hungergamesjay
release date: 21 November 2014 (Canada)
run time: 123 mins
rating: PG
considered: Adventure, Sci-Fi
director: Francis Lawrence
starring: Jennifer Laurence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Elizabeth Banks, Jena Malone, Woody Harrelson, Willow Shields, Sam Claflin, Mahershala Ali, Jeffrey Wright, Paula Malcomson, Stanley Tucci 

movie summary: Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is the girl on fire. She is the Mockingjay, the leader of District 13’s rebellion against the Capital of Panem. Katniss was chosen for this role because of her ability to defy the odds and survive the 73rd and 74th Hunger Games, much to the disappoint of President Snow (Donald Sutherland). After volunteering to enter the games in the place of her sister, Katniss fell in love with her fellow District 12 Tribune, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutchinson). When the last games ended Katniss was rescued by Plutarch Heavensbee (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) and President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore). They pulled her out at a critical moment when she was trying to save Peeta’s life and is furious that he has been kidnapped by President Snow and now being held hostage. 

There are not many nights that Katniss gets enough sleep to recover from the physical and psychological scars of the games. Her heart and mind are always thinking of Peeta and the experiences they have been through together. As one of the highest ranking officers with the army of District 13, Gail Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) is still by her side. He helps Katniss adapt to the underground world of the forgotten district with her sister Primrose (Willow Shields) and her mom as well as Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) and Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson). Plutarch has built up Katniss’ abilities and capabilities to President Coin for some time but at first glance Katniss has lost all of her fire and passion to challenge the Capital. She only cares about Peeta’s well-being and doesn’t care that all 12 districts have been bombed and millions upon millions have died. In an attempt to reignite her desire to defy authority, Katniss is flown to the remains of District 12 to learn that only 900 people survived. While standing on a pile of rocks that used to be the Hall of Justice, she can see the piles of bones from the massive slaughter which forces her to tears. When she returns to the underground she agrees to be the Mockingjay on one condition, they rescue Peeta as soon as possible.

Plutarch loves that Katniss is on board with the start of rebellion and begins to film her for campaign videos. While visiting survivors and wounded people in District 8, President Snow gets word that she is there and launches an all out assault to kill her. After Gail and Katniss survive the attack, she can only stand there and watch the flames rise as the people she cares about die. She vows revenge for this attack, which excites Plutarch and President Coin because Katniss is turning into the leader they need. The Capital has a few tricks up their sleeve and continue to broadcast videos of Peeta begging and pleading with the Districts to put down their weapons and form a peace agreement. President Snow knows that Katniss is watching and will want to do whatever she can to save him. She watches in horror every time Peeta is on TV and takes her team to District 12 to relax and unwind from all the life stress she’s currently experiencing.

A group of survivors from District 7 decide to blow up the Capital city dam forcing the whole city to lose power which will allow tech wizard Beetee (Jeffrey Wright) to hack into their security systems to find Peeta. To retaliate for the attack, President Snow launches an all out bomb assault on District 13 forcing everyone 40 stories deep into the ground. The plan is to wait the bombing out which completely destroys everything above ground. President Coin decides to launch a secret mission, led by Gail, into the Capital to rescue Peeta and the other victors with hopes that could turn the tide in the war. Katniss doesn’t know what to do, say, or feel because she wants Peeta by her side but is really concerned about Gail’s safety.

The mission is successful getting into the city and into the tribute centre but the power is returned leaving the team in harm’s way. In an attempt to distract President Snow, Katniss sends him a video message only to find out he knows about everything and allows the team to return home without getting gunned down. He laughs when he disconnects because Katniss and the rest of the people in District 13 will be in a wild surprise when Gail returns with Peeta.

hungergamesjay2

my thoughts: In 2012 anyone who knew me knew that I had zero interest in The Hunger Games. I wasn’t a fan of Jennifer Lawrence (which has since changed) and thought the first movie looked stupid. After three weeks I watched it at the theatre and was correct with my initial assessment of how it was not a great movie . Then last year when Catching Fire hit theatres I was there on opening night and became a fan of the franchise after that action-packed sequel. (I bought the books for Christmas and plan to read them after I watch the final movie.) Heading into the final two movies I have no clue how things end for Katniss and the gang but I see the general direction this story is going. Lucky for the franchise there is another movie because as excited as I was for Mockingjay Part 1, I left the theatre last night more upset and feel that they may have lost me as a fan all over again. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am still excited for Mockingjay Part II next year, but wow do I feel mislead from all the hype of this movie. I took a moment away from this review to re watch the trailer and have come to realize they built up Mockingjay to be something it is not. There is no real epic fight scenes and if memory serves correct, Katniss is in danger twice through out the whole movie. The first time is when a bomb raid hits district 8 and then when the planes descend upon district 13, but even then she’s 40 stories deep into earth and is not in the line of direct fire. Almost every other scene in the movie she is crying about not being able to rescue her true love, Peeta, who is being held hostage. I find it hard to get behind a leader that is supposed to overthrow the entire government when she can’t even keep her emotions in check. Whenever Panem shows a Peeta interview, Katniss will drop whatever it is she is doing to cry and stare at the screen. Even with her best friend Gail, sister Prim, and mom all at her side she refuses to think about anyone else. The love part of the story takes away from the build up of the District 13 army…I mean the lack of build up that isn’t really happening. Katniss is paraded through a few districts to shoot video messages but doesn’t engage in any battles. There are no armies and only about seven soldiers actually work with her when she goes out of the district. She survived The Hunger Games twice and now is just a poster girl who is meant to the Capital into submission. The fact that she is so mentally unstable is a problem that no one seems to understand or try to deal with, and I’m not sure whether or not this will backfire on them at some point.

In an attempt to build up the story about a war to end all wars, both sides take every opportunity they can to plant a seed of doubt in the other leader’s mind. There are so many mixed and secret messages floating through the air waves, all which are meant to inspire hope, change, and bloodshed. When I think of the Hunger Games, I think of violent things, like bad things happening to good people and high body counts. We get the high body counts but none of it is actually shown. Donald Sutherland is fantastic as the greasy leader of Panem who isn’t afraid to pull the trigger on anyone who dares challenge his authority, all the meanwhile singing and praising hope and peace. He’s been in power for so long he knows exactly how to push everyone’s buttons to get them to conform to the way he wants them to be. President Snow is the exact opposite of Katniss which makes him a great opponent for her to try to defeat…someday.

Some people will praise this movie for the outstanding character development but seriously this movie was not needed and could have been summed up in the beginning of a the next movie. I’m actually gonna sum it up right here, “Katniss is sad, she joins the rebel cause, then vows revenge, misses Peeta, watches him get rescued, then deals with the fall out of his rescue.” The fact that the studios dragged out a 390 page book into two – two-hour movies to rake us for more money is kind of insulting. Other reviewers are more happy with the results of Mockingjay Part I because it tells an important part of the story and sets us up for a grand finale. I don’t quite agree with those people because I am no longer excited for the outcome after being lead to believe this would be a fantastic movie, only to be let down with this one.

my final thoughts: Love it or hate it, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I disappointed me and left a sour taste in my mouth. Fans who adore Katniss will love this movie because it is all about her, much like New Moon is all about Bella Swan. Be aware that this third installment lacks all the action and death-defying thrills from the previous films which may turn some of you away. Also don’t be shocked when the movie teases you an ending only to have it end on an extremely weird note. 

my star rating: 4 out 10

imdb: 7.5 out 10 
metascore: 63/100 
rottentomatoes: 68% out 100% 
rogerebert: 2.5 out 4

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