Saturday, December 20, 2014

MOCKINGJAY PART 1: FILM REVIEW

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014)
Directed By: Francis Lawrence
Written By: Peter Craig and Danny Strong
Genre: ADVENTURE/SCI-FI
Rated: PG-13
Time: 123 min
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Donald Sutherland, and Julianne Moore.
Plot: When Katniss destroys the games, she goes to District 13 after District 12 is destroyed. She meets President Coin who convinces her to be the symbol of rebellion, while trying to save Peeta from the Capitol.

Comments: Now I am not a fan of the original film (what book did they read?), but Francis Lawrence gave me Katniss back with Catching Fire. He gave me the dress, the action, and a promise for freedom. So of course I have been excited to see the first part of Mockingjay. I have seen Mockingjay Part One twice in the theatres now. I am probably one of the few people that quite likes the book. While it may be the weakest of the trilogy, it is one that resonates heavily with me. Sure it doesn’t have the excitement of the two books that feature the Hunger Games, but it is a trilogy that could have not ended any other way for me.

Katniss has been through a lot and though she has been rescued and brought to fabled District 13, she is broken. To say that she has some severe PTSD would be an understatement. She’s passive, numb, and doesn’t know what to do next. But she will always be the girl on fire. She will always be a survivor. Sometimes, you just need a reminder. She has that reminder when she sees what President Snow has done to District 12. She has that reminder when she sees that Peeta is still alive. She certainly has that reminder when the hospital is destroyed. Jennifer Lawrence does an amazing job of showing all of that complexity, the pain, the fire, and the courage. Katniss never wanted any of this. She just wanted to save her sister. Now she is a symbol for an uprising. And nothing will ever be the same.

Seriously like I said Jennifer Lawrence is frakking amazing. Please act for many years to come Jennifer and continue to be your snarky, self-deprecating, awesome self. And shiny gold star to Josh Hutcherson. I am over my initial grumbles over Josh Hutcherson as Peeta. For me Peeta has always been the baker’s boy, the man able to lift heavy bags of wheat and flour, stocky and burly, but with a crush on Katniss since he was 5. Josh Hutcherson doesn’t exactly fit this description, but I have grown to like him. The films have changed a few things (like his prosthetic leg), but like I said I am over most of these things. The film Peeta is charismatic and when he comes back to District 13 he is utterly broken. I mean Holy crap, we knew we were going to see Peeta slowly collapse in front of our eyes and then with the return…yikes. He looks haunted, gaunt, confused, and then just crazy. Like I said Hutcherson gets a shiny gold star for the slow degeneration of Peeta’s sanity and health. The final scene of the film breaks my heart. He does such a great job. “It takes ten times as long to put yourself back together as it does to fall apart.”

Francis Lawrence continues to do a great job. And props to Danny Strong (so excited to see Buffy alums do amazing things) and Peter Craig for the screenplay. I absolutely loved the uprisings in Districts 7 and 5. While Katniss is the focus of the trilogy, there is also so much more going on. These rebellions show that. She was the spark and now everything is catching fire. Plus, seeing the different districts and the specialties of each really brings home Snow’s description of the Capitol being the heart of Panem and each district supplying the Capitol with the blood and nourishment needed. So when it begins to break down it is glorious to watch. Like I said, I liked seeing moments that were not directly connected to Katniss and Co as well. It just makes Panem seem more fleshed out and real.

Thank you to whomever arranged the Hanging Tree song. Reading it in the novel, I love the haunting little ballad but this film brought it to life. I love hearing Jennifer Lawrence sing it and cannot imagine it sounding any other way. Adding it to my murder ballad playlist (a new favored genre by the way). Hearing the other Districts sing it as the song of the Revolution was great. That whole scene with the dam was wonderful.

I so have some gripes on the film. The book is better I am afraid and I am worried that things that were important to me in the book won’t have the same impact because they are either omitted from the films or downplayed considerably. The hospital scene was completely wrong as it needed to foreshadow the things that Gale is willing to do (important in the next half).

One: There is no love triangle. When I was reading the books there was definitely a Team Gale and a Team Peeta. I suppose in a way it is less a triangle and more an evolution of Katniss and her feelings. Gale was the one who knew her before the games, the love of her childhood and adolescence. He is her past. He is so much like her with all of that fire and rage. But Peeta is her future. He is the dandelion in the Spring. No one can ever understand the things that they have gone through except each other. He is the hope and that acknowledgement that they are survivors. It becomes clear halfway through Catching Fire that Gale and Katniss could never have future together. They are now two different people. But I still wanted to see this evolution in the films because it is important. In this film Katniss and Gale have none of the chemistry that they had. Apparently it has always been Team Peeta.

Two: I wanted more Finnick. Why? Because I want his death to matter. I want to be gutted by it. I want to have a Wash moment. Finnick is a wonderful character because of how much we see his character change. When we first meet Finnick he is an arrogant hottie who seems shallow and completely not trustworthy. But over the course of two books we discover that Finnick is so much more. He is funny, loyal, and trustworthy. His love for Annie is so amazing and he has been through so much just like Peeta, Katniss, and Joanna. Layers people. Layers.

Three: I love Julianne Moore, but her President Coin is way too nice. The President Coin I read does not like Katniss. In fact she would have her dead and a Martyr. Katniss is a pawn and a tool and I wanted to see that. I wanted to see that she is just as bad as Snow. Instead I saw a woman who was stereotypically military in nature and not that bad really. In fact I kind of empathized with her. I feel like I needed some clue that she will send Peeta with Katniss in the second half in hopes that he will kill Katniss, and that she is the one who was just as willing to sacrifice children in order to make a point. Again, I want her death to make a point and to matter.

Four: "I kill Snow" it is one of Katniss’s demands and a pretty important one. Perhaps it will end up being one of her demands for the Star Squad. It is the only reason she joins and helps keep her going when all things are lost. I think it’s important to Katniss’s character. We already know she has nightmares of killing Marvel, nightmares that continue to haunt. So it is important to note that if she kills Snow, he will always be with her. He will haunt her. But it is something she is willing to do, something she feels she has to do.

Rent/Cinema? Cinema. The only way to see Katniss and crew is on the big screen. Worth my money even if I did have a few gripes.

4/4 popcorns

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