Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part One | Directed by Francis Lawrence | Screenplay by Danny Strong and Peter Craig

*This contains SPOILERS for those who haven't read Mockingjay AND some minor stuff for those who have not seen the movie yet.
Katniss Everdeen has already been through the Hunger Games. Twice. But danger for her - and all of Panem - is far from over. A revolution is beginning because of her spark, and now she must accept her role as the face of the rebellion. Violence is taking over. And Peeta, who Katniss has always strived to protect, is still in the hands of the Capitol. Mockingjay Part One, like the other films (and books) of this series is packed with emotional turmoil and action, making it an excellent (though 100% accurate) adaptation.
In my review of the book in 2011, I talked about how strongly impacted I was by the book. In fact, I even mentioned having no intention to see the films when they'd come out because I loved them too much to see anything go wrong. But, the first movie's trailer convinced me that everything would work out, and it did. Jennifer Lawrence is a perfect Katniss and Josh Hutcherson makes a great Peeta. But weirdly enough, they've decided to split this movie into two parts as they did with the Harry Potter and Twilight series. I wasn't thrilled about this decision: How could they possibly make a 300-something paged book into two effective movies? After all, even though they improvised well with Breaking Dawn, that 700-something paged book could have been one single film.
The thing to remember is that the films show more than what's going on in Katniss' head, the books do not. It demonstrates the difference between what works for a book and what works for a movie. That being said, it definitely works here. In fact, some of the parts I thought would be less-effective on screen were cut down and the ones that would work best on screen were amplified. I was surprised, however, that they cut out certain things like the mystery behind District 13, but in the grand scheme I can see why it was necessary for time constraints and to really get the ball rolling right away.
I definitely think they split Mockingjay in two in just the right spot... If I was a person who hasn't read the books and just watched the movies, I'd be SO PISSED about such a cliffhanger, but as someone who has read the book, I'm primarily just worried about Part Two. I'm not worried that they'll mess it up or anything; I'm worried about the general content overall. My emotional reaction to the last half of this book was off the charts (perhaps the strongest reaction I've ever had to any book, along with Yann Martel's Life of Pi coming in second), and there have been plenty of times where my initial response doubles when I see a film adaptation because the actors in my head as I read weren't as effective as the ones on screen. Jennifer Lawrence does an amazing job at conveying raw emotion... And I know what's coming next... I don't think I'm going to handle it very well. Even in Part One, I became sad remembering the fate of a certain character.
I suppose in some ways this can hardly even be considered a review because I'm hardly reviewing anything... And really, there's not much to critique. Everything was done well, from the acting, to the script, to the special effects and everything in between. The only two things these movies haven't done as effectively as the books is really make me love Gale, be able to picture him with Katniss, and make me adore Finnick as much as I did when reading Mockingjay... They probably could have squeezed in a few more moments with Katniss and Finnick; those two characters could really relate to each other in the first half of Mockingjay and were able to struggle together. So, not perfect (because absolute perfection is impossible in the world of book-to-film adaptations), but it's still one hell of a good movie. There won't be much disappointment.

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