By Carolyn Perlmutter | News Editor
The third installment of the Hunger Games series, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1, was released Friday, Nov. 21. Mockingjay Part 1 earned $82 million during its opening weekend.
In this movie, Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is forced to move past the lingering trauma and consequences of her second Hunger Games. Mockingjay Part 1 picks up where Catching Fire left off and follows Katniss as she decides to take a greater role in the rebellion against the Capitol. The movie is set primarily in the underground District 13 where their citizens have been hiding, awaiting an opportunity to strike back at the Capitol.
Like Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows and Breaking Dawn, Suzanne Collins’ best-selling novel Mockingjay was split into two movies. This decision was motivated by a desire to generate more revenue rather than a real need for two feature-length films to properly tell the story. Since both the previous movies in the series featured the Hunger Games, they were action-packed. Mockingjay Part 1, however, lacks this element, which the audience has grown accustomed to.
Instead, Mockingjay Part 1 focuses more on war, propaganda and the social structure of the society that has prompted the rebellion. Director Francis Lawrence still manages to captivate the audience as he focuses on Katniss’ psychological reactions to war.
A highlight of the film is Jennifer Lawrence’s singing of the original song The Hanging Tree with lyrics by Suzanne Collins and a melody written by The Lumineers. This song sets an emotional tone with its haunting lyrics.
Co-star Liam Hemsworth, who plays Gale, has a more substantial role in this film as he and Katniss fight together in the rebellion. Meanwhile, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) was left behind in the Capitol at the end of Catching Fire and is featured in just a few scenes.
Returning to the big screen are Donald Sutherland as President Snow, Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee. Haymitch and Effie provide comic relief as the restrictions of District 13 force them to drastically change their lifestyles.
The movie also introduces several new characters from District 13, including Julianne Moore as rebel President Coin.
Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance was particularly powerful in the context of his recent death before completing filming for Mockingjay Part 2.
Overall the movie lived up to expectations despite the frustration fans will experience as they wait yet another year for the conclusion of the Hunger Games series.