Theater Thursdays are all about the movies. Out of theaters or in, it’s here.
Welcome to the first Theater Thursday! Today, we’re talking about Mockingjay Part 1. I went to see this yesterday, and the theater was almost empty. I only counted nine people other than me. However, there were still ten showings. Hey, I can live with that. Mostly empty room, lots of showings. I like it.
(Full synopsis and spoilers ahead.)
The movie starts out with a really weird intro. We see Katniss hiding in a vent in District 13, where she’s quickly found, sedated, and then wakes up in the hospital. The first few minutes felt very much like a TV show, where you have a two to three minute opening scene, and then the title credits roll. (Which they did, just without the credits. The title of the movie came up, however.)
Katniss is called to see President Coin and Plutarch Heavensbee, who explain what happened in the arena and want Katniss to become the face of the rebellion. After Katniss yells a bit about them leaving Peeta behind, Coin begins to have second thoughts about having Katniss be the Mockingjay. Plutarch essentially tells her that Katniss will come around eventually, once she redirects her anger towards the Capitol. On a side note, I have to admit I liked Julianne Moore’s portrayal of Coin in this movie – we’ll see if it continues into part 2.
President Snow then addresses the nation and executes a bunch of people simultaneously across the districts. Bad day to be in the rebellion.
Katniss demands to be taken to District 12, which Coin is iffy on and Plutarch fully supports. While she’s there, she gets her sister’s cat and some personal belongings. She also breaks down after stepping on a skull and seeing a bunch of skeletons. While we’re talking about this, I did not like Katniss nearly as much in this movie. She had a few good moments, but she ended up in tears a lot. I know she’s had a bad two years of it, with the Games and all, but I still feel like she should have picked up some resilience along the way, even fake resilience in the form of shutting off her emotions a bit. I don’t remember her breaking down this much in the books. However, I can’t fault Jennifer Lawrence’s performance – she’s fallen into the role quite well, and her performance seems less forced than in the first movie. That’s just my opinion, however.
Back in 13, the Capitol is broadcasting a interview between Peeta and Caesar Flickerman. Peeta, looking a bit haggard, but still fairly okay, calls for a cease-fire, resulting in District 13 hating him… a lot. Almost immediately, Katniss goes to Coin, agreeing to be the Mockingjay, assuming they fulfill some conditions. Namely, that Peeta and the other victors will be rescued from the Capitol and given full pardons at the first possible opportunity. Coin isn’t thrilled with that, insisting that Peeta stand trial for his betrayal, but eventually agrees on the condition that Katniss provides results. Oh, and the cat stays. “I’ll be the Mockingjay, the public face of your rebellion. But Prim keeps her cat.”
Katniss begins filming propaganda for the rebellion, but Katniss can’t act convincingly. We get several really bad line deliverances, at which point Haymitch intervenes in his first appearance in this movie. I was starting to wonder if he was going to show up. I like Haymitch.
Haymitch points out that Katniss works best in unplanned, real-life scenarios, so, after a Mockingjay outfit and bow upgrade, Katniss and her new film crew head to District 8 to visit a hospital of wounded civilians. Snow then orders the hospital bombed, simply because Katniss showed up. I know we’re not supposed to like the guy, but that’s just cruel.
Katniss delivers a fairly epic speech (though not as epic as Aragorn in Return of the King) upon seeing the wreckage of the hospital, which is then turned into a fairly awesome propaganda video. A short while later, Katniss returns to District 12 with Gale and the film crew, where Gale tells the story of the bombing of District 12. They eventually end up by a lake, where a flock of mockingjays reside. After being prompted to sing, Katniss is filmed while singing “The Hanging Tree,” which is a really depressing but awesome song. It’s broadcast across the nation, and it becomes the official protest song of the rebellion.
An entire squadron of Peacekeepers is wiped out by rebels in District 7 (those Peacekeepers never had a chance), and another group takes out a dam providing power to the Capitol. Go rebels!
Peeta comes back on air with another interview, looking absolutely terrible. Those of us who have read the books know he’s being tortured and brainwashed, which is also revealed at the end of the movie. He sees the footage of Katniss that District 13 is interrupting the broadcast with, and warns the District that planes are flying their way. Coin calls for a evacuation, in which everyone survives, even though Prim went back for her cat and Gale barely made it inside. This was a moment of fake tension, as book fans know they do not die at this time. Coin is also thankful for Peeta’s warning, as it gave them an extra eight minutes to get everyone out.
Katniss breaks down yet again upon seeing the white roses dropped after the bombing, and refuses to film anymore, afraid that Snow is going to kill Peeta. Finnick takes her place, talking about his life after the Games in which he learned many secrets. Most interesting at this time is that Snow came to power through systematic poisoning of any threats to his rule. During this broadcast, a group of six volunteers, including Gale and Boggs, the general of District 13, initiate a rescue mission to get Peeta, Annie (Finnick’s girlfriend) and Johanna Mason out of the Capitol. However, President Snow knew they were there, and lets them leave, which seems odd until you realize he’s had Peeta brainwashed into wanting to kill Katniss. Peeta proceeds to attempt just that, badly injuring Katniss before Boggs knocks him out.
When Katniss wakes up, Peeta’s brainwashing is explained to her and us, the audience. In the last few moments of the movie, Coin addresses District 13, rallying them for war, and Katniss sneaks into the facility where Peeta is being kept, only to see him in solitary confinement, screaming and going completely crazy.
The movie then ends, leaving us with a fairly terrible ending.
Really, the movie should have been condensed into just one part, not two. Take the extra 45 minutes/hour and make it one part. I’ll sit through it. However, splitting the last book of a series into two parts is apparently a thing these days, so…
In terms of quality and storytelling, the movie stays fairly fast-paced throughout. I didn’t feel like it dragged along, unlike the second movie. I also noticed far less shaky camera movement, also unlike the first movie. However, this was most definitely a filler movie.
In terms of content, this was actually a bit less gory than the previous films. It had some intense moments, and lots of violence, but it was less graphic. I don’t recall any profanity either. I’d still recommend it for 13 and up, as you’re going to have to watch the first two movies first.
In terms of the characters/acting, I think the acting was far better than in the previous films. I think the shining star of this film was Julianne Moore. I still hold reservations about Katniss breaking down so much.
Overall, I’d give this movie a 8.5/10. It was a filler movie, but I still enjoyed the story, and the cinematography felt better than previous films. I’m definitely looking forward to Part 2.
Plus, sober Haymitch was just as awesome as drunk Haymitch.