Katniss Everdeen returned to our screens last week in the third installment of the Hunger Games franchise. Was this return to the sound of applause though, or disappointment? Did the latest installment live up to expectations and the months of hype?
Dedicated fans flocked to cinemas for the 12am showings on Thursday morning. I didn’t get into that crowd, preferring instead to wait the extra 20 hours or so, after which I could drag along classmates to sit through my two hour critique of the movie.
Like many people, I saw the first and second parts of the franchise before shoving my nose into the book series. Halfway through the second book, I was hooked and decided the books were already better without even seeing the full movie series yet.
Mockingjay: Part 1 was a slight let-down though. Initially it was good for what it was: an adaptation. The graphics were great and being quite smitten with Jennifer Lawrence myself, I was admittedly biased where her acting abilities are concerned. Being as objective as I can be though, I’ll admit it was an appropriately high standard of acting.
We all know Jen is a very different character to the often irritating Ms Everdeen - This can only mean the acting was top quality. As for Katniss though, I found myself wanting her to just cease being on occasions throughout the film. I hate to spoil this for people but yes, Katniss is just as annoying, emotionless and, put simply, whingey as she was in the previous two Hunger Games movies.
Having read the books, I should have really expected this, but hoped the other elements of the movie would save it and tone down some of Katniss’s annoying habits. They did, to some extent, but at points I found myself on the verge of shouting in the packed cinema: “Grow up and stop being so bloody dull.”
At one stage I began counting the amount of times the character cried and blubbered hopelessly into someone’s chest - The count was uncomfortably high by the end.
In many cases though the other characters made up for Katniss’s poor showing. The most redeeming quality of the entire 2 hours however was a perfectly executed and emotive scene, played to a backdrop of song. Considering the current political situation in Ireland at the moment, the scene really did get me riled up and ready to scream a few chants on the street myself.
If, like me, you have read the books through to the end, you will also probably understand the unfortunate habit I had during the movie of repeatedly thinking: “Yeah, you’re going to die so just don’t bother.” I mean, many of us do know which characters will be brushed off the screen, as they were in the books, and that brings a certain level of satisfaction to the clued-in viewer.
Another issue which I have noticed is that people are seemingly bothered by the splitting of the third book, Mockingjay, into a two part movie installment. I actually think this was the prefect move by producers. The book, although having a similar page-count as the other two, is much denser and would only be undermined if the strict one-book, one-movie standard was adhered to.
Unfortunately a point which I think has been missed by many is the irony of the timing of the Mockingjay’s emergence in our cinemas. The movie grounds itself in the idea of protest and uprisings - The ordinary man and woman standing up for themselves after years of oppression and financial suffering. It would be remiss of me not to mention water charges here. Watching Mockingjay with the knowledge in my mind that at least two more anti water charges protests are yet to take place in my locality before the end of the year, led to a clear relationship being drawn between the two.
The scene I briefly mentioned above could spur any semi-unsatisfied citizen to get out on the streets for those protests. I realise it was certainly never the intention of the Hunger Games producers to encourage water charges protests on this little island of ours with their November release date, but it wouldn’t surprise me if that is in fact what the movie results in.
Yes, it’s entertaining in the first instance but there is an undeniably clear message behind the movie, as an adaption of the book: The oppressed people of any nation can and should rise in revolt against their oppressors. They must never succumb to threats. Most importantly, sometimes all it takes to cause a revolution and to break complacency and unquestioning compliance is one single issue.
Mockingjay: Part 1: A movie worth seeing more than once certainly. A movie worth the €7. A movie with a clear message, as well as the obligatory entertainment value. A movie with, one could say, perfect timing considering the times we live in. Revolt and break the system is its message.
I should probably also point out that you will, in all likelihood, walk away from Mockingjay with a song stuck in your head. Jennifer Lawrence’s rendition of The Hanging Tree was perfectly tailored to the mood and leaves viewers wanting to hear it on a loop for at least two solid hours.