The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 came out to the box office swinging, using a holistic approach to the beating heart of a revolution smashing its way to a $123 million opening weekend.
The third installment of the four part series (the books were a trilogy) opened with its heroine, Katniss, struggling to cope with her Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Though Katniss’ psychological issues are never tackled head-on by the characters, actress Jennifer Lawrence and director Francis Lawrence are sure to pay close attention to her worsening condition.
Francis drops the audience straight into the heart of District 13, the once mythical district/state that dared to rebel against the Capitol. Following along the narrative written by Suzanne Collins, District 13 is portrayed as a beehive constantly humming to the tune of revolution.
Instead of following the path of other sci-fi films Mockingjay, Part 1 doesn’t portray either side as an absolute. While the Capitol is viewed as the bad guy, some characters defect from its tyranny to help film rebel propaganda. On the contrary, District 13 is so focused on bringing down the Capitol that it often forgets to look at its own ethics and morals.
During speeches by the district’s president, Coin, the audience often has prolonged applause. This is a similar social construct seen in countries with fascist or totalitarian governments. Look up uncut footage of speeches from North Korea, Soviet Russia, or Nazi Germany and you’ll see exact examples of this.
Another issue with District 13 is its depth. If this setting were a character, it would have been deemed a flat one. Other than a handful of elite members, no one seems to do anything in the district. You might begin to think these soldiers only eat and cheer for speeches.
The third instalments in the Hunger Games series breaks from the earlier movies in a way that is somewhat difficult to explain. Comparatively it feels uncanny. Our heroine, Katniss Everdeen, seems to be going up along with the plot. Sure this movie is still about her, but Katniss begins to realize this revolution isn’t just about her. She isn’t the only one being affected by the Capitol.
At various points during the film the audience is taken to far away districts where the rebellion is turning into a full fletched revolution. By taking a holistic approach, the film begins to take on a more mature tone. Instead of forced combat between minors, we now see scores of men being shot down by the capitol. Some scenes can be compared to the Russian revolution.
Hopefully the tweens are realizing this series isn’t just an awkward love triangle.
There is one main issue that holds this movie back, the music. I’m not talking about the part where Katniss sings, that’s fine. What I’m talking about is the background music that tries to make every other scene into a spectacle.
Early on Katniss receives the well known three finger salute from a large crowd of at a hospital. This is a scene that would have been great had they kept it quiet. Sadly, the scene feels forced when a giant crescendo of music comes blaring over the speakers. It is a silent protest and a silent salute, and I was they had kept it that way.
Yes, Mockingjay, Part 1 has a few issues, but so did the first two movies. It accomplished what it needed to do and has set the stage for an epic conclusion.
Part one was the cold war, part two will be an all out revolution.