A burst of passion: Mockingjay sees the franchise evolve
    Willow Shields stars as Primrose Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I / Courtesy of Lionsgate

    The fire is catching.

    Actress Willow Shields, who plays Primrose Everdeen, stopped in Chicago Nov. 12 on her press tour before the Chicago premiere of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I, the third installment of the series that was screened Tuesday.

    Following in the footsteps of successful film series like Harry Potter and The Twilight Saga, Mockingjay is being released in two parts. When reading Mockingjay, the first half of the book can seem very slow-paced and boring, potentially worrying some fans – how this film would spruce up important background information necessary to understanding the revolution?

    It will certainly help fans to re-watch the first two movies before walking into the theater. You will be doing yourself a big favor. There are small things you could forget and this movie flows naturally form the second.

    The acting brought forth a side of The Hunger Games that we haven’t seen before. The Oscar-worthy acting abilities of actors such as Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen and Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch Heavensbee permeate throughout the film. Not relying on the flash of action, the actors’ full commitment to their roles and portrayal of real emotions sold the story. Shields shared what her experience with these actors was like.

    “Working with these A-list actors that are so incredible to witness work, you never dream that you’d see the Oscar winners work right before you in person. I’ve learned a lot about acting from them,” Shields said.

    Beyond the acting, director Francis Lawrence made this film radiate with the districts' passion, without the excess of violence and action that come with the Games in the first two movies. Gone are the prep-teams that made Katniss glow with fire on T.V.; this movie takes us into the District 13's veiled preparation to fight the Capitol. We move with the uprising through Katniss as a leader and see each of the districts’ individual fights.

    Jennifer Lawrence reprises her role as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part I / Courtesy of Lionsgate

    Lawrence brings the viewer into the heart of the revolution and makes them feel a part of the uprising. The first act of unity in District 7, after the video release of Katniss leading the fight, captivated viewers, telling them what was at stake for these characters: members of the lumber district were being forced into the forest to work overtime when one man spotted the Mockingjay symbol carved into a tree. He whistled the signature four-tone song that signaled their plan. Immediately they all began to run and climb up trees, some getting shot in the process. Their final words to the peacekeepers below were, “If we burn, you burn with us,” in repetition of Katniss’ video, and set off bombs hidden below the ground.

    We not only see a change in the overall attitude of this film because of the districts, but we see characters change, and take on new roles in this film. Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) is no long the poster boy of the Capitol; he comes off instead as broken and struggling. While their world looks to Katniss as the face of the rebellion, behind the scenes Prim is the one who keeps her together.

    “She starts off as this really young girl who is kind of scared of this world that she lives in,” Shields said. “Then you see her in Catching Fire discover who she is as a person, in the fact that she wants to be a doctor, and you see in Mockingjay she finds a strength in herself that she didn’t know she had.”

    The score of Mockingjay opens up with beautiful music by James Newton Howard that gives the movie an instant feel of a foreign place and isolation, fitting for the opening which happens in District 13, a place that was thought to be long lost. It closes with a strong piece by Lorde titled “Yellow Flicker Beat,” which leaves you waiting for Part II. Katniss says in the movie, “Fire is catching” and this song perfectly describes the districts' spark of uprising as a growing fire that has only just begun.

    The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 opens in theaters this Friday, Nov. 21.


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