Review: “Mockingjay Part 1” pleasing if not comparing movie to book

Review:  “Mockingjay Part 1” pleasing if not comparing movie to book

Allegra H.

Katniss Everdeen, The Girl On Fire, has once again sparked interest in the lives of book lovers and movie-goers alike with the second to last installment of the “Hunger Games” trilogy. Although the movie definitely diverged from the book in some areas, “Mockingjay Part 1” brought new life to a well-loved book and is a must see for all “Hunger Games” fans.

Directed by Francis Lawrence (also the director of “Catching Fire”), “Mockingjay Part 1” starts with Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence, who is not related to the director) hiding in District 13. She begins counseling herself by recalling the facts she knows are true, like her name and home, then works toward more difficult information, such as Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) being held prisoner at the Capitol. She does this until members of 13 find her and force her back into her drug-induced sleep.

Thankfully, unlike the book, Katniss doesn’t spend the majority of the movie drugged and emotionally unstable. Rather, the movie portrays most of the important scenes from the book while leaving out details that readers will recognize.

“Mockingjay Part 1” resumes with District 13’s leader, President Coin (Julianne Moore), and previous Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee (played by the recently deceased Philip Hoffman) wanting Katniss to fulfill her role as the Mockingjay and lead the revolution against the Capitol. Eventually, after her list of demands are met, Katniss agrees and is assigned a team to help her act and look the part of the Mockingjay.

From there, Katniss begins filming propaganda videos to inspire the districts to revolt against the Capitol. In the same way, Peeta is being used by the Capitol to demand peace and submission to deter people from joining the fight. All the while President Snow (Donald Sutherland) is devising ways to end Katniss and the revolution.

The movie ends with a twist for non-readers and some semblance of a resolution to the movie (which is more than what “Catching Fire” did). Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and a team of District 13 volunteers save Peeta and other imprisoned victors from the Capitol while President Coin plans District 13’s eventual revolution, which will play as a nice transition into “Mockingjay Part 2.”

Overall, the movie was compelling, filled with futuristic devices, realistic acting, and enough explosions for any pre-teen boy to say an elongated, “Awwwesome!” Additionally, instead of just leaving you the signature Hunger Games whistle to mimic, the song “The Hanging Tree” provides a new, somewhat morbid Hunger Games tune to help incessantly bother your family.

Even though I enjoyed the movie, I was annoyed by some of the changes that were made. Unlike the book, President Coin is not overtly painted as a possible evil threat to Katniss, and almost all factors that would have made her seem like a bad guy were thrown out.

For example, Flavius, Venia and Octavia (members of Katniss’s beauty crew for the Hunger Games) weren’t tortured or held as prisoners in District 13. In fact, they weren’t even included. Instead of having Katniss’s actual beauty team help her become the Mockingjay, Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), who is assumed to be dead in the book, helped her make the transition.

Beyond that there were small differences from the book that they decided to omit, add, or change just for the heck of it. One of these happens to be the omission of the purple schedules that are stamped on District 13 citizen’s arms every day to show how structured and strict District 13 is with its time and resources.

What I can say is if you go into this movie without expecting the book, you will be impressed by how similar the two are. But, if you’re a sucker for accurate book portrayals, then you will be disappointed by how different the movie is.

All of my idiosyncratic irritations aside, “Mockingjay Part 1” is a thrilling, action-packed movie that I would recommend seeing.

“Mockingjay Part 1” is rated PG-13.