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Review The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1

I was quite excited about this movie being a moderate Hunger Games fan (who doesn’t love Katniss? she is feisty, brave, tenderhearted and an excellent archer) My teenagers were so excited they booked seats on the opening night well in advance but we were happily surprised with tickets to the Premiere …so being the first in New Zealand to see the movie gave it an extra dimension.  Queen Street Event Cinemas did a great job with a free coke and huge bucket of popcorn for the packed theatre. After the dramatic end of Catching Fire it was hard to know what to expect – could  the movie sustain the same tension and excitement? We all know it is a two part movie so another dramatic ending is expected to segue into the next movie.

Katniss wakes up in the hospital of District 13’s underground bunker.  Shooting at the Force Field with her arrow has caused  a power outage everywhere in Panem and District 12 is destroyed.  The Rebels now live in District 13 but Peeta  has not made it back there. President Coin and Plutarch ask Katniss to become the ‘Mockingjay’  the face of their rebel campaign and feature in commercials to engage support of the rebel cause. At first she refuses but then asks for a rescue of Peeta and the others in return for making the commercials called propo’s. Beetee (who is the Hunger Games version of  Q in the Bond movies) makes her a special weapon of a bow with 3 different  kinds of explosive arrows.

Quite a lot of the movie is spent making these commercials where they visit ruined Districts littered with skeletons and rubble to film the right expression on Katniss’s face. In District 8 they visit a hospital with terrible conditions for the injured and dying supporters. Someone recognises Katniss, and asks her why she is there with the reply she is there to help them. The whole hospital make the mockingjay sign and whistle in support of the rebels but  then as Katniss and the group leave the hospital it is bombed to the ground. President Snow has been watching every detail on his screen back in the Capitol. As he previously declares  the mockingjay sign and whistle are treason and anyone doing it will be killed. So the bombers come to reduce the hospital and patients to a pile of rubble. Katniss uses her new arrows to shoot down two of the planes  in retaliation and this brutal act of Snow’s strengthens her desire for justice and to eventually kill him.

Peeta appears in the broadcasts from the Capitol but it is obvious he is under some kind of control by President Snow. Katniss is determined to rescue him from the Tributes Tower in the Capitol as she is horrified by the way Peeta is being treated. The Capitol bombs District 13, just as Peeta warned it would. During the bombing the rebels  of District 13 retreat underground for several days. Watch for the cat scenes here. When it’s all clear, Katniss makes another propo, while a rebel team go in to rescue Peeta.  Beetee manages to block the Capitol’s transmitting devices while the hovercraft can sneak in for the rescue attempt. This is a bit of a boy’s own adventure as it’s all guys  who go on the rescue mission and brave Katniss is left just watching it on screen from the control room of the bunker. Surely she would like to have gone with them…?

Peeta and other rebels are rescued and brought back to District 13 but there is no happy ending for Mockingjay Part 1.  If you are a Hunger Games fan you must see it. It is not quite as good as Catching Fire but as the first part of the movie it’s well structured in terms of plot and setting the scene for the next movie. The Hollywood trend of stretching out a book into two movies is annoying and unnecessary and mainly for commercial benefit in my opinion. But ‘Mockingjay’ made $123 million in it’s first weekend so if they are making movies for huge profits it’s the way to go.

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