The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 Movie Poster Image
Melancholy, violent sequel sets stage for waging war.
  • PG-13
  • 2014
  • 123 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 14 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 77 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Many thought-provoking messages/themes about varying styles of government, the importance of symbols to causes and movements, the role of media in unifying people around a cause, and the way love can cloud all other thoughts except the safety of those you hold most dear. Courage, perseverance, and self-control are themes. May spark conversation on everything from politics to feminism to the use of media and propaganda during times of war.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Katniss continues to want to save others, particularly Peeta; she makes sure to negotiate his safety in return for her allegiance to the rebel cause. Peeta wants to help Katniss and goes against Snow's orders to help give her a message. Gale believes in the revolution but is willing to put himself in danger to give Katniss what she wants. Finnick is focused on the love of his life's well being, and Haymitch shows Katniss that their friendship means a great deal to him.

 

Violence

No more Games (which means no kids killing kids), but the violence is still realistic and disturbing: the bones of dead District 12 victims are shown up close; a makeshift hospital burns down; rebel fighters kill armed Peacekeepers and vice versa; dead District 8 residents rot on the floor of a hospital; Peacekeepers execute traitors to the Capitol; the Capitol bombs different Districts. Peeta looks starved and tortured. A character tries to choke Katniss.

Sex

Less romance than in previous installments; Katniss kisses Gale once, and Finnick and Annie share a kiss.

Language
Consumerism

No product placements in the movie, but distributor Lionsgate has partnerships with Doritos, Mazda, and Whole Foods Market’s Whole Planet Foundation, and other companies to sell Hunger Games-themed food, apparel, video games, and more.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults consume unspecified drinks at a Capitol event. Medical workers give Katniss and others sedatives.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 is the penultimate and most political installment to date in the four-part adaptation of Suzanne Collins' best-selling dystopian trilogy. Rather than surviving an ultraviolent reality competition, the storyline (which was divisive among readers) is about starting a revolution and taking down the Capitol. While there's much less hand-to-hand fighting -- and no kids killing kids -- the violence can still be intense and upsetting (Katniss spends a big portion of the film crying), with shots of skeletal remains, dead and severely wounded citizens, the execution of traitors to the Capitol, the bombing of District 13, the burning of a makeshift hospital, and more. Fans of the book may remember that although Katniss is preoccupied with Peeta in the first half of Mockingjay, there's little romance except for a brief kiss with Gale and a reunion kiss between two other characters. Even more than the previous films, Mockingjay is full of compelling talking points about media, war, socialism, tyranny, women's roles, and the idea that people need a symbol, to rally around and have faith in during difficult times.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 12 year old Written byVelnias November 21, 2014

Amazing start to the final chapter, but may be too dark for little guys

My 12 yo daughter and I saw an early screening of the film last night and she was blown away. I'm still reading the series so I can't quite compare, b... Continue reading
Parent of a 11 year old Written byMr JayStay November 24, 2014

Bring your Older Tweens and Teens

Did not read the books. Seemed like a 'chick flick' - lots of crying and gasping and longing wet-eyed stares out onto the horizon. President Coin re... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byjohnstewart November 21, 2014

THE BEST ONE OF THE SERIES

-as a boy, I even liked it! I wouldn't say this is the most violent movie in the series, but it is very violent near the end (a boy attacks a girl in a ver... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bypieshark21 December 30, 2014

Parents should leave home the little ones

I saw the movie literally 2 hours before I wrote this. Mockingjay: Part 1 is a fantastic recreation of the book by Suzanne Collins. There are great role-models... Continue reading

What's the story?

At the end of Catching Fire, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) fired an arrow right into the heart of the Capitol by destroying the Arena. In MOCKINGJAY, PART 1, she wakes up disoriented in the secret, underground District 13, which is led by President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore). Distraught that President Snow (Donald Sutherland) has taken Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) hostage, Katniss agrees to become the symbolic face of the rebellion once President Coin promises to rescue and pardon Peeta and two other surviving Victors. Plutarch (the late Philip Seymour Hoffman) arranges for director Cressida (Natalie Dormer) to shoot a series of propaganda videos starring Katniss in full Mockingjay mode. As she visits the other rebelling Districts and her own decimated District 12, Katniss realizes the Capitol must be destroyed -- but not until Peeta is safe from Snow's pathological control.

Is it any good?

There's a dark, melancholy tone to this movie, but it matches Katniss' state of mind. She's borderline despondent over Peeta's capture and frightened of President Snow's psychological terror campaign against her. She's not the Girl on Fire of the Games; she must become the real heroine of the revolution. Director Francis Lawrence continues to prove his commitment to making adaptations that are faithful to the spirit of the source material while also introducing changes to enhance the visual and emotional experience for movie-goers who haven't read the books. It was unclear how Mockingjay would work, being divided in two, but the movie succeeds in capturing Katniss' emotional volatility as she goes from Hunger Games Victor to revolutionary symbol -- even if that means it feels like not much happens in this installment compared to the first two films.

As Snow icily tells Katniss, love can destroy you -- and, in this case, Katniss' singular focus on Peeta consumes her to the point of distraction and instability. Lawrence is such a gifted actress that it seems completely authentic that a post-traumatic 17-year-old girl would care more about the one person who kept her sane in her darkest moments in the Arena than she would about furthering Coin's mission (and what a perfect job Moore does of playing the calculating leader). Liam Hemsworth does Gale justice, showing how the intelligent young man is in his element with the rebels of District 13 but also that he loves Katniss so much that he'd be willing to risk his life to save his rival for her affections. Hutcherson isn't on screen all that much compared to the first two films, but when he is, you can't take your eyes off his transformation from the charismatic Boy with the Bread into a starved, wild-eyed hostage. This isn't the sequel you'll want to rewatch again and again, but it does set things up for the final film, when Katniss will have to lead not just the stirrings of rebellion but an actual war.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the political themes in Mockingjay. How does President Coin compare to President Snow? How are their visions for Panem different? What does Katniss want for the people of Panem? Katniss spends a lot of time narrowly focused on Peeta's welfare. Is this believable? How do her relationships change in this installment? How is she different?

  • How does the violence in this installment compare to the previous ones? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • Why is media and messaging so important to the District 13 cause? What does Plutarch mean when he says Peeta is being used as a symbol, just like Katniss? Do the "propos" capture Katniss' real feelings despite being produced?

  • How do the characters in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 demonstrate courage, perseverance, and self-control? Why are these important character strengths?

  • Those who are familiar with the book: What did you think of the changes the director and screenwriter made? Did you like where the filmmakers chose to end the first volume?

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