The highly anticipated film “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” has finally arrived in theaters, and everyone is picking up the pieces after the unexpected events of the Quarter Quell. Katniss Everdeen and two companions were rescued from the arena by a group of rebels loyal to District 13, and brought there to be safe from the Capitol and President Snow. The film covers the first half of the third book in “The Hunger Games” trilogy by Suzanne Collins, and ultimately sets up the final film as an action packed thrill ride that will decide the future of Panem.
The film opens just days after the events of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” with Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) recovering in District 13, although she knows nothing about it. She is introduced to President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) by Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and encourage to join the rebellion as the Mockingjay. However, all Katniss cares about is why she was saved instead of Peeta, since she has no interest in helping the rebels. Coin agrees to let Katniss return to District 12 to see how President Snow destroyed her home.
The endless stream of buildings turned to rubble, smoke everywhere, and reminders of thousands of lives lost is enough to bring Katniss back to the fight. She travels to District 8 in order to film propaganda segments to use against the Capitol and rally the remaining districts together. Armed with her new high tech bow and arrow, Katniss’s very presence begins to inspire people, before the Capitol gets word and sends a fresh round of bombs to the area. The action sequences are well shot, with good camera movement and high energy special effects.
Katniss’s time in the Quarter Quell has taken a toll and she’s not the same emotionally, feeling more responsible and guilty than ever about the future of Panem. Her main goal continues to be to rescue Peeta and the others imprisoned by the Capitol to use as a weapon against her. Jennifer Lawrence’s acting is superb overall, stealing most scenes with either her wit or her uncontrollable emotion from moment to moment. While District 13 keeps their promise to complete a rescue mission, it becomes clear to Katniss that President Snow still has the upper hand even if he no longer has Peeta and the others in custody.
Much of the film is focused on how Katniss needs to embrace her role as the mockingjay to unite the people of Panem. While there are two major action sequences in the film, both necessary for different reasons, the bulk of the story lies in the emotional journey the characters experience when they realize the task of bringing down the Capitol. The two hour film is a long winded set up for “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2,” which will feature a showdown between District 13 and the Capitol now that they know each other exist. This film was all about character development and story advancement, completed in a more convincing way than the book.