Friday, December 5, 2014

Mockingjay Part 1





By now most of us have probably seen The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay Part 1. It’s an easy guess considering its box office success. (And SPOILER ALERT for those who have not yet seen.) The surprising part has been the negative reviews it has gotten. Well, not exactly negative, but more along the lines of "I thought it would be better." I have to wonder what movies these professional reviewers actually expected? There are the claims from some that they have read the book. But if that were the case, they would know that the final story in the Katniss Everdeen saga is a different story all together. While there is a kind of game still going on, Mockingjay is a story about a civil war, not about a sadistic reality show forcing teens to kill each other. The tone is darker. While the games are dark, kids killing kids and all, this is goinginto different territory. We also get deeper into Katniss post traumatic stress and we even get to see the effects of the games on Finnick. We also get to hear the grim details of how he became a sex slave.

I do suppose that there is a bit of a valid complaint in that there is a trend to split up the final book in a series into two films. Some complained about the Hobbit being turned into a trilogy even though it was only one book. But money aside, if we only had one film, we would be craving more and complaining about our favorite details being left out. I happen to think Part 1 of Mocking Jay is a good film. It proves, as does I think The Hobbit, that if done correctly, stretching these stories out is a win win for everyone. The suits get their coveted money and we get more of the world that we so crave to see on screen.

Part 1 is a setup for Part 2. But then again, the first two films are setting up the last act as well, so what is the big deal? Again, going on the tone, this is no longer a game. We all knew what was coming, well most of us anyway. So what was it about? (For those who have not seen the film.) It is, as President Snow says, about “moves and counter moves.” I would compare it to another series that got its final story split into two, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. Both sides are making their last moves on the chess board, preparing for their final moves.

From here on out, we will not see the Capital as it was. In the first two films, it was an over the top utopia of excess for the privileged. Now we only see it from the outside, as everyone else does. The far off ivory tower in the distance. The world we see up close is the other side of the coin, District 13 in all its drab, militaristic efficiency. In 13, there is no time and space for luxury.

Katniss finds herself as the tip of the spear for the District 13 war machine. Plutarch Heavensby has convinced D13 President Alma Coin that Katniss can be the rallying cry for revolution, their Mockingjay. Even though Katniss’ eyes have finally been opened to all the things going on around her, she is still not in control of her fate. But at least now she is in a position with an ally, or at least the enemy of her enemy. It shouldn’t take reading the final book to tell that Coin has more going on than she is letting on. By the way, is it me or are Pres. Coin's eyes looking a little... off. Not in a disfigurement kind of way. And maybe it's just me, but the coloring of her eyes (contacts to add a little something to the character?) makes he look not quite human.

Mocking Jay Part 1 follows the closer to the book than the previous film has. This is an added benefit to the final story being split into two. It would be hard to say what would have been left out. But for example, in the last film, we missed out on Peeta grilling chunks of mutant rat on the arena force field, much to the elation of Katnis and their allies. There is no doubt that if Mockingjay were a single film, we would enjoy it, but we would be talking about all the things that we missed, the bits of story that had to be left out for the sake of time.

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