Best and Worst of Mockingjay Part 1 (MOVIE EDITION)

It’s that time of year when Best and Worst of the Year Lists abound. We know the haters gonna hate (and clickbait), so as an antidote, here’s a Mockingjay Part 1 movie version from people who write about Hunger Games stuff just cause we love it.

Stay tuned for a Best and Worst of the Mockingjay Part 1 marketing campaign later in the week (heh heh, so fun).

WHAT WE LOVED

Peeta’s Interview Scenes

We’re Peeta fans for life at Victor’s Village, so we tend to love ALL Peeta scenes (in the Francis Lawrence era movies at least). We knew that Peeta time would be scarce in this one, even with that bonus “Stay With Me – Always” Catching Fire scene redux.  Peeta’s progression from healthy to emaciated, shaking ball of pain was done so well it hurt even more than we imagined. From Josh’s acting, to the wardrobe choices, and that CGI, it was so well done.

mockingjay-part-1-peeta-beatenHijacked Peeta

Yes, this gets its own call out. Josh said that he went for it, and YEAH HE REALLY DID. And it made the strangling scene all the more disturbing, as well as the final scene of the film which has haunted us every day since opening night. Great job bringing that to life, we’re scared (in the best way) to see more of this transformation.

Effie Winning our Hearts, and Bringing Some Much Needed Comic Relief

Effie’s character development in the movies, and what Elizabeth Banks has done with the role has added so much to these movies. THANK YOU, thank you for making a change from the book to include Effie in District 13. She brought comic relief and her growing relationship with Katniss was touching to see. We don’t mind changes from the book when they’re so lovingly and purposefully done.

cf vs mj previewDistrict 12’s Horror Brought to Life

The devastation of the firebombs on District 12 was brought to life in such staggering scale. In my limited mind it wasn’t quite so awful. Now I see things more realistically, and the evil of Snow is that more evident.

If You Thought Snow Was a Bad Dude Before…

All around, this movie franchise is blessed with actors who have done a stellar job bringing the characters to life. I’ve already mentioned two in just this post. Donald Sutherland has upped the ante with Snow in this chapter. In the hands of a different actor the level of callousness and evil could verge on campy or ridiculously monstrous. Sutherland’s Snow radiates power and resolve to maintain his order at any cost, and you don’t hesitate to believe it.

District 7 Rebels

We made fun of it a bit when we saw the fast climbing lumberjacks in the teaser trailer. But hey, that scene as a whole delivered for me. When the rebels blew the peacekeepers to bits, I was cheering along with them.

Bonding Time Between Katniss and that Damn Cat

Earlier in the year, we were excited that the crazy cat scene would be included in the film. That’s not the scene I’m talking about here. What I loved was when Katniss found Buttercup crawling through the window of her Victor’s Village home. Again, some much needed levity in a very dark scene. Well timed meows and lots of disdain from Katniss. Perfect.

The Hanging Tree Sequence

It’s not just the song, or just the arrangement, it’s how the sequence was all put together to start as a solemn end to the trip back to District 12, to the rebel attack on the District 5 dam. Including this song was a risky move, it could have driven the movie to a halt and felt very out of place in a whut when did this become a musical bout of confusion but it was woven into the story so well that there would be a gaping hole within the movie without it now.

Every Second of Jennifer Lawrence

Sure, tell the fun BTS stories of how she’s so jokey on set. But at the end of the day, the moments that Francis Lawrence captured of her on film are pure Katniss. She owns this role. For those 2 hours she is completely Katniss Everdeen.

WHAT WE DIDN’T LOVE

primPrim Going After the Damn Cat

Listen, we all have affection for that cat. I loved Katniss’s interaction with Buttercup in Victor’s Village. But I don’t like the scene of Prim going after her cat during the air raid from the book and it’s my least favorite part of the movie. I know Prim is only 13, has lost a lot, and she’s very attached to the cat, but it’s just so cliche that it makes me groan every time. I know plenty of people who would risk life and limb for their pets, but it feels out of place in both the book and movie. And the whole countdown  “oops Gale barely made it through the doors before it crushed him” sense of urgency is a bit too heavy on the “made it just in time” trope.

