The Hanging Tree

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is proof that splitting a final book into 2 parts is a bad idea. It worked for The Deathly Hallows and sort of worked for Breaking Dawn, but Suzanne Collins’ Mockingjay is only a 390 page book. The breaking point they chose means an almost complete lack of action in Part 1. Katniss Everdeen fires precisely one arrow in the entire 2 hour movie. My brother and I were still on board for the “finale,” but this is when I started to question the franchise as a whole. At least director Francis Lawrence and the stellar cast continue to make it watchable. Mockingjay – Part 1 has no Hunger Games just like the book. Instead the focus is on the much needed rebellion against the Capitol. The only action you’re gonna see. President Snow and his peacekeepers threaten all of Panem, so the once thought destroyed District 13 mounts an offensive.

Pretty much nothing happens other than Katniss refusing to be the Mockingjay and complaining about Peeta every chance she gets. Peeta, Johanna, and Annie are all prisoners of the Capitol. So Katniss is most concerned with their rescue. Even though Peeta is being used for propaganda interviews with Caesar. Since Josh Hutcherson is mostly relegated to looking more and more sickly, Liam Hemsworth steps up as the primary leading man. Giving Gale and Katniss more reason to get together. Mahershala Ali is also a trusted ally as Katniss’ bodyguard Boggs. Katniss’ main obstacle is District 13 President Alma Coin played by the series last veteran actress Julianne Moore. Most of her scenes are with Plutarch, who needed a few minor rewrites due to Philip Seymour Hoffman passing away. Although Beetee supplies Katniss with an explosive bow & arrow, the only thing they want her for is to make propaganda videos.

So she’s joined by Natalia Dormer as “propo” director Cressida and her futuristic film crew including silent avox Pollux. A sober Haymitch shows up to help make the “propos” more natural along with Effie. She’s not in this part of the book, but the filmmakers liked the idea of her in the drab District 13. The only minor action Katniss sees is in the devastated District 8. The only thing Part 1 has going for it is the music. There’s a catchy song from Lorde, but most importantly Jennifer Lawrence struggles to sing “The Hanging Tree” in the ruins of District 12. The rebellion heats up when the Capitol bombs District 13 and Katniss has to save Prim (who foolishly went to save their cat Buttercup). After more nothing, Katniss contacts Snow in an attempt to block out their rescue attempt. Finnick reunites with Annie and Johanna is in bad shape, but Peeta is easily worse off. Since he was brainwashed by the Capitol into attacking Katniss. Mockingjay – Part 1 is a first act masquerading as a full movie. “May the odds be ever in your favor.”

4. Mockingjay Part 1

Katniss leads a revolution

Preceded by: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire & Followed by: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

2 thoughts on “The Hanging Tree

  1. Yup, I really hope that splitting movies thing is dead; it didn’t working for Twilight, but for the opposite reason, the final film has montages, goodbye reels, and was essentially the last 20 minutes strung out to feature length. Fan supercuts will result….

    Liked by 1 person

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