The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 marks the beginning of the end for The Hunger Games series. While it delivers several satisfyingly dark and intense moments, the film does not quite live up to expectations. In particular, I took issue with where the film placed the majority of its focus: on the development of Katniss into the symbol of “The Mockingjay.”
They chose to center on this rather than on the growing political unrest. Paralleling and building upon themes from the prior two films, the narration of Katniss’s evolution into an icon for the rebels definitely made for an interesting plot, but I wish it had been better executed.
For the particularly slow first half of the film, the emphasis was more on Katniss’s filming of revolutionary propaganda than on the rebellion itself. The characters spent more time talking about revolution than they did actually fighting one.
As the film progressed, however, it became apparent that “The Mockingjay” had a real effect on the districts’ resistance of The Capitol—though such events did not get much screen time. A greater focus on the revolution itself would have helped to give more context and significance to Katniss’s development into such a symbol. The few scenes that did depict true uprisings were some of the most interesting and intense in the whole movie.
Something else that stuck out was the “young adult” romantic drama, which didn’t seem as complementary as it should have been to the rest of the story. Katniss’s feelings of anger and guilt over leaving Peeta behind in the previous film felt particularly out of place. Something the prior Hunger Games movie succeeded in was making the romance a more integrated and non-diverting part of the overall story, but that was not the case in this latest installment.
Katniss often seemed unnecessarily immature and shortsighted, letting her feelings for Peeta cloud her judgment when there was obviously a much bigger picture. It was understandable for her to feel some degree of apprehension or anxiety, but these feelings often impeded the flow of the film.
In general, far too much time was dedicated to Katniss coming to terms with her romantic feelings––whether they were for Peeta or for Gale. While Mockingjay never quite sank to the over-the-top lows of the Twilight franchise, these moments were melodramatic and distracting all the same.
As the penultimate entry in the series, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 advanced the plot in interesting ways. As the franchise heads into its concluding chapter, however, I can’t help but wish for more of a focus on the impending showdown with The Capitol.
Hopefully, Katniss’s role as “The Mockingjay” and her relationship struggles will be better integrated with the more far-reaching events of the revolution in Mockingjay, Part 2.