Wednesday, November 26, 2014


Last night I saw the third The Hunger Games film, Mockingjay - Part 1,with a friend. Here's my review...

The Plot

With the aid of a group of rebels including Capitol dissidents and the people of the long-thought-destroyed District 13, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and some of the other tributes have escaped from the arena. Now they're in hiding in District 13, whose leader Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) plans to lead the rebellious districts in the final war against the decadent Capitol. Coin and Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) plan to make Katniss an iconic figure for the rebellion, but the Capitol has cards to play of its own...

The Good

*I liked how they made District 13 look. There's a giant central shaft and tunnels radiating off in different directions, with bomb shelters below and aircraft hangars at the top. The vibe I got off it was that they were living in a re-purposed missile silo, which given what District 13 produced for the Capitol before the rebellion, makes a lot of sense.

*I like how in the overhead shots of District 13 you can see buildings engulfed by the forests, broken bridges, etc. It shows that the people once lived on the surface and retreated below-ground before Capitol aerial attacks without having to explain it.

*Jennifer Lawrence is a great actress. She does a great job conveying emotions like horror (the ruins of District 12) and blinding, straight-up FURY ("you will burn with us"). Bravo.

*I liked Jennifer Lawrence's rendition of the song "The Hanging Tree." It's apparently one of the most popular songs in the world right now. So in addition to being a talented actress and (from what I've read about her) an awesome person in general, now she's a pop star. :) I need to come up with some folk music for the wider culture of my Wastelands world. Something akin to "The Hanging Tree" would really fit. I've gotten the song off iTunes and I've listened to it a whole bunch of times...

*When they cut from her singing "The Hanging Tree" to District Five rebels marching on the giant dam complex that fuels the Capitol, carrying no weapons to defend themselves but explosives to attack the dam, it shows just how much of a cult icon Katniss is becoming to the people of Panem.

*Per my earlier comment, the scene where Katniss returns to District 12 and finds in absolute ruin, complete with, well, go to this image, is well dramatic and well-done. Especially when you see off to the corner what a surviving dog is doing. TVTropes calls it Scenery Gorn and damn if it isn't effective.

*The propaganda campaign the Capitol wages against the rebellion is actually quite clever. No details for spoiler reasons, but it's something that on the surface makes a lot of sense. It's a testament to human ingenuity and fallibility that the most evil things (like the Capitol's exploitative system) can be made to sound so good. If you want something similarly clever, there's this rumination on the Sith.

*The producers have been criticized in many quarters for splitting the singular Mockingjay novel into two movies, but where they split the book makes sense.

*There are some good moments of humor, many of which revolve around Katniss's sister Prim's cat.

The Bad

*It was a little slow in places. I found myself looking at my watch a couple times. That being said, there weren't any obvious places where material could be cut.

*It would have been good to see the Capitol bombers attacking District 13. Although there are good, dramatic reasons to focus on Katniss, her mother, and her sister hiding in the bunkers while dust falls from the ceiling, it would have been cool to intersperse those scenes with images of Capitol aircraft engaging District 13's air defenses.

The Verdict

Go see it. 9.0 out of 10.

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