The Coincidental Critic

Exploring the art of storytelling.

Mockingjay – Part 1: The Beginning of the End (SPOILERS)

katniss-featured-in-new-poster-for-the-hunger-games-mockingjay-part-1

The opening scene for “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” was perfect.  It started out with Katniss in the fetal position muttering, “My name is Katniss Everdeen.  My home was District 12.  I was in the Hunger Games.  I escaped.  Peta…Peta was left behind.”  Immediately, we were reminded of where we left off and were introduced to Katniss’s current mental state.  Jennifer Lawrence’s performance was very powerful.  She expressed Katniss’s frustration, anger, fear, exhaustion, and confusion through her stuttered and quivering speech.

Haymitch had the perfect entrance in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1.”  His first appearance was after Katniss attempted to act out her first propo.  He was sassy, commenting on how bad Katniss’s acting was.  What I love about the character of Haymitch is that he always is true himself, even if he may be a bit blunt at times.

When Katniss went to visit District 12, director, Francis Lawrence, choose to show Katniss’s reaction to what she was seeing before letting us see the debris ourselves.  This allowed us to understand Katniss’s emotion and also created a sense of suspense before revealing the damage.  This was a great decision made by F. Lawrence.

Peta stole the show in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1.”  Throughout the film, we watch Peta’s transformation from the charismatic victor to a tortured young soul.  This was perfectly presented in the film because of the combination of skillful acting and elaborate make-up.  Josh Hutcherson’s performance in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” was his best performance I’ve seen to date.  He portrayed Peta’s change with such precision.  His eyes watered, and he stuttered through his speech.  Hutcherson carried his poignant performance all the way to the end, topping it off with the spine tingling final scene.  It’s not easy to portray something you’ve never experienced before, let alone prepare your body and mind to delve into that state.  In addition to Hucherson’s acting, the make-up team did an amazing job in making Peta’s physical change come to life.  Each time Peta appeared on the screen, his eyes were redder, circles darker, and body skinnier.  By the end of the film, he was hardly recognizable.

The bombing scene at District 13 was more intense and engaging in the film than in the book.  I was sitting on the edge of my seat the whole time and really feared for everyone’s life.  Just like the rest of the ensemble, I jumped every time a bomb hit.  I didn’t realize how dangerous this situation was when reading the book.

Since the film version of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” was not solely in Katniss’s point of view, we were able to see more of the rebellion in the other districts.  It was interesting to see what the rebels were up to.  We also got to see the effects the rebellion was having on the Capitol, such as the power outage.  And we even got to see the exciting rescue of the victors.  Along with this, these scenes were the most visually stunning, like when the rebels blew up the dam in District 7.

In contrast to the book, Effie helped Katniss prepare for her propos instead of Katniss’s usual prep team.  This makes sense in the scheme of things.  In the films, Effie has had a much more central focus than Katniss’s prep team.  However, because of this, the film lacked the incidence when Katniss found her prep team tied up in District 13.  This is the event that causes Katniss to start questioning District 13, which is important for the events at the end of the series (unless the production team plans to end the film differently than that of the book).  It was the correct choice to have Effie be the one responsible for prepping Katniss for the propos instead of the full team, but Effie should have faced the same struggles the team had in the book.  Effie should have been mistreated in order to illustrate that District 13 isn’t as perfect as it seems.

One of my favorite scenes in the book was when Haymitch said, “I want everyone to think of one incident where Katniss Everdeen genuinely moved you…I want to hear one moment when she made your feel something real,” and one by one, people revealed that Katniss was an inspiration to them.  This did not come across the same way in the film.  In the film, it was mostly Effie who spoke positively of Katniss.  There were fewer people in the room, but they could have divvied up the lines amongst them.  Because of this, the scene was far less powerful in the film than it was in the book.  In the book, I thought, “Wow, Katniss has really touch so many people,” but in the movie, I thought that Effie was just trying too hard and that Katniss previous actions weren’t that important.

My favorite character in the series is Finnick.  In “Mockingjay,” we learned a lot more about President Snow’s influence on Finnick.  During a propo, Finnick revealed that President Snow sold Finnick’s body.  Spending time with a variety of people in the Capitol, Finnick learned about the secrets of President Snow.  This was a very poignant part of the book.  Not only did we learn about Finnick’s tragic past, we also learned that Katniss was not the only victor that fell victim to President Snow.  The conflict with President Snow is a much bigger issue.  Unfortunately, I was not satisfied with how Finnick’s speech was presented in the film.  It was shown at the same time as when the group from District 13 rescued the victors from the Capitol.  I did like that the creative team choose to show the rescue on film; however, I did not like how it was cut in with Finnick’s speech.  Finnick’s speech is supposed to be deep and solemn, while the rescue is suspenseful.  It just didn’t mesh.  Also, in the film, it appeared that Katniss was more interested in the rescue (which I don’t blame her, it was more exciting), but in the book, Finnick’s speech was very important to Katniss.  While watching the film, it was hard to keep up with what Finnick was saying because it kept shifting between the two scenes.  It would have been better if the two scenes weren’t so choppy or if one occurred after the other, like if we saw Finnick film the propo, and then during the rescue, had them mention that the speech was being broadcast by verbally saying it or showing muted clips of it in the background.

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1” was a great movie.  It was suspenseful, tense, and exciting.    It had great acting and an amazing crew that made the story come alive off the pages of the book.  While the film was less focused on Katniss than the book, it excelled when it came to illustrating the effects of the rebellion across Panem.  I can’t wait for the final installment to come to theaters.

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