As the old saying goes, “War, what is it good for?” Well, if you ask Katniss Everdeen, the answer could very well be “Revolution!” But when you walk into ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1’, you’ll be seeing a whole new side of war that gives a fresh twist on the young adult genre.
Following the events of the Quarter Quell in ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’, Katniss and a few others escaped the arena to join the resistance in District 13 to rally against President Snow and his regime. But not everyone made it out as Peeta, Johanna, and a few other Tributes are still being held in the Capitol as prisoners. Now, it’s up to Katniss to be a symbol for the rebellion as she struggles with fate of her friend and her country.
Compared to the films that came before it, ‘Mockingjay’ delivers a very different tone that almost feels like a different franchise all together, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In a similar fashion to the Harry Potter movies, things got a lot darker for this series, but at times it was funnier too. For instance, there were a few jokes with Prim’s cat that were very enjoyable, plus Katniss’ first propaganda video shoot, but it didn’t take away from the action that we’ve come to expect from Jennifer Lawrence and the gang. In fact, director Francis Lawrence explored a few different sorts of cinematic action in this installment of the series. I got a few hints of ‘Attack the Block’, ‘The Avengers’, and a little bit of James Bond featuring Beetee as Q. It was really cool to see the scope of influence widen in terms of action throughout the film and I appreciated the filmmaker’s willingness to try a few new things so that we didn’t just keep getting the same thing rehashed and repackaged from the film’s predecessors.
The most interesting thing about the movie though was the commentary on modern warfare. Of course there were a number of different advanced technologies applied to weaponry like drones and highly advanced explosives, but media was used as a weapon just as powerful, if not more so. Cressida’s camera crew and Katniss’ wardrobe is presented as being just as important in the rebellion as the fighters are and that brings up a few really interesting questions about the role that these things play in our society. I mean, if you look at the recent commercials for the United States Army, they stress that there are spots for graphic designers and others in similar fields. Does that indicate that we’re closer to utilizing some ‘Mockingjay’ tactics in the real world? It’s hard to say for sure, but it’s an interesting conversation to have.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Gale calling out Katniss. Though I’m not too big on Liam Hemsworth, I loved it when his character mentions that Katniss only gives him attention whenever he’s in pain. To my knowledge, no other young adult franchise has ever called out their star for being problematic and it was a great thing to do. I mean, Katniss has a lot of great qualities, but this shows that she’s flawed, which makes her more accessible to the audience since we’re all flawed too. It’s the same reason why I tell people that I strongly dislike Superman or John Cena: They’re invulnerable. They’re simply too powerful. If your heroes always win and there’s no tension or drama in their stories, then what’s the point of reading or watching them? Complex characters are always preferred.
Earlier this year, I listed ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1’ as one of my most anticipated movies of 2014 after calling ‘The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’ the ‘Empire Strikes Back’ of young adult novel adaptations. Now, I can tell you that I definitely wasn’t disappointed. In fact, my expectations may have even been exceeded and I can’t wait to see the epic conclusion to this story next year.