Katniss returns to Mockingjay Part 1


By Abbey Branco, Dartmouth High School

While The Maze Runner (2014) failed to pull through in the world of young adult dystopia, Director Francis Lawrence’s adaptation of Suzanne Collins’s Mockingjay is triumphant.

Carrying on from where Catching Fire (2013) left off, we see the weathered Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) struggle with the depth of her post-traumatic stress in the newly introduced, militaristic stylings of District Thirteen. Since losing one of the many people Katniss has tried to keep safe, Peeta Mellark’s (Josh Hutcherson) capture from the Capitol is wearing down her mental state.

Katniss is seen throughout the nation of Panem as a leader in the newly arisen revolution, despite her reluctance to defy the government when Peeta’s life is at stake. District Thirteen’s leader, Alma Coin (Julianne Moore), is a stoic, analytic woman whose personality matches the coloring of the world she lives in: cold, steel, and grayed. Together with Plutarch Heavensbee (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman), she sets out to create an unstoppable bout of anarchy to overthrow the government.

The cinematography, commanded by Jo Willems (who also worked on Catching Fire) above all else, showed the contrast of storylines as the audiences grappled with each scene. Most of the movie, aside from a few nature shots, is bathed in bursts of blunt grays and blacks. It mirrors the oddly translucent, “pure” captions of life under Capitol rule. In one instance, there is such a vibrant stream of light, it is almost blinding compared to the straight line of darkness. The film itself centers solely on the ideals of the people and the corruption of government officials.

It’s amazing what Francis Lawrence made out of the bland chapters from the last creation in The Hunger Games trilogy. Jennifer Lawrence gave a spine-tingling performance as Katniss from start to finish, and her emotions were raw and left to fester as the “revolution” began to push her. All of the actors in the film are top notch contenders who have either won or been nominated for awards like the Oscars. Even Liam Hemsworth’s portrayal of the brooding Gale Hawthorne was enjoyable to watch. Though the writing was monotonous at times, and strategic at best, the cast pulled through tremendously.

One positive change that the books lack is the viewpoint of those facing the rebellion without the shelter of District Thirteen. The audience is sucked into the differing defiant Districts. With the guidance of Katniss, or as they have coined her, the Mockingjay, they are the underdogs that even some parts of our current world can relate to. Francis Lawrence accurately showed how manipulating a government may be, and how, in the end, hope for justice can prevail over inequality.

The pacing of the film may leave some audiences antsy. The writing dragged in earlier scenes, taking too much time without truly opening up subplots or important information that might be missed by moviegoers who never got around to reading the novel. The dry monologues in the beginning of the film could easily cause the audience to tune out for a moment.

For those who read the book: 8/10 (impressive acting, impeccable shots into the lives of other Districts, some fan favorite scenes removed for time purposes).

For those who didn’t read the book but enjoy dystopian teen drama: 7.5/10 (dragged pacing, interesting plot, dreamy cast).