Going the Distance: Review of ‘Mockingjay Part 1’ / Hunger Games Marathon)

Well that's subtle.

Well that’s subtle.

Rated PG-13, 123 minutes (watched 11/20/14)

The Hunger Games Triology (Quadrilogy?) is an interesting prospect in a political sense in that you can essentially see whatever you want as the moral of the story. Conservatives see it as a warning against big government and liberals see it as proof the system is stacked in favor of the rich at the expense of the little guy. Would the rioters setting fire to cop cars in Ferguson look at this poster say “Yeah, Katniss gets it! If we burn, you burn with us!” Would she instead mourn the mindless destruction as a result of a perceieved (rightly or wrongly) injustice?

I’ll leave the jabbering opinions for some other forum; Me? I just wanted to watch a movie marathon, refill my popcorn and maybe try to learn archery.

If you’re even remotely interesting in seeing the first half of the final third of the series, I won’t bother with the plot. Katniss and District 13 are rebelling against the Captial in earnest. Peeta is missing and presumed dead. There are fancy bows and arrows. Whereas the first movie especially was a commentary on reality TV, this installment offers some critique on war-time government propaganda. It’s not glaringly obvious, but it’s there. A small difference in the book: Effie (Elizabeth Banks, this time sans wig) has a much bigger role in the film.

The linchpin to the series has been and will continue to be Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss. Girl can act. Even when Katniss’s character strays a little bit off the believability scale in this movie, girl can act. The other highlight is the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, who looks like he is simply having a ball playing Katniss’s PR agent.

After reading Mockingjay I came away thinking that Suzanne Collins had written herself into a corner with books 1 and 2 and had to do some serious plot gymnastics to work her way free to an ending. The book suffered, and the movie does as well. Is that a dealbreaker? Nope. Go forth and enjoy, but don’t expect it to blow your mind.

I mentioned we were at the opening night marathon. We arrived at the theater 90 minutes early to beat the crowds but were shocked find we were first in line. Only 20 people had joined us by movie three. That’s what you get for beginning your marathon at 2:30 p.m. on a Thursday, I suppose. As we left the theater though we were run over by hundreds of teenagers in yoga pants crowding into the theater for the 10 p.m. showing, so I wouldn’t worry too much about its box office prospects.

mockingjay tix

All the cool kids are wearing lanyards these days.

All that’s wonderful, but what’s the movie’s grade? I’m in a hurry here, buddy.
Oh, let’s see. 3.5 / 5.

Where do I know that guy from? 
Jeffrey Wright (Beetee in Mockingjay) is a superb actor in a lot of films, but I liked him as CIA agent Felix Leiter in Casino Royale and Quatum of Solace.

What is the star’s spirit animal?
Um, a mockingjay. Duh.

What color socks are you wearing right now?
Grey with purple spots. (Fun fact: I went back and reread my review of Catching Fire and apparently I was wearing the same grey socks with purple spots when I reviewed that film. It seems I’m not only writing movie reviews, I’m creating a sock diary.)

Spoiler alert!
Effie’s hair was a wig all along!

Megan’s Take:
She liked it a lot, but refused to give it a 5/5.  She takes offense anytime movies deviate from the book. She says Catching Fire, the second film, is the best so far.

Heard any good jokes lately?
How do you find Will Smith in the snow?
You look for the fresh prints.


Snacks eaten:
Since this was a three-movie marathon and the timing meant we’d be pushing right on through supper time, this seemed the the one occasion it made sense to buy the large, refillable popcorn and sodas. We refilled the sodas once each and the popcorn as well. I’m guessing the theater’s profit margin was will 97 percent. We brought in our own mix-ins (Sour Patch Kids and M&Ms), so even though we overpaid for concessions, we didn’t overpay as much as we could have.

Unrelated Word of the Day:
Chouse CHOWSS DEFINITION verb: cheat, trick

Would the movie have been any better with the addition of Morgan Freeman as narrator?
It’s a little late in the series to jump in with a narrator. However, the books are written in first person present, so I guess it would have made sense if Katniss had been narrating things all along.


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