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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 Movie Review

Reviewed by on Nov 21, 2014
Rating: 4 Star Rating

Katniss Everdeen becomes the face of rebellion but at great emotional cost in Mockingjay Part 1. Check out Kidzworld’s review of the next film in The Hunger Games saga.

By: Lynn Barker

Brave Katniss has shattered The Hunger Games forever. She has survived but Peeta Mellark and other tributes are prisoners of evil President Snow in the Capitol. In order to save Peeta, she has to become the face of a massive rebellion. Talk about putting pressure on a relationship!

Katniss and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) run from Snow's bombersKatniss and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) run from Snow's bombersCourtesy of Lionsgate

District 13 Refuge

After wrecking The Hunger Games forever, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) was rescued by rebellion leaders headquartering in District 13. Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Finnick (Sam Claflin) are there along with a “de-glammed” Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), slightly toned-down Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), tech whiz Beetee (Jeffrey Wright) and Katniss’s mom and sis Prim (Willow Shields). Missing and captured by President Snow (Donald Sutherland) are Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Johanna (Jena Malone) and Finnick’s long-lost girlfriend Annie (Stef Dawson).  Katniss is in very bad emotional shape.

President Snow in his posh officesPresident Snow in his posh officesCourtesy of Lionsgate

The Call to Action

District 13’s President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) and rebellion PR honcho Plutarch Heavensbee (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman) want Katniss to become The Mockingjay and shoot several inspiring PR videos to stir up all the districts to rebel. After a horrible tour of the fire-bombed remains of her beloved District 12, Katniss tries to stir rebels to action but with fake words written for her, it’s just not working.

Plutarch and President Coin make plansPlutarch and President Coin make plansCourtesy of Lionsgate

When she discovers that Peeta is held prisoner and has been tortured and brainwashed to “star” in his own videos to stamp out the rebellion, she tells Coin that she will be the rebel figurehead IF Coin will rescue Peeta and the victors held prisoner in the Capitol. Coin agrees. Effie, now dressed way down but ever the flamboyant butterfly, will be her escort/dresser and PR rep.

Effie (Elizabeth Banks) glammed down but tryingEffie (Elizabeth Banks) glammed down but tryingCourtesy of Lionsgate

Into Battle

Realizing that Katniss’s words must be her own, Coin sends her into battle to the front lines with the rebels. Snow has stepped up his efforts to crush the rebellion. Gale, ready for revenge for the destruction of District 12, is at her side. On the way, Katniss meets Capitol rebels Cressida (Natalie Dormer) and her crew Castor, Messalla and Pollux. Finding countless rebel wounded with zero medical help, Katniss tells them she will be their leader. When Snow bombs the make-shift hospital, killing all, the rebellion has its Mockingjay as Katniss goes on camera and gives a from-the-heart, rousing speech challenging Snow and escalating the fight. Katniss and Gale share a quiet moment but he realizes that Peeta has all her attention now. She learns how valiantly Gale struggled to save those he could when 12 was destroyed.

Gale and Katniss head for a rebel hospitalGale and Katniss head for a rebel hospitalCourtesy of Lionsgate

The Rescue

District 13 is bombed by Snow’s military but Katniss and the others take refuge deep underground and survive. She is further broken however, almost giving up. After Beetee takes down the electrical grid, Gale leads a small team into the heart of the Capitol to rescue Peeta and the other victors. While Finnick tells all of Panem about the specific evils of President Snow on camera, the team moves in. Later, finally breaking from his brainwashed speech, Peeta shouts a warning. It’s a trap!

Midst the rubble, Katniss is determined to winMidst the rubble, Katniss is determined to winCourtesy of Lionsgate

The Set Up

Gale and the team return to 13 with Peeta, Johanna and Annie in tow. Gale says that Snow just let them all go. Peeta is weak and in horrible condition. Can he recover? Whose team is he really on now? Stay tuned for Part 2 next year!

Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and President Coin (Julianne Moore) uniteKatniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and President Coin (Julianne Moore) uniteCourtesy of Lionsgate

Wrapping Up

Mockingjay - Part 1 is everything the fans of the books and films expect and more. Yes, it will seem unfinished, especially to newbies trying to follow the story, but it has to be so. Dividing the final book in the beloved series into two films was a wise choice but the cliffhanger ending might make you rush back to re-read the novel for some kind of closure before the final film wrap up next year.


Watching teen heroine Katniss transform from country girl/huntress to accomplished rebel leader has never been so satisfying. Jennifer Lawrence again proves her acting ability and is provided with some heavy emotional scenes that make use of her talent. Elizabeth Banks represents needed comic relief in this dark and violent tale as she portrays the flamboyant Effie who retains her irritating but entertaining personality despite being stripped of her wigs and colorful finery.

Rebels salute the MockingjayRebels salute the MockingjayCourtesy of Lionsgate

Josh Hutcherson should be given credit for his portrayal of unlucky Peeta. You can not only witness the torture he has suffered in his gaunt face but see it in his eyes and that’s all Josh, not just camera magic and make-up. Sam Claflin fleshes out the Finnick character quite well as he morphs from flashy celebrity victor to serious-minded rebel. Julianne Moore is a great President Coin, showing that she too has suffered despite her determination to “use” Katniss as a rebel trigger and both the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman and wacky Woody Harrelson as Plutarch and Haymitch, really come across in their roles.

Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) has a planHaymitch (Woody Harrelson) has a plan

The film effectively puts out the call to all, especially tweens and teens, to speak out for what they believe in, stand up and be counted and that, as author Suzanne Collins intended, is inspiring. You will recognize even more of a satire on our public obsession with the media, our tendency to fall victim to political propaganda than ever which gives the film deeper meaning than the usual YA angst.  

Peeta prepares to go on cameraPeeta prepares to go on cameraCourtesy of Lionsgate

The “look” of Mockingjay Part 1 is rich and probably what you pictured in the novel. From the horrible destruction in District 12 to the stark, mechanical look of District 13 and the opulent and decadent grandeur of Snow’s offices, production design is right on. Most audiences will feel the call to action and be cheering, at least inside, as the rebels sing Katniss’s “Hanging Tree” war song and bravely fight back. Although not as detailed as the novel, the film succeeds in launching the final chapters of the dystopian saga that began with The Hunger Games. We go 4 stars. 

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 Movie Rating:4

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 PosterThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 PosterCourtesy of Lionsgate

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1  is in theaters now!

Have Your Say

Have you excited to see the next instalment of The Hunger Games? Comment below and let us know if you have seen The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1.