The third instalment of the Hunger Games films shifts the entire franchise onto a whole other playing field. We’re no longer talking about a Peeta-Katniss-Gale love triangle or some shaky, guerrilla style footage of kids murdering other kids.
Mockingjay Part 1 reveals delves much deeper into the sinister, brutal element of war, setting it apart from many other Young Adult franchises. While there are some witty jibes, a few sporadic comical lines of dialogue and a dash of romance, it’s absolutely thrilling to see this film take a darker turn and establish the framework for Part 2 to be an epic war film.
Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games trilogy, said in an interview that the idea for her books came from watching television and flicking between stations of reality TV and actual war coverage. It’s clear that Mockingjay Part 1 aligns much more closely with the latter than the first two films in the franchise.
With confronting execution scenes, bombings, references to prostitution and torture, the violence that is evident within the pages of the novel hasn’t been toned down for a younger film audience.
We see people kneeling with bags covering their heads, shot point-blank in front of a crowd of onlookers, we see rows of dead, rotting corpses in a makeshift Hospital in District 8 and we see our Tributes Peeta and Joanna looking gaunt, bloody and beaten after being held captive by the Capitol.
The intensity of this film is almost palpable, which is why splitting the novel into two films is an ingenious decision. Yes, Part 1 had scenes that felt sluggish and drawn out but it has set the framework for Part 2 so well, that we’re willing to forgive such minor misgivings.
Undoubtedly though, this will pleasantly impress mega fans of the novels because it means that barely any scenes from the book were culled from the script.
We get to see Finnick and Annie’s achingly beautiful reunion, the inclusion of Effie into the plot despite her absence from the entire Mockingjay novel and a transformation within Katniss that doesn’t feel remotely forced or rushed.
The filmmakers had time to show Katniss’ hesitation, reluctance, fear and finally, acceptance of becoming the Mockingjay and this cycle is definitely a testament to Jennifer Lawrence’s acting skills. When she delivered the first propaganda speech in District 8, the extraordinary emotion and energy produced an atmosphere of intensity that just elevated the entire film.
It continuously builds and then we’re left with a cliffhanger and forced to wait another 365 days to see the Rebels finally make their move against the Capitol in Mockingjay Part 2. It’s incredibly frustrating but like I said, an ingenious marketing move. Touché Lionsgate.