Mockingjay Part 1 premieres today, but due to a ridiculous theater schedule I was able to see it last evening. (Seriously, since when are 8 PM screenings a thing? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of midnight premieres? Oh, well.) AND IT WAS SO GOOD.
Because I like lists, I’ve decided to write this review in list format.
Oh! I almost forgot to say: This review is not spoilery. I’m not going to tell you where the two films have been split or anything like that. (But I will say that my mental prediction for that was right, yay!)
NOTE: I can’t guarantee a spoiler-free comment section, though, so consider yourself warned!
1. The Games’ psychological effects on Katniss were realistically explored
She has PTSD. She snaps at people quite often. She spends a lot of the movie crying. (Ditto Finnick.) It’s not very pleasant, but what do you expect? She’s just been through two Hunger Games and now her country is in the midst of a rebellion – so cut her some slack!
It seems as if almost everyone but me hated Mockingjay. I actually liked the third book because it brought the readers into unknown territory. Instead of telling about another Games, it told how events of the previous books had hurt Katniss. It’s very different from The Hunger Games and Catching Fire – slower-paced, basically – but I loved it because it shows a very different side of war. Two-thirds of the trilogy are about victory; the final installment is about the cost of that victory.
2. Prim is growing up and IT’S SO ADORABLE
I’ll admit it: I used to dislike Prim. And then I realized that was silly of me! I mean, she’s twelve when the trilogy begins – of course she’s going to spend the first few books crying and not doing much, because she’s still a little girl.
But she’s grown up since we last saw her. Now she’s going to be a doctor and she’s wise beyond her years and oh my gosh I’m so proud of her. (I get waaaaay too attached to fictional characters.) YAY FOR PRIM.
3. Effie has this thing called character development
And it’s great. Watching her slow transition from over-the-top Capitol fashion and attitudes has been very interesting. She’s much kinder now, too.
4. Lorde’s “Yellow Flicker Beat” was an amazing end credits song
I love the credits song of book-to-film adaptations but seriously, my reactions to all the Hunger Games movie songs are so weird. I always go through a period of “this doesn’t sound right for this movie” and then I listen some more and go “OH MY GOD THE LYRICS MAKE SO MUCH SENSE.”
Oh my god, this song’s lyrics make so much sense.
5. The District 12 scenes made me sadder than I expected to be
And I think I know why: I don’t imagine violent/gruesome scenes in much detail. I get easily grossed out by that stuff! So when I read the book I just pictured smoldering ruins… not bodies.
6. District 13 looked much more futuristic than I expected it to be
Why did this surprise me so much? This story is set in the future, for heaven’s sake! And District 13 is incredibly advanced compared to the others, especially compared to backwards District 12.
Anyway, I guess I was expecting their rooms to be little caves blasted out of the rock… but they weren’t. There was lots of metal and machinery and stuff everywhere. VERY COOL. In an apocalyptic way.
After watching Mockingjay Part 1, I arrived at two conclusions:
- This movie is filled with lots of pretty ladies and, happily, none of them died
- I have a crush on Natalie Dormer in basically every movie/TV show that I’ve seen that had her in it (and there are quite a few that I would like to see just because she played a role in them)
And I know she played a tiny role in this movie (and in the next one) but OH MY GOSH SHE’S SO PRETTY JUST LOOK AT HER. (Gosh, I’m overusing caps lock in this post, aren’t I? Wow.) Sure, she’s played much bigger roles before, but on the other hand her hair is awesome in this movie. And so is her face. And I seem to have spiraled down the path of pointless fangirling, but I’m not going to apologize that because I was really excited to see her in this movie.
(Also, apparently she’s been telling interviewers that she was in “Hunger Game of Thrones” and if that’s not adorable, then I don’t know what is.)
8. I LOVED the propos scenes
Jennifer Lawrence pretending to Katniss pretending to be someone who can actually act? YES, PLEASE. It was sooooo amusing because, as Haymitch pointed out, when Katniss does scripted things she’s super awkward and not a convincing rebel leader at all.
9. I appreciate Buttercup
Prim’s cat kind of stole the show, didn’t it? I mean, the first two movies were by no means a barrel of laughs but Mockingjay Part 1 is REALLY DARK and to be honest, most of its very sparse humor came from that ridiculous cat. This movie really made my emotions go up and down – one minute I was crying and the next minute I was giggling as Katniss played the classic “can the kitty catch the flashlight beam?” game with Buttercup.
10. Their rendition of “The Hanging Tree” is SUPERB
I am so so so so glad the filmmakers hired James Newton Howard as composer again; he worked on the first two movies and wrote some really amazing stuff. Mockingjay Part 1‘s film score hasn’t been released in full yet and I thought about not reviewing this movie until I’d heard all of it, but… I really wanted to give you my opinions of the movie TODAY so I’m just going to write about the one song that has been released.
Because it’s awesome.
If you’ve read the books, you probably remember that scene where Katniss sings “The Hanging Tree” during a propo. Well, Jennifer Lawrence sings her bit quite well – it’s very simple and understated – but then there’s a choir. A CHOIR. While reading the book I didn’t pay very much attention to the song, but Newton Howard evidently has a better sense of rhythm and diction than I do, and turned it into a beautiful yet haunting piece of music. The choir really showcases and mirrors the powerful effect Katniss has on the other Districts.
(“The Hanging Tree” plays during the attack on the dam in District 5, but if you stay for the credits there’s a reprise after “Yellow Flicker Beat.”)
11. Johanna has SO MUCH ATTITUDE
I love Johanna. I love her attitude. She doesn’t even have very many scenes in this movie, but when she is onscreen she’s just so done with everyone else and it’s great.
12. I knew Peeta would look horrible, but I still wasn’t fully prepared for that
Probably because of that not-interested-in-imagining-violence thing I mentioned above. Peeta’s always been so, I don’t know, youthful and strong and handsome and confident, and then he’s… not. YOU POOR THING. (Someone needs to give Josh Hutcherson an Oscar for that performance.)
So, what’s my final verdict on Mockingjay Part 1? Overall, I was really pleased. I won’t say that the film is problem-free, because that wouldn’t be true. HOWEVER, I think those problems were unavoidable and that the filmmakers did the best they could. I mean, it’s (roughly) half a story – of course it’s going to feel a little awkward! The movie begins in the middle of a story and ends in the middle of a story.
But was it accurate to the book? Did it have beautiful cinematography and music? Was the acting believable? Yes, yes, and yes. I loved the books and I love this film series as well; spotting the subtle differences between each new movie has been very interesting. Mockingjay Part 1 is emotionally powerful, introspective, darker, and more grown-up than its predecessors and is definitely worth watching.