It all still feels like a wild dream. One Friday I’m told I’m going to a press screening for Mockingjay – Part 1, two days later there I am, sitting in Leicester Square getting ready to watch it!
Now, I’m going to try and keep this as spoiler free as I can, but as with everything: read at your own risk.
Francis Lawrence does a superb job of capturing the way the books only follow Katniss’ point of view. While the film does still have cutaway scenes, Part 1 almost exclusively follows Katniss. We get this enormous sense of fear and dread, as if it’s our world that’s gone to war. Lawrence does this by throwing us straight into things. By that I don’t mean a cinematic return to District 12; I mean that – just like Katniss – we are given no time to decompress.
Personally, I had been worried about all the new characters, the new set up, and the way this book is completely different from the first two. But worry not. As Mr. Lawrence has previously said, the two parts are definable; they are distinctly different. This instalment provides us with our annual Hunger Games fix and dramatically advances the plot.
The performances of the cast are absolutely sublime, truly amazing. They capture their characters perfectly. With Coin being the most elusive in the books, Julianne Moore performs her in a way the leader of an underground city would, efficiently, but listen to her speeches and you’ll discover her character has had some great development.
Jennifer Lawrence, once again, is Katniss. She manages to enchant us with her true to form cynicism while maintaining her highest priority: her family and Peeta. Mockingjay – Part 1 not only sets up the climatic ending of the series, it makes the stakes personal, even for us. Lawrence ensures this; she really makes the revolution of a fictional, futuristic country real.
Star Squad 451 also makes a grand entrance. You’ll love them. You really will. That’s all I’ll say.
And the one and only Finnick Odair… What can I say about Sam Claflin? Well, first of I have to say that he is Katniss’ peer, her emotional anchor. She does things with Finnick in mind, knowing that he is going through the same as herself. He gives her personal courage to do the acts she has to, not only for herself and for her family, but for her friend. He responds by giving her advice and helping Katniss be the strong 17-year-old that Panem needs her to be.
Of course, all the cast is amazing but because both films were shot back to back, we don’t see much of certain characters, which I think the fans of the books will get. This also unfortunately includes Peeta. I believe that because I saw this with no review before, other people should similarly go in with no expectations. All I’ll say is that Josh Hutcherson is so incredible, it’s truly disturbing.
One particular scene to look out for is when Snow is talking about the “Symbol of The Mockingjay.” (Look at his granddaughter). There are quite a few grim scenes that will really take your breath away.
On to the score! It’s amazing, it really is. The Hunger Games felt like an indie movie with a high budget, Catching Fire felt like a huge blockbuster; Mockingjay Part 1 really captures the best of both worlds – and the score represents this by using both new tracks and a mix of the first two scores, both of which I was more than happy to hear.
In my opinion, Mockingjay Part 1 finally finds the ground the series has been looking for; this feels like Francis Lawrence has done his “crossover film” from Gary Ross and is now really showing us what he’s made of. This will thrill fans of the books and the films alike, whilst preparing for the ultimate showdown in Part 2.
I could go on and on, and spoil everything, but I won’t – this film deserves to be seen and not spoiled. You’ll leave the theatre shocked, amazed, and heartbroken. Mockingjay Part 1 is the calm before the storm, and that’s really saying something…
And just for luck, here are three cool little things to look out for:
1) The graphics at the end of the Propos: are we Panem?
2) HAYFFIE HINTS
3) Do NOT leave until the very end of the credits.
Not long to go now. I wish you all luck, and… Happy Hunger Games!