‘Mockingjay Part I’: Pinnacle of Hunger Games Franchise

Photo Courtesy of Eva Rinaldi, Flickr Creative Commons

Arguably the biggest science fiction epic of our time, the “Hunger Games” series is starting to come to a close with “Mockingjay Part I,” and it’s a film you do not want to miss this year.

“Mockingjay Part I” picks up where last year’s “Catching Fire” left off. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has escaped the horrors of her second Hunger Games competition thanks to the help of a group of revolutionaries trying to take down the dystopian society created by the Capitol. Her partner Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), however, was not so lucky, and is now trapped within the Capitol.

There’s no way to avoid putting in bluntly: “Mockingjay Part I” is the best of the “Hunger Games” franchise so far, and is a must-see for sci-fi fans.

Where the first and second installments in the series focused on both Katniss’ inclusion in the Hunger Games and her love triangle with Peeta and Gale (Liam Hemsworth), the new film sets its sights on the world of Panem and the political unrest that has finally reached a boiling point. This film plays out as more of a dystopian, Orwellian sci-fi drama than something written for fans of “Twilight.”

“Mockingjay Part I” is certainly the darkest film in the series as well, far surpassing the violence in the first two films.

One important factor of the film is the use of propaganda by both sides of the fight. Katniss is continuously encouraged to star in propaganda films for the rebels, while Peeta is forced to give predetermined answers to an interviewer in which he condemns Katniss and the rebels’ actions. The film cleverly displays the fact that the two sides of the struggle aren’t so different in their objectification of the people they use as tools of propaganda, providing a political and social commentary in a way that no genre other than science fiction could ever pull off.

Whereas some may criticize the series for splitting the book Mockingjay into two separate films, it actually helped flesh out the characters and world thanks to the extra screen time provided to do so. Because of this, the film does not feel rushed, and important moments are given the time they deserve.

Katniss’ character is a bit less likable in this film, often coming off as selfish. She seems to unnecessarily delay the action of the rebels for reasons that involve only her own advancement. This could all, however, be a product of Katniss feeling like she is being used by the rebels and would thus justify her actions, but it is hard to get behind her at certain points in the film.

Overall, the film is certainly worth a trip to the movies. Despite having the worst opening when compared to the rest of the series, “Mockingjay Part I” boasts the best opening weekend of the year, surpassing “Interstellar” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” with $123 million.  

If you’re a fan of science fiction, this is a film you need to see this winter, and is one that will leave you hungry for the next and final installment in the epic “Hunger Games” series.