It’s November, so you know what that means! Yep, yesterday afternoon my friend Tiffany and I took ourselves directly to the nearest theater to see Mockingjay: Part 1. The first year, we stood in line for The Hunger Games midnight showing. The second year, we opted for the 7 PM showing on Thursday night and left the wee hours of the morning to the younger movie-watching generation. This year, we skipped opening day altogether and went on Sunday. I’m not sure what next year holds, but I feel like we’re definitely moving in a specific direction…
I’ll state another potentially unpopular opinion since, well, it’s my blog. 🙂 I did not hate the book that this movie was based on.* I know it’s a kind of terrible book by way of death and destruction and whatnot. There wasn’t really another way for Suzanne Collins to end it, in my opinion. SPOILER ALERT! DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK! And what happens at the end of the book…these characters have spent their whole lives in this completely screwed up system of a government and when it’s finally over, it’s almost like they don’t know what to do or how to feel. Sure, it was a “happy” ending, but with all that’s happened there’s no way they could walk away and go forward unscathed. And that’s how I felt when I finished the book. Glad that the ending was what it was but almost like I didn’t know what to do with myself. And that, I think, is the brilliance of Mockingjay. She made the readers feel what the characters did. END SPOILER ALERT.
But getting back to the movie. To say that I liked it feels weird because of how grim the whole tale was. It’s darker than the previous two movies in a lot of ways. I mean that figuratively and even literally – the lighting in general is darker because they’re underground the majority of the time in District 13. And the stakes are higher. You can feel the tension and that point of no return early on in the movie.
First of all, let’s just say this: the actors in this movie are incredible…and the movie was rightfully dedicated to Philip Seymour Hoffman. You lose a little bit of Katniss in this movie if you haven’t read the book. There’s so much going on in her mind as she analyzes the situation, herself, and those around her. But I thought that Jennifer Lawrence did an admirable job. I was dubious about Julianne Moore playing President Coin, but she was brilliant – eerily calm and measured in everything she did. And Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson were perfect in their parts as well. Oh, and Elizabeth Banks in her role as Effie was just the amount of comedic relief that was appropriate for the subject matter and she managed to shine despite being a “political refugee” (her words, not mine).
In all honesty, I kept getting distracted by the way the movie makers brought this book to life. The rubble of Districts that had crumbled was believable and you could almost feel the damp cement walls of the District 13 bunker. I’m not sure how much was accomplished with physical sets as opposed to CGI and green screen, but the effect was really something.
I had a friend at work that saw an early release of the movie. I practically grabbed her by the lapels and demanded that she tell me at what point the movie ends. I needed to be prepared because when I was reading the book, I threw it across the room at one point. And lo and behold that part was the one they ended on.
SPOILER ALERT IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK OR SEEN THE MOVIE AND WANT TO!
When Peeta’s hands close over Katniss’ throat…man. I’m glad I knew that it was ending at that part because I needed to emotionally steel myself. I both hate and admire Suzanne Collins for that little twist. But mostly I hate her. (Just kidding. Kind of.) END SPOILER ALERT #2. I’m so spoil-y tonight!
I still hold to my earlier view about the whole series – against the backdrop of such darkness and depravity, the light of character shines more brightly. Loyalty. Love. Sacrifice. Compassion. So, in my opinion, the movie is well worth watching.
*Certain members of my craft group, who shall remain nameless, call books based on movie the “visual book”. As in, watching the movie is the same as listening to an audiobook or reading the written book. It’s not. Just for the record.
P.S. Yellow Flicker Beat, the song Lorde recorded for the movie soundtrack is pure brilliance. I downloaded it immediately and you should, too. I mean, if you’re into that sort of music. 😉