The wait for the most anticipated film of the year is over as part 1 of the epic 2-part finale to The Hunger Games franchise has landed - straight from District 13 itself - and it's on fire. Let's talk about it.
Jennifer Lawrence returns, once again, as Katniss Everdeen. Except, this time around, there are no more games. Civilisation: gone. District 12: gone. Peeta: gone. With the system now corrupted, Miss Everdeen stands as the Mockingjay - leading a rebellion against the Capitol... and President Snow doesn't like it.
Following YA adaption tradition, Lionsgate have split the final book in Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games trilogy of novels into two films. Whilst this can be viewed as an unpopular decision, perhaps looked at as a money grab, it's hard to deny the fact that Mockingjay Part 1 is a good film. It's probably the best The Hunger Games film we've had. It also means we can get as much as possible from the story.
Picking up from where last year's Catching Fire left off, Mockingjay Part 1 follows a bewildered and frightened Katniss Everdeen waking up in the depths of the thought to be lost District 13. Unable to wrap her head around the recent events, she fails to understand Head Gamemaker Plutarch's plan and explanation of the Peeta's sacrifice and Katniss' role in the rebellion.
As time begins to run out, District 13's president begins to question misplaced faith in their Mockingjay. However, after a trip to the obliterated, scarred remains of District 12 Katniss begins to piece the puzzle together and as her revenge upon President Snow starts to phase in and heat up our Mockingjay takes flight.
I LOVED this movie. Now, I don't know whether it's my die-hard The Hunger Games fanboy insticts kicking in or what but this was not only a glorious build-up to next year's EPIC finale but it was just a FRICKING awesome film in general. This was my most anticipated film of the year and I know you're all thinking that I'm praising it for that reason but I'm not, it's actually good.
Catching Fire director Francis Lawrence returns to the helm and this is unlike any of the previous two films. It's darker, more mature and just visually it's a completely new take on what we've been used to seeing with The Hunger Games - taking place in the darker, more plain halls of the underground District 13. Of course pressure falls on Francis to make a film just as good, if not better than its predecessors, despite the actual titular games being absent, by really driving the story and character development.
I give him a lot of credit for that too as he manages to pull it off. He captures and retains the audiences attention, keeping us engaged from the start to finish. From Collins' novels, it's fair to say that Mockingjay was the worst. It wasn't bad but it just wasn't as good, in comparison, to what came before. This will raise doubts as to what the film is like - I even doubted it - but Francis manages to keep you excited; you're never left bored as you're always given something to think about.As far as the story itself goes, if you've read the novels then you pretty much know what to expect as another great thing Francis does is stick to the source material very well. However, the film does sidetrack from the book a little and there are lots of surprises for even those of you who know Collins' final novel inside and out, which I think is good as it keeps the film fresh and unique - even for those that are familiar with the plot.
The acting in this is the best I've ever seen in a Hunger Games film. Everyone is flawless. Liam Hemsworth has a larger role in this, as Katniss' friend-zoned lover Gale (don't worry mate, I know how it feels) and he stuns. Elizabeth Banks is, well, normal and Woody Harrelson, Sam Claflin, Jeffrey Wright also give notable performances. Donald Sutherland is exceptional as the evil Snow. You hate him yet you're rooting for him; that's how well acted he is. Josh Hutcherson, too, is rather splendid as our Hijacked Peeta. Just seeing him broken on-screen floods you with fear and emotions (dear fangirls, get ready for tears).
Massive kudos go to all the newcomers too, especially Julianne Moore as President Coin and Natalie Dormer as Cressida. Joining the current biggest franchise in the world today, and so late on, can be difficult and quite frightening but they both are stunning and knock it out the park with their brilliant performances.
All the acting is fine. Of course, though, all eyes are on Jennifer Lawrence, who steals the show. She is simply MAGNIFICENT as Katniss! This is easily one of her best performances to date and could very easily be an Oscar contender - if only YA films were nominated. She's just so mesmerising and you can't help but love her! This is why she's the biggest actress working today!
There's a particularly shaking scene in which Katniss sings a well-known song - The Hanging Tree - across the districts, to the accompaniment of a real Mockingjay singing. It's a poignant, moving scene and Lawrence sings so beautifully. You can also look into her eyes and see the pain, the emotions, the fear that is all haunting Katniss. You really empathise with her and worry for her every step in the journey. She demands your attention! Now, that's what you call acting.
This film, honestly, surpassed any expectations I had of it and it blew me away. It's moving, visually stunning and pretty near perfect. My only complaint is the ending. I've never been too fond of this whole idea of splitting the final novel in a series into two movies but it just keeps happening and happening with all the young-adult adaptions that release nowadays.
Mockingjay Part 1 just ends too abruptly and, whether you've read the book or not, when you leave, you feels like you've only seen half a film (which, ultimately, you have). The ending itself isn't much of a cliffhanger but it does make you want Part 2 to just hurry the hell up and arrive already. I think, since I know what's coming (and how freaking epic it's going to be) I enjoyed it more. If you only known The Hunger Games because of the films then fair enough but you won't know what we're in-store for next November so that feeling when the credits roll isn't as energetic and exciting!
Of course, I can cut Lionsgate some slack as I do understand why they made the decision to seperate the film into two. It means fans can get the most from the franchise and it also means that the films are around for a little longer too. I mean, I don't want The Hunger Games films to stop, I love them too much to leave them. I'm kind of glad we have ONE more outing left. Honestly, Mockingjay Part 2 is, now, probably, my most anticipated film of 2015. We're at the part where the novel REALLY gets good and the war actually comes into place. It's going to be awesome!
Bring on The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2. I'm excited!
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is a powerful, compelling film that revels in glory as Jennifer Lawrence takes things to a whole new level of spectacular.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 opens on November 20th, 2014.
Check out our Mockingjay playlist below, including our video review and cast interviews:
About the Author
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.