Okay let’s get this damn movie finished with.
Before we start though, the beginning of Let’s Watch Mockingjay Pt.1 is going to take a while because there are a lot of Spooktober-centric reviews I want to get to before the month ends.
Last time Katniss and her fellow Tributes OHD, Tech Bro and Axe Woman were about to embark on some sort of cunning plan to eliminate the competition, and also there were mysterious shenanigans happening in the background.
President Snow and Plutarch watch as events unfold and eagerly await Katniss’ demise. Plutarch promises that they’ll toast when it’s over, then shuffles out of the room in a highly suspicious manner.
YOU’RE BEING PLAYED LIKE A DAMN FIDDLE
As further evidence for my hypothesis that this story has too many characters, I submit the fact that both of the District 1 career tributes have been killed off in really uninteresting ways. I don’t think either of them even had any lines. If you’re going to introduce a woman with teeth filed into points so she can rip people’s throats out, why not use her for something interesting?
Maybe the book expanded on these characters better, but if that wasn’t going to be translated into the movie better why even bother having them here in the first place?
At the lightning-tree tensions start to fray when Tech Bro tells Katniss and Axe Woman to go and unspool the wire all the way back to the beach while Finnick and OHD stay behind to guard him. OHD tries to insist on going with Katniss, but the other tributes all act really cagey and weird as if they’re up to something they don’t want to tell her about.
While trekking back to the beach Katniss and Axe Woman are attacked by the two remaining careers. Axe Woman clonks Katniss on the head, cuts her arm and smears blood on her throat to make it look like she’s dead, then leads the careers away.
This makes no sense. If she wanted Katniss to play dead, couldn’t she have just told her to do it without slicing her arm open? Why does she want Katniss to play dead, when Katniss is armed with a bow and is easily the most deadly combatant in the arena? I get that she’s part of some plot that involves keeping Katniss alive, but taking away her ability to fight just endangers both of them.
Also, playing dead can’t actually work because a cannon fires every time a tribute dies. The careers would immediately realise that Katniss isn’t dead and come back to finish her off.
(Later on we find out that Axe Woman was removing Katniss’ tracker during this scene; okay, but a) couldn’t she have warned her she was going to do that and b) when was she planning on doing this if the careers didn’t show up?)
To add to the stupidity, Axe Woman throws her axe at them, leaving herself completely unarmed. This kind of plotting infuriates me, where you can tell characters are acting in ways that make no sense in order to ensure that certain events happen as planned.
Anyway Finnick comes running, but Katniss hides from him because she no longer trusts the other tributes (gee I wonder why). Instead she races off to save her beloved OHD.
(btw I’m not taking screenshots of the next few scenes because they’re extremely dark and you can barely tell what’s going on).
Upon arriving at the clearing, she sees Tech Bro getting zapped by a forcefield and realises that the whole lightning tree thing was actually an attempt to interfere with them, not take out the careers. Tech Bro didn’t tell her because ???
There’s a tense moment where Katniss is about to shoot Finnick, but he tells her to “remember who the real enemy is” (something she herself said earlier) and she stands down. Well gee Finnick maybe if you told her what the fuck was going on instead of acting cagey and suspicious she wouldn’t be tempted to kill you.
RIDE THE LIGHTNING
In case it wasn’t obvious, this is basically the climax of the movie. If it seems kind of abrupt and disjointed and as if the thing with Katniss becoming hostile to the other tributes feels like a really contrived way to add dramatic tension and some sort of thematic connective tissue… well, yeah.
Katniss realises what Tech Bro had been trying to do, so she fires an arrow with a wire wrapped around it at the lightning strike, causing a huge explosion that wipes out the forcefield and cuts out all of the camera feeds. Back in the control room Snow calls for Plutarch, only to find that he’s disappeared.
It’s fun seeing Snow realise how utterly he fell for Plutarch’s scheme, but on the other hand this does sort of instantly defang him as a villain.
Apparently this entire thing was taking place inside a gigantic dome. I don’t remember exactly, but I think this is a change from the book, where the forcefield was literally just a forcefield. Also I seem to recall this scene happening on the beach, but again, it’s been a while.
A spaceship descends and takes Katniss away while the arena explodes around her.
Katniss wakes up in the ship next to Tech Bro, then walks in on Woodie Harrelson talking to Plutarch and Finnick. Plutarch finally explains what’s been going on: la resistance pulled a giant scam to get Katniss out of the arena alive, with half the tributes in on it. They need her because they’re going to start the revolution and she’s The Mockingjay, their symbol. And now they’re going to District 13! Yeah District 13 is still around.
The plan was successful, but unfortunately they couldn’t extract OHD or Axe Woman. As a result, they’ve both been captured and are currently in the Capital. Katniss flips her shit at this and Plutarch sedates her (she’s such an empowering heroine you guys)
God damn it not this guy again.
Katniss asks if they’re home, Asshole tells her that the Capital firebombed District 12 and it’s completely destroyed, Katniss looks pissed, cut to black.
And that’s our movie!
Look. I really don’t want to be one of those critics who just picks out logical inconsistencies. Despite all outward signs to the contrary, I find that super nit-picky why-didn’t-they-just-take-the-eagles-to-Mordor style of analysis to be completely pointless. But sometimes, things just don’t make sense and it annoys me. So here we go:
- Why didn’t the rebels tell Katniss about the plan? Woodie says it’s because it was too dangerous to tell her while Snow was watching her, but that can’t be true because clearly the other people involved– which includes the Gamemaker, Snow’s right hand man– had some means of organising and communicating covertly. Not telling her also introduces like a million ways the plan could have gone off the rails, like if she decided to just murder everyone the second the Games started.
- Why was Tech bro sending Katniss and Axe Woman back to the beach? Was the entire attack by the two careers staged just to have an excuse to remove Katniss’ tracking implant? If they needed to put on a big ruse like that to do it without drawing suspicion, how did they remove Tech Bro and Finnick’s implants? If they did it on the ship, why couldn’t they have removed Katniss’?
- Why in the flying fuck did the Capital bomb District 12? It’s their sole means of coal production, and obviously they need coal or they wouldn’t have a district devoted entirely to mining it. Blowing it up is like stabbing one of your vital organs to remove an infection. Maybe they have some other means of producing power (in which case what did they need the coal for but never mind); if that’s the case it just makes whatever their alternative is a bigger failure point in terms of strike or rebellion and a juicier target for the resistance.
- If District 13 was capable of sending an airship covertly to wherever the arena was and back without being spotted, wouldn’t it have been way easier to just grab Katniss on the outskirts of District 12? This entire plot was just a contrived excuse to have another Hunger Games instead of making Katniss join the rebellion immediately after the events of the first movie.
- Where the hell did OHD go? Katniss and Axe Woman are attacked by the careers, Finnick comes running, Katniss goes back to the tree and finds Tech Bro botching his plan with the forcefield… did he just run off in the middle of all of this? Why? What was he trying to accomplish? The story just needed him to not be at the tree when the rescue came down, but it’s like no one could think of a sensible way to accomplish that.
About the movie itself… honestly, up until the ending I actually thought it was better than the first one. It was a blatant retread, but this time there was a whole lot more emotional impact and weight behind everything, eg all the reality TV stuff had some actual tension to it instead of just being… there.
And as with the first movie, things started to devolve once the actual Hunger Games started. We need something like Garfield without Garfield, except it will be The Hunger Games without The Hunger Games.