‘Mockingjay: Part 1’ continues to burn bright, visually astounds


Photo from “Mockingjay: Part 1” official site, used with permission under fair use.

Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. Chocolate can be delicious until you have too much of it and end up regretting the decision to even look at the chocolate in the first place. Life has its place for regrets. But seeing “Mockingjay: Part 1” will not be one of them.

It’s been a three-year journey so far with just one year left. And it seems that “The Hunger Games” franchise only burns brighter as time goes on.

Walking into the theatre I knew “Mockingjay” was going to emotionally destroy me. And I knew I would not even care. To quote President Snow, “Sometimes it’s the things that we love most that destroy us.”

What made “Mockingjay” so incredible was that for the first time in the franchise, we saw the games’ damage to Katniss’ mental health and the people she loves. To some, it may be “boring” that there were moments in “Mockingjay” that were slower to accommodate the PTSD experienced by certain characters, but boring is a word I would never use to describe “Mockingjay.” It felt like Katniss was more real than ever; we see that she really is only a teenager and that the games have had a huge impact on her. She’s loved and lost, and now she’s forced to be the face of a rebellion that has killed thousands of those closest to her.

The color palette in “Mockingjay” suited the emotional aspects quite well; black at first was a color that represented loss and heartbreak, but went through a metamorphosis into a color that signified strength and rebellion. Fire was, of course, another symbol. As always, director Francis Lawrence utilized the juxtaposition between fire and black extremely well. This movie is very aesthetically pleasing, between the makeup, costumes  and camera work as well.

Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of Katniss has yet again stunned me. She captures Katniss’ hurt, confusion and humanness in such a way that you don’t feel like you’re watching a movie.

The scenes that rip out your heart without care and twist it before completely shattering you are the ones with Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). Peeta was captured by the Capitol at the end of “Catching Fire,” and was subjected to all kinds of mental and physical torture, the extent of which isn’t even fully shown in “Mockingjay.” Hutcherson’s acting has only grown more and more believable since the release of 2012’s “The Hunger Games.”

Earlier this year, Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away due to an apparent overdose on drugs. So to see him on the screen in one of his last roles was a bit strange, but it only enforced the fact that the world will miss his abilities to make us forget, for a while, the world around us. His portrayal of Plutarch Heavansbee is extraordinary, and only makes the film that much better.

Julianna Moore was incredible as President Alma Coin. Moore had layers to her character that added mystery that will be revealed in “Mockingjay: Part 2,” and the scenes where she was alongside Hoffman were absolutely astonishing. When I first read the books, I envisioned President Coin as someone who cares deeply about her people, but at the same time has an air of caution to her. Moore delivered that on screen beautifully, and matched who I pictured almost exactly.
There’s only one installment left of “The Hunger Games” franchise and it’s clear with the cliffhanger at the end of “Mockingjay” that “Mockingjay: Part 2” will be the best the series has seen so far. It’s setting the audience up for plot to be resolved, people to die and heartstrings to be pulled.

If you’re like me, you stay until after the credits if there’s a bonus scene. While it’s not necessarily an extra “scene,” there is a little bonus at the end of “Mockingjay,” so if I were you, I would wait until the end of the credits before jumping on your phone and tweeting about how amazing it was.