Review | What "Mockingjay - Part 1" Got Right


TIA HERE with lots to say on The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1, which came out today (Wednesday the 19th) in Europe. (To all you Americans: enjoy it on Friday, suckas!) Because I'm sure there are already countless reviews out on the web by people hired to watch movies early and write about them, I'm going to take a bit of a different approach. I'll be attempting to avoid movie spoilers, but not book spoilers, so if you're looking for basic fact appreciation without going into too much detail—I'm your girl. For all those who read the books (hopefully I remember them as well as I think I do), here's the breakdown of some of my favorite moments that they got right, or just used in fantastic ways.
  • Finnick's backstory. Finnick being forced into prostitution and the trade of secrets into which he throws himself—it's all there, and included quite cleverly. Between cuts to a tense action scene, Finnick's painful and fascinating backstory is not forgotten, but presented in a very striking way. While his words are able to be heard by the audience, they are not the focus of this part of the movie and, if anything, that just adds to their tragedy. The suffering in this series is often so understated, making it all the more painful. Because it is so prevalent in the third book, no one person gets the monopoly on pain, but instead it hovers in the foreground, the background, and everywhere in between. That's what made the finale of the series so powerful—the aftermath of war, abuse, and poverty is not cast aside as a minor piece of the puzzle, it is the only clear picture, because that's how it is in the real world. Healing takes time, especially if the fight is just beginning.
  • Katniss's PTSD. On the note of trauma, Katniss's PTSD, which is critical to the third book, is relatively well addressed. She's not completely broken yet, but she's well on her way. The start of the movie, if anything, shows more of her internal struggle on the outside, while the rest of the movie leaves it a bit more understated. Still, I'm glad that, unlike Peeta's amputated leg and Katniss's hearing aid, it was not removed (or put in the back seat). They're still building up for the final movie, and that's understandable. For the time they had in this film, they did a pretty good job reminding the audience that Katniss is not made of steel.
  • Something being off with Coin. Maybe knowing what happens to Coin at the end is messing with my head, but I do think they showed a deliberate strangeness to Coin that made her seem not-quite-trustworthy. She's a bit robotic, a bit too calculated, a bit too hard—but in all the right ways, considering her final days. The end of the series was clearly not lost on the creators of the film, and for that I'm glad. Despite the disturbing amount of Hunger Games merchandise being sold (you'd think one of the main morals of the story wouldn't be totally lost to everyone), the moviemakers do seem to remember—at least politically—what the story is all about. It shows in Coin.
  • The eeriness of President Snow's white roses. One of the things that freaked me (and Katniss) out the most about Snow was his obsession with white roses. I remember reading a line where the mere smell of roses sends Katniss into a panic. The creators of the film employ this well throughout the movie, and it shows on Jennifer Lawrence's face each time they pop up. Snow wouldn't be quite as frightening as he is currently without his white roses—that's for sure.
  • Prim's dumb cat. Don't get me wrong, I love cats, even if Katniss may hate this particular one. While Prim's cat did little in the first movie (not that it was critical or anything), it is finally getting its well-deserved screen time in this one. I'm glad that he was able to shine a little in Mockingjay, and I hope they don't forget him for the painful end of the final movie. That's when he'll definitely do the most damage to the audience (including me!).
  • The Hanging Tree song. Not only did they nail the song on the head, they nailed it straight into my brain. Let's just say, without ruining the power of the moment by writing it down here, Katniss sings it in the most beautiful, haunting way possible—and then it rumbles all around in a scene to follow. Talk about powerful stuff. Better yet, now the children of YouTube will finally be able to do official covers! I know what I'm going to be listening to for the next month. There will be goosebumps.
  • Peeta's physical state, post-torture. A bit morbid, but it concerned me to see the previews where Peeta was in tip-top shape, all in white, and shiny as a new button. Don't be fooled. The movie destroys him as he was meant to be destroyed. They do the same sort of effect that I think they did on Steve Rogers to make him look small and, on Peeta, it's chilling. He may not have his prosthetic leg, as far as I can tell, but the filmmakers did not let him go on the hijacking. This destruction they stayed true to.
That's all I can think of for now, but I hope it gets you psyched up to go see the movie, if you haven't seen it already. While I'm confident that the final movie will shine much brighter than this one in terms of quality, this movie did a solid job setting up for the end while still being entertaining and staying true to the book (in some ways). Let me know what you think after you watch!

Much love,

T.