Trailer Thursday: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen

Welcome to “Trailer Tuesday” where I talk about trailers for upcoming movies.

I’ve actually got two new trailers for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 for you today.  First up is a followup to the previous teaser, which showed President Snow giving an address to Panem with Peeta surprisingly by his side.  He’s once again addressing the nation with Peeta beside him, but this time he has another guest and things have a remarkably different tone even before the surprise at the end of the address.  Take a look and read on for my comments and the first full teaser trailer for Mockingjay – Part 1.

President Snow, Peeta Mellark and Johanna Mason

We once again have Snow giving a speech to Panem, and while his last one was split between praising the systems that support Panem and offering a warning to anyone who might object to those systems, this time his message is one of unity, delivered while surrounded by soldiers in an obvious display of strength.  “Throughout this great nation,” he says, “never have we been more unified, because now more than ever Panem is speaking with one voice.”

President Snow, Peeta Mellark and Johanna Mason

Interestingly, he now is flanked not only by Peeta but by Johanna Mason (Jena Malone, the best part of Catching Fire and one of my favorite parts of 2013 at the movies), another competitor from the 75th Hunger Games and an ally of Katniss.  I would assume from the release order of these two speeches that this is supposed to have been filmed after the first one, which should raise some questions.  What has happened between speeches to force Snow to surround himself with troops?  Why has Johanna joined them and why wasn’t she around for the previous speech?  Was she less cooperative than Peeta?

President Snow gets hacked

As Snow continues, “The Capitol and the Districts bound together in solidarity, together…” before the image goes fuzzy and cuts out.  Clearly all is not well in the Capitol, no matter what Snow might say to the contrary.

This is a pirate transmission.

We hear some background chatter as someone tries to hack into the Capitol’s feed to interrupt the broadcast.  As the image starts to clear we see a familiar face, Beetee (Jeffrey Wright), another Hunger Games competitor and ally of Katniss.

Jeffrey Wright as Beetee

As he finally manages to get control of the broadcast, he looks into the camera with only one thing to say.  “This is a pirate transmission from District 13 with a message: the Mockingjay lives.”  I just got goosebumps.

The filmmakers are going to have a much harder time with Mockingjay than they did with The Hunger Games or Catching Fire.  It doesn’t follow a similar formula to the previous books, the Hunger Games themselves are not featured, and it’s considerably more dark than the previous stories.  I loved the final book, but overall I’ve heard mixed reactions from people, a good number of whom did not like the directions taken by the story and the characters.  Add in the controversial splitting of the book into two films and I would say that the studio has a slightly uphill battle with these films that stands in contrast to the enormous success of the first two movies.

From that standpoint, the first two glimpses of the world of Panem were very clever as a way to get people talking about the series in anticipation of the next film, but without showing anything that might lead to grumbling.  The “pirate transmission” (pirates are always welcome to me) aspect is seriously exciting, and hints at the rebellion to come, picking out the driving force of the final book and offering up intrigue to those who haven’t read it.  I love it when movie studios do clever things with trailers, whether it’s an in-universe film, something from behind the scenes, or just something unexpected, so I’m thrilled that those behind Mockingjay – Part 1 are thinking creatively.

The real challenge comes when we get our first real look at the film.  Speaking of which:

Visual Effects

We start with the obligatory reminder that this is a big-budget, blockbuster film, despite its darkness.  I believe this is District 8, based on its appearance early in the book Mockingjay and its visual similarity to the District 8 we saw in Catching Fire, though I could be wrong.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee, Beetee and President Coin

We see Plutarch Heavensbee (the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman, who completed his filming before his death in February) sitting with Beetee and another figure, saying, “Listen to me, no one else can do this but her.”

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen

Who is this “her” he’s talking about?  Why, it’s probably the woman with the quiver of arrows and a familiar silhouette we see walking through a room full of refugees.

Julianne Moore as President Coin

The woman Heavensbee is talking to is President Coin (newcomer to the series, Julianne Moore), the leader of District 13, who doesn’t seem to be on board with Heavensbee’s plan.  “She won’t be able to handle it.  The Games destroyed her.”  Katniss may have the confidence of the masses, but not everyone is ready to simply throw in with the Mockingjay.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee

“We need to unite these people out there,” Heavensbee says.  “She’s the face of this rebellion.  They’ll follow her.”  It doesn’t sound like he’s necessarily 100% behind Katniss either, but as the former Gamesmaker for the Capitol, he knows how to manipulate people and to sell a story.  He knows they’re going to have to use Katniss if they want to rally the people, and the extent to which she is a tool of various leaders is a large question she’ll have to deal with in the film.

Mockingjay crop circle

We see a really cool Mockingjay crop circle…

President Snow

which President Snow seems less impressed with.  He says that, “Any association with the Mockingjay symbol is forbidden.”  We get a look at what that might mean, including a sequence where defiant citizens are gunned down by troops in the rain.

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We get a quick peek at Gale, Katniss’s childhood friend who has become a leader in the rebellion and plays a much larger role in the final book than he did in the previous two.

Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne

There are some snippets of action, including Capitol troops attacking fleeing citizens (who are really good at climbing trees).

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There’s also a quick shot of people running down stairs, which I imagine is from a sequence in the book where District 13 is under attack and everyone is forced to take shelter.

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Katniss in District 8

Eventually we return to Katniss and the room full of refugees.

The Hospital in District 8?

We see that some of these people, who are all fixated on Katniss, look rather beat up.  If I had to guess, I would bet that this is from a scene where Katniss visits a hospital in District 8 to comfort/inspire the wounded.

Natalie Dormer as Cressida

Of course, that’s not the only reason she’s there.  We get our first look at Natalie Dormer as Cressida, a film director who is teamed with Katniss to film propaganda pieces for the rebellion.  It’s a nice gesture for Katniss to visit the wounded, but it means nothing if it can’t be used to further the rebellion’s cause.  (See what I mean about Katniss being a tool?)

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As the crowd rises to its feet, a voice asks Katniss, “Are you fighting, Katniss?  Are you here to fight with us?”

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen

We see Katniss’s face for the first time, and it’s a mix of emotions.  She’s clearly suffering from her ordeals, and she looks almost panicked not only at being spoken to at all, but about being asked to fight.  After all she’s been through, the last thing she wants is more death.  Is she a warrior, a murderer, or something else?  She answers, rather hesitantly, “I am.”

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen

Her look hardens, and more confidently she adds, “I will.”  We then hear Rue’s familiar, four note melody, as the film’s logo flashes on the screen.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 logo

In all, it’s a solid trailer which hints at some of the emotional depth of the book and the larger events to come.  Of course, this first film will only cover half of the final book, and we don’t have a good idea where the split will come, so this trailer wisely keeps to the early happenings in the story.  Still, it’s exciting to finally get a look at The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1, even if we have to officially use that ridiculous title.

What do you think?  Are you excited for Mockingjay – Part 1?  Is it heartbreaking to see Phillip Seymour Hoffman in the trailer?  What do you think of Julianne Moore as President Coin?  Did you like the 2nd address by President Snow?  Am I the only one who got goosebumps from Beetee’s interruption?  If you’ve read the book, where do you think the filmmakers will split the book for the two movies?  Is there anything you’re particularly looking forward to seeing in the film, or anything you wish they’d change?  Let me know in the comments!

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