After defying the government in a public display that destroyed the Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and her friends have spurred a rebellion in the districts.
Now the government of Panem is cracking down on rebels and has as their spokesperson, their prisoner Peeta (Josh Hutcherson).
Katniss lives underground with what is left of Districts 12 and 13, the headquarters of the resistance and residence of their leader, President Coin (Julianne Moore). Katniss agrees to be their Mockingjay, a symbol of the resistance and to be used in propaganda to spur on the rebellion, in return for the rescue and pardon of Peeta, as well as the others.
Will Peeta and the others be rescued? Does Peeta really believe what he’s saying on TV? Can the rebellion even make a difference against the powerful government?
We say, “Number 3 is the best Hunger Games movie, so far.”
HOWE: Now we are getting to the real meat of this story. What they should have done is condensed the first two installments into one. The second film is entirely a rerun of the first film, only slightly better. This would have made the series a trilogy instead and the story would have benefited.
By the time we get to the final part, I will have forgotten all about this one and spend the first 15 minutes scratching my head trying to figure out what the hell is going on just like the beginning of this one.
TAYLOR: As the film started, I thought the same thing, “Damn, what happened at the end of the last one?” Luckily, within the first 10 or 15 minutes, the characters remind you of what happened last time.
The first thing I really liked about Mockingjay – Part 1 is that it is a behind-the-scenes glimpse of an underground rebellion. Sure, it doesn’t answer a lot of questions, like: “Where did they get all this equipment, bombs and airplanes?” But, it does explain a lot about the changing of people’s minds, in order to create a warlike intentionality. The second aspect I liked, which is a major part of why this film works so well, is that our heroine Katniss has been put in a situation she feels passionate about. These emotions come through in Lawrence’s performance. She’s no longer just trying to survive the games, tricking the system into a more viable workaround, Katniss is now a soldier, a leader. She’s kicking butt and taking names.
HOWE: It wasn’t just Lawrence’s performance that was good. There were some other strong roles from Liam Hemsworth, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman.
The thing that I really liked about this film was the battle scenes and I hope they continue that into the final chapter. It felt like a 16th or 17th century storming of a castle in some of the scenarios and I liked that rather than futuristic planes or machines fighting the battles, as these scenarios are 10 a penny these days.
TAYLOR: I agree. I was actually moved several times by this film and considering I was dreading going into it, because I’m tired of these types of films, Mockingjay – Part 1 wins.
HOWE: So I guess you are looking forward to Divergent 2: Insurgent then next year?
–Howe gives The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 4 cans of cat food out of 5.
–Taylor gives it 4 old teenagers out of 5.
Peter Howe and Brian Taylor are film reviewers based in Vernon, B.C. Their column, Reel Reviews, appears in The Morning Star Friday and Sunday.