The Hunger Games series has undoubtedly been a hit since the books were first published and the subsequent movies are reaching even greater heights of success. ‘The Hunger Games’, the movie, and ‘Catching Fire’ were praised by critics and fans alike - though it was widely recognised that Francis Lawrence becoming director for the series halfway between the two ultimately saved it from a nose-dive. Jennifer Lawrence’s impeccable performance as Katniss Everdeen brought her into the light as an exceedingly talented actress, and each film became grittier as the series progressed. However, the latest instalment has, unfortunately, been extensively criticised in the reviews. The question is, why?
“Catching Fire” left the audience by dropping a huge bomb. Literally. On District 12. The home of the protagonist was destroyed, and the other representative of the district were left for dead, for the dictatorial government to find, and later imprison. So when ‘Mockingjay’ was soon to be released, the film started to be publicised. Trailers were released in the form of Capitol propaganda, whilst including apparent ‘break through of the signal’ by the rebels. The film looked promising, painting the picture of a glorious rebellion to come. This was not the case.
The film mainly describes the events of Katniss, and District 13, the home of the rebels, attempting to encourage the general population of the remaining districts to join the fight. Very little physical conflict actually occurs - and only a small amount of the violence that involves Katniss returning fire. So, if you were expecting a war film, you’d be understandably disgruntled. However, these delicate politics are what, in my opinion, make the film. This is about how revolutions happen- and it’s entirely accurate in its depiction. Revolutions, whilst certainly won by amount of citizen participation, are orchestrated by calculating leaders, who know exactly what they’re doing. They are those who are prepared to make sacrifices, and command. Revolutions without steadfast leaders are not won (See; the tragedy of early attempts of a revolution presented in Les Miserables). So whilst the film may not have been as action-packed as expected, leading to less than desirable reviews, I believe that it is accurate in delivering the cold, hard reality of any successful, and ‘glorious’ revolution.
The shocking actuality of political struggles is emphasised even further by the ruthlessness of President Snow, the despicable dictator of Panem. When Katniss returns to her old home, she finds the streets littered with bodies mummified by flame, not to mention the multiple public executions carried out. The most harrowing scene, however, is the firebombing of a hospital containing unarmed and injured men, women and children. This disgusting callousness is enough to make anyone feel the same blind rage towards the Capitol as Katniss herself. Once again, the film is able to effectively demonstrate the reality of the fictional events.
Overall, Mockingjay appears to continue down the route director Francis Lawrence began with Catching Fire a year ago. A reflection of the true ethos of the book series, depicting the fear, violence and sorrow of a dystopian society.
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