16th Mar2015

‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1′ DVD Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Philip Seymour Hoffman , Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland | Written by Peter Craig, Danny Strong | Directed by Francis Lawrence

the-hunger-games-mockingjay-part-1

After the events of Catching Fire and the destruction of the Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) finds herself in District 13, once thought to have been destroyed.  Now a safe haven for the rebels fighting against the oppressive President Snow (Donald Sutherland) they now believe they have a powerful tool for propaganda in the form of the Mockingjay.  Agreeing to be the symbol of the rebellion, Katniss gets caught up in the propaganda battle between the Capitol and District 13, while all the time seeing the effects it has on Snow’s own propaganda symbol the captured Peeta (Josh Hutcherson).

When The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 began I expected a movie that was high on action and the beginning of a war.  What I found instead was a more deliberate and intelligent take on what starts a true rebellion.  Focusing on the powers of propaganda, we see the return of Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) and Effie (Elizabeth Banks).  Working with President Coin (Julianne Moore) to use Katniss to win the hearts of the population of Panem they plan to take down the power of the Capitol.

The way the film shows the propaganda machines doing battle is interesting.  District 13 isn’t just shown as the last bastion of peace, what it shows instead is the same characteristics of President Snow and his regime.  Julianne Moore plays Coin as a sympathetic but hard ruler of the rebels who won’t back down from her one aim and that is the destruction of the Capitol.  The audience is put into the position of Katniss, Jennifer Lawrence is able to make us care for her, understand her need for Peeta and most importantly understand her confusion as to what her role is in the war, she is a person of action not of manipulation, which is what propaganda asks for.  She also isn’t helped by the fact that Gale (Liam Hemsworth) has turned into a total ass with only one objective in mind, to use the legend of the Mockingbird to bring glory to the rebellion he now fights for.

The relationship between Katniss and Peeta is brought into focus in Mockingbird Part 1, and in many ways they are the two public faces of the war.  Both are victims and both are used as propaganda for a war that is yet to fully begin.  The events that take place between the two are what makes the film work and I’ll admit that I enjoyed the choice that had been taken in the plot to take this approach to the story, and the use of propaganda during war.  I can understand if some of the audience didn’t connect with this more subtle approach, but the fact is war isn’t always about guns and blowing things up (though we do get a taste of the action), it is about the hearts and minds of the people who will put their lives at risk for the common cause.  The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is about winning the people over to the sides that are going to be doing battle.  The sides people are going to join is what we’ll have to wait for in the second movie, but the job was definitely done in this one to make people decide.

It’s fair to say that as part one of a two-part finale the groundwork has now been done for a spectacular end to the story of Katniss and Peeta, and the choice to split the last book in he series into two was a good choice.  It will be interesting (and sad) to see how Part 2 will handle the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, who shows just how good an actor he is in this movie and he will definitely be missed.  A surprisingly intelligent start to a war, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 may not have been the action film that some were expecting, but what we have instead is a well thought out examination of the power of propaganda and how it is used in war.  Hopefully the next movie will be as good as this, as I for one loved it.

***** 5/5

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 is out on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek
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