Tonight, the most anticipated film of the year, has been officially released in theaters across America. And like hundreds of thousands if not millions of teenagers throughout the country, I’ve been preparing for this day since the presale tickets were released on October 29. From ordering reserved seats in our local theater weeks ago to buying 5 lbs of skittles on Amazon to sneak into the theater, every hour and every minute seems to be passing by incredibly slowly.
If you haven’t discovered the wonderful benefits of buying reserved seating theater tickets for movie premieres, you are truly missing out. I don’t know if it is offered at all theaters but at select Century Theaters (owned by Cinemark), nearly all premieres have show times that are equipped for reserved seating. Basically, to order tickets, you go online to the theater website, find show times listed under reserved seating, select your seats from the theater map, then print out your receipt and take it to the box office to get your tickets. The key to avoiding any lines on the day of the showing is to pick up your tickets a few days in advance. Below is a example of the theater map that I used to select our seats:
[WARNING: SOME MOVIE SPOILERS AHEAD] Anyhow, I have just gotten home from the 8pm showing and it is about 11:30 when I am writing this so my apologies if half the sentences don’t seem to make any sense. The movie is just over 2 hours long and as usual it began after about 20 minutes of previews and commercials. I’m trying to recall as many details as possible so if I miss any or remember them later, I will continue to update this post. The first scene opens with Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) lying in her bed in the hospital in District 13, she gets up to find Finnick (Sam Claflin) in another hospital room crying for the tributes and and his loved one, Annie, taken hostage by the Capitol. From here the movie rapidly progresses as Katniss learns about the growing rebellious movement in the districts, her potential influence and how she has become a symbol of change, hope, and strength for the people of Panem, and especially the status of both the Capitol and its hostages (particularly Peeta).
The majority of the important events of the beginning of the book that set the scene and develop the necessary background information are therefore accurately depicted and portrayed on the screen. This includes her conditions for becoming the Mockingjay, her return to District 12 after it was destroyed by the Capitol as a result of the end of the Quarter Quell, and the creation of unscripted promos in District 8 which result in one of Katniss’ most well-known lines directed at President Snow (Donald Sutherland), “If we burn, you burn with us!”. Upon her second visit to District 12, this time acompanied by Gale (Liam Hemsworth), Cressida (Natalie Dormer), and the rest of the camera crew, they stop at a lake; Katniss is sitting next to Pollux (Elden Henson) when he spots a Mockingjay. He asks her to sing so he can hear the birds copy the tune so she begins to sing “The Hanging Tree”. As Katniss sings this song, you feel the whole theater go silent as everyone listens intently to this chilling song that is played while we see scenes from various rebellions in other districts. It can be easily understood why this particular scene was so anticipated and even after the movie, I can still here the melody accompanied by Jennifer Lawrence’s voice and those of the rebel forces.
As more and more damage is done throughout the districts in order to make the Capitol falter, the opportunity arises for President Coin (Julianne Moore) to attempt a mission to rescue the hostages from the Capitol. Gale is part of the team that attempts this mission and for so many long and heart-pounding moments you feel truly terrified for them as the suspense builds to a point you never knew it could reach. And then, in a second, the terror and various emotions you feel for these characters is gone and the only question richoteting in your skull is “What happened?”, for a moment you get an unmistakable sense of what might possibly be going through Katniss’ mind as she waits for information that could be either thrilling or devastating.
You will need to see the movie to find out how it ends but it definitely leaves many questions unanswered. Overall, I think this movie did a great job of setting the audience up for the final movie coming out on November 20, 2015. The beginning was not as action-packed as some might have expected but in comparison to the book, it was a highly accurate depiction. The only detail that I wish would have been added was the discovery and rescue of Katniss’ prep team in District 13 (they were replaced by Effie (Elizabeth Banks) in the movie).
The majority of the rest of the movie continues to stay true to the book and the audience gets to see the growing strength and determination in Katniss and how she symbolizes everything the rebels are fighting for. We see the relationship between Katniss and Prim (Willow Shields), Gale, and even Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) strengthen and evolve as they join together and support one another through their shared experiences and past.
The movie ends roughly one chapter before the midway point of the book but the ending offers no closure to the issues and conflicts still brewing throughout Panem. Of course, one of the significant questions emphasized throughout the movie is somewhat answered, but the answer only opens up even more questions about the uncertain future of the main characters and the suppressed citizens that rely on their guidance and support.
If you haven’t seen the film yet, I would definitely recommend seeing it sometime in the future. Personally, I think it was well worth the $11.50 I paid for my ticket and the anticipation I have for the final movie has not changed, if anything it actually increased my excitement for what I hope will be a breathtaking ending to the series. It may not live up to what you expect aesthetically from the franchise, but recall that a majority of the scenes take place underground in District 13 rather than a man-made arena or the Capitol. Despite this, the scenes in the districts were thoroughly impressive and I could not help but admire the amount of detail that was put into the war-torn, or better explained as demolished, districts that Katniss and her team visited.
If you haven’t read the book by Suzanne Collins before going to watch the movie, I don’t think it is entirely necessary to do so. Before seeing the film, I decided that week to start rereading the book and by the day of the showing I had gotten about two-thirds through the first half. It did help to clarify some of the more subtle points in the movie and enabled me to recognize some direct quotes from the book, but for me it took away from some of the more comedic moments in the movie since I knew they were coming. For example, when Katniss begins filming her staged promos as the Mockingjay, Jennifer Lawrence does an amazing job of portraying her character’s inability to act naturally on camera but I think this scene might have been even more hilarious if I didn’t know what was about to happen. On the contrary, knowing certain details from the book did help to give me a better understanding of the reasons why certain scenes were portrayed a certain way and added especial emphasis and significance to some of the more prominent scenes from the book, including “The Hanging Tree” and the “hospital scene”. In addition, I have to admit that being able to even slightly recall what this movie is essentially preparing us for, does seem to make each minute of the film a little more important and essential to the conclusion of what will be almost a 4 year long ride when the last movie is released in less than a year.
To sum things up, this movie was well done and while it may not be as exciting as some people may have expected, it well-represents the book on which it is based. Part 1 provides a strong foundation and premise for Mockingjay: Part 2 to build on and without a doubt, it brings even more questions into the light about the precarious future of war-torn Panem and the growing rebellious movements in the districts.
Read Connor Lenahan’s blog post about his predictions for this movie here: http://connorlenahan.com/2014/11/20/girl-on-fire/ It accurately describes the mixed feelings I had before seeing the movie and I think his predictions were spot on when it comes to the overall concept of preparing the audience for the finale. Also, check out this awesome review: debravega.wordpress.com/2014/11/22/movie-review-the-hunger-games-mockingjay-part-1/
Last updated: 11/22 @ 6:10 PM