Review: “Mockingjay – Part 1” flies past expectations

Liana Pickrell and Maddy Jones

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) sprint to escape falling rubble while visiting District 8. Photo courtesy of Lionsgate Entertainment.

Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) sprint to escape falling rubble while visiting District 8. Photo courtesy of Lionsgate Entertainment.

The third installment in the captivating worldwide franchise “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1” closely follows the book’s plot as it picks up where “Catching Fire” left off, following the traumatized Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) as she becomes the rebel’s symbol: the mockingjay.

No longer the sweet baker boy we remember, Peeta returns as a pawn for the capitol. President Snow tortures him until he voices anti-rebellion sentiments in to all of Panem.

No longer the sweet baker boy we remember, Peeta returns as a pawn for the capitol. President Snow tortures him until he voices anti-rebellion sentiments to all of Panem.

The storyline revolves around Katniss in the forgotten-yet-rebellious District 13, as she makes trips to other districts to create propaganda videos as the mockingjay. Her role as the mockingjay is to be the face of the rebellion against the capitol during the revolution. Reunited with her childhood friend Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), Katniss is reluctant to make any commitments to him because she is conflicted about her feelings for Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), her star-crossed lover and male District 12 tribute. Before the Hunger Games, a happy life with Gale was what Katniss always wanted, yet now she questions whether she really loves Peeta as he undergoes a transformation into President Snow’s (Donald Sutherland) puppet.

Lawrence’s emotional performance accurately portrays the traumatized Katniss and her reactions as they were in the books the “Hunger Games” movies are based on. Other characters also remain true to their developments in “Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins. Such as in the case of Gale, where more of his relationship with Katniss is highlighted, and of Finnick Odair (Sam Clafin), who has the largest transformation: swaying far from his over-confident and womanizing ways in the capital as observed in “Catching Fire,” to living a depressing life in District 13.

Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) and Effie  Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) remain a dynamic duo, bringing laughs to the rather somber and violent plot. We see Haymitch in complete withdrawal due to President Coin’s (Julianne Moore) prohibition laws in District 13. Katniss’s escort Effie loses some of her sparkle in her institutionalized military attire, yet remains her quirky self at heart. Without her elaborate makeup, wigs or highfalutin lifestyle, she makes the best of accessorizing what she does have.

Moving away from the arena setting in which the first two movies in the series take place, the storyline unveils new sides of the story’s protagonists as the uprising takes off. Exploring the revolts within the districts puts faces to the uprising’s cause and casualties, which connects the audience to each character and allows us to understand Panem, the futuristic, dystopian world of the novels, better.

“Mockingjay” captures the spirit of the beginning of an uprising by offering a more somber tone. The film’s mood is particularly captured in the haunting ballad, “The Hanging Tree,” sung by Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, which echoes the sadness of the loss of so many of Panem. These emotional moments tug at the audience’s heartstrings, but the mood is often lightened by comedic breaks from fan-favorite characters Haymitch and Effie.

The choice to split the book into two movies pays off as audiences are able to get an in-depth look into Panem’s districts and the supporting characters, which can be particularly appreciated by fans of the series. Some characters such as Gale, who were hardly developed in previous films, are able to show more layers of their personalities and win over the audience’s hearts.

Effie (Elizabeth Banks), Katniss' escort from the capitol, goes through a makeup and wig withdrawal while living in militaristic District 13. However, she is is still able to keep a few accessories from her past as well as her lofty attitude. Photo courtesy of Lionsgate Entertainment.

Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), Katniss’ escort from the capitol, goes through a makeup and wig withdrawal while living in militaristic District 13. However, she is is still able to keep a few accessories from her past as well as her lofty attitude. Photo courtesy of Lionsgate Entertainment.

While the film does delve deeply into the characters and the world of Panem, it also features action-packed combat and mission sequences, which kept us on the edge of our seats.

The graphic representations of District 13 really bring the book to life while remaining realistic. The lavish Capitol parties, clothing and food are replaced by drab military barracks, gray jumpsuits and cafeteria rations.

Though the ending does seem slightly abrupt, we left with an overall excitement to await the final installment in the Hunger Games series as “Mockingjay– Part 2” is scheduled to be released on Nov. 20, 2015.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

123 minutes Release Date: Nov. 21, 2014

Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some disturbing images and thematic material

Directed by Francis Lawrence

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Phillip Seymour-Hoffman and Elizabeth Banks