The Prolonged Rescue Scene that Showed Us Too Little

I’m happy we got the rescue scene in the film. Extra scenes from the book are a fun movie bonus. And arguably the night-vision and the gas bombs help to create an accurate representation of the visual confusion of being there and help build tension. But I would’ve liked to see more from those sequences. We basically saw some stairwells, creepy test tubes and syringes, and then some empty cells. The sequence went on far too long in comparison to what they actually showed us. COME ON SHOW US MORE.

Lastly, Not Enough Peeta. Or Johanna. Or Annie.

Cheap shot, sure! And unavoidable unless they were going to add more Capitol scenes. BUT TRUE. There’s a Peeta/Snow scene that may make the DVD features, but overall, I do wish we saw a little bit of them in the Capitol.

Are you mad at me for saying Prim should’ve abandoned the cat? Buttercup would’ve been fine anyway. That thing’s indestructible.

JJ

 

Advertisements

13 comments

  1. Haha! You’re probably right about Buttercup–and I know you’re right about the too cute ‘doors closing’ trope. I liked the rescue scene for it’s references to Zero Dark Thirty, but they seemed to be wandering around in this vast, largely empty hotel for much too long.

    And yes, yes! Josh nailed it and I was rather surprised and very glad.

  2. Re The Best, Tortured Peeta, totally agree, but re hijacked Peeta, while I thought the strangulation scene was intense and effective, I actually thought all the writhing around in the end scene was a little too — well, I guess a little too over the top, more of a “what the average person would imagine a homicidally insane psychotic person to do” than what they’d really do, at least at first. However, the moment Peeta lets the restraints go slack, I thought Josh nailed the fear and confusion and hopelessness that Peeta is likely experiencing at that point.

    Re The Worst, I totally agree about the rescue scene, it reminded me of some of the unnecessarily drawn-out action sequences in the Harry Potter films, and I’d also add that while I thought Sam’s take on the Finnick Reveals Everything scene was wonderful, the way they shot the scene in split screen, I think resulted in his monologue being completely overshadowed, and I doubt the average casual movie-only fan realized exactly what he was revealing. In the book, this moment forces Katniss to re-evaluate her perceptions of Finnick completely and feel horrible about misjudging him, but I didn’t get any sense of that from the movie version.

    And while I usually don’t like to blame the PG-13 rating for movie flaws, and agree with Time Traveling Bunny that “PG-13 is NOT G”, in this case I do wonder if the rating affected how they shot the scene. Not that mentions of prostitution are automatically taboo in PG-13, in fact many old black and white Hayes Code Era movies (the kind shown on TMC) actually do mention prostitution or even have characters who are prostitutes, although of course they’re not actually shown engaging in their profession.

    However, much as male frontal nudity gets you a higher rating than female frontal nudity, I do wonder if the idea of male prostitution and the idea that yes, men can be sexually exploited and suffer from it, was thought to be too controversial to highlight? Unfortunately, many people (both male and female) believe that “it’s impossible to rape a man” (or at least that it’s impossible for a woman to do so), it seems men do because they don’t like to think of themselves as victims and women do because they’d rather see sexual assault as a feminist issue where men are always the perps and women are always the victims.

    1. I thought about that too (the rating as consideration for that Finnick Reveals Everything). The way I took how that scene played out in the movie is that the focus was given on its role on the Rescue rather than the Why/cruelty Finnick experienced. I guess the filmmakers stayed much more on Katniss/D13’s perspective (focus on the rescue team) which contributed to the Finnick’s monologue being overshadowed as you say- compared to say, if they have shown reaction shots of people in the Capitol. (To average movie goer, the impact of what he was disclosing is lost because for them, How is he a Distraction such that he can/is guaranteed to command attention from the people of Panem to great extent that will be crucial to diverting attention from the rescue)

      Haymitch is in rehab, I know he is perfect in the scenes he is in. But the last time we saw of him in Catching Fire- Katniss was so angry with him. The transition here to Mockingjay… I dunno… (Maybe because for me he completes the Trio in the story in addition to Katniss and Peeta, and him being a Victor, Mentor and all roles he plays for that are important to Katniss, I think there could have been more scenes with him.)

    2. Well said, satsumarena! I too thought Peeta’s maniacal struggling was over the top until he paused and got that look of total fear and loss.

      I was saddened that Finