebellion. More concerned with the well-being of her family, Gale, and Peeta it takes a shocking visit to her home in District 12 to ignite the her revolutionary zeal.

We’ve become accustomed to Katniss’ style by now. When President Alma Coin’s (Julianne Moore) plans to use Katniss as a propaganda tool are revealed, naturally Katniss is against the idea. Dressing up in front of a green screen just isn’t her style. From the attention Jennifer Lawrence receives in the press and on social media we can assume she is of a similar attitude which is tantamount to the success of the franchise. Without a convincing female lead The Hunger Games would have ended in a blood bath of scathing reviews but Lawrence brings it to life. Employed by Coin and the now rebel Plutarch Heavensbee (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman) to create ‘propos’, propaganda videos to be sent nationwide to all of the districts including the Capitol, in an amusing scene it is decided that the best message has to come from Katniss herself. Demanding an opportunity to see some action Katniss, along with Gale and a camera crew, visit District 8 to put together some footage of Capitol devastation. Engaging in a firefight with Capitol bombers Katniss is thrust into the spotlight and delivers a hard-hitting message to inspire the rebels to arms.

Countering the efforts of District 13 President Snow has his own weapon in the form of one Peeta Mellark. Used to encourage a ceasefire and quell the revolutionary spirit that is gradaully growing Katniss’ efforts are stunted at first but Francis Lawrence cleverly instersperses revolutionary montage to show the effect the Mockingjay is having. With the majority of the film set underground these brief moments of revolutionary action frame the efforts of District 13 perfectly and actually provide some of the more inspiring scenes.

In the closing act of the Brilliant first installment, a blacked out Capitol plays host to a daring rescue mission for Peeta, amongst others, the film becomes more than just a struggle for survival against the Capitol odds. With Katniss and Peeta spearheading the propaganda war this box office sensation toys with ideas of political satire that make it so much more than a teen fiction adaptation. Deep underground in the humble revolutionary abode the Mockingjay is about to be set loose. The release of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 couldn’t come any sooner but will it be Mission Success or Game Over?

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