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Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 – A Review

Here comes a brand-new movie review! Beware of spoilers (seriously)!

I had anticipated the new Hunger Games instalment for ages and yesterday it finally premiered in the UK. Mockingjay Part 1 has quite a different tonality than the previous two films – most significantly, it is no longer about the Hunger Games but about the revolution and rising civil war against the Capitol. The focus is on Katniss as a character (played by Jennifer Lawrence), illustrating how drastically the games and especially the loss of Peeta changed her. She struggles with nightmares and often questions her ability to keep fighting and to do what is necessary.

Her sister, Prim, gets some more attention in this movie, too. She has grown from being a helpless child to being a strong young woman training to become a doctor. I sometimes had the feeling that the relationship between the two sisters has become a lot more balanced. While in the first movie Katniss had to protect Prim from harm, they now protect each other – Prim is invaluable emotional support for Katniss in Mockingjay Part 1.

I loved the portrayal of Effie Trinket (mainly because Elizabeth Banks is just amazing). She sees herself as a prisoner of war and seems to have lost her spirit. But she gradually adapts to her new lifestyle, as can be seen through her increasingly more bold and fashionable outfits (though not colourful anymore, she wears a headband in various styles, using what she can to maintain her individuality). She becomes Katniss’s prep team, taking over Cinna’s job.

Finnick has also impressed me. He forms a bond with Katniss sharing the pain of losing a loved one to the Capitol and they help each other stay sane. I really enjoyed their friendship growing stronger and look forward to what comes next (I know of course, but I’m not gonna spoil this).

Peeta mostly appeared in television scenes, and although he didn’t have as much screen time, I felt he was always present and his deterioration was quite frightening. I personally felt that the connection he and Katniss have was stronger over the distance than the connection between Gale and Katniss, even though they are in the same place (I’m obviously on Team Peeta, but I heard there are some people out there on Team Gale 😉 ).

Some new characters have been introduced as well, President Coin for one and the camera team with Castor, Pollux, Messalla and Cressida (played by the lovely Natalie Dormer!) . I hope they will become even more important in the next movie.

The special effects and action scenes were well executed and thankfully not too pronounced in the movie. The focus was more on the propaganda and revolution and less on the action. While the overall tone was quite grim and emotionally draining, there were some sparks of humour, mostly coming from Effie Trinket.

In conclusion, this movie kept me perched on the edge of my seat, anticipating what would happen and being emotionally swept away – even though I already knew the story, it was still very exciting. I personally try to keep the novels and the movies apart from each other – since the movie version is completely different from my own imagined visions. My pictured version of the story is weirdly enough a lot lighter than the movies.

Anyways, I recommend the movie to everyone who has read the books because it gives a different view on things and of course also to people who enjoy dystopian, war, fantasy or sci-fi settings. The movie is rated as suitable for 12 years and older. I personally do not agree and would not let anybody younger than 14 see this. Not so much because of the action scenes but more because of the emotional trauma portrayed in most characters – Katniss, Finnick and Peeta especially. It takes a certain level of emotional maturity to understand everything that is going on in that story.

Also, as a side remark, I was very sad to hear that Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away during the filming. He played Plutarch Heavensbee – a relevant character whose story will have to change now. He was an amazing actor and will be remembered.

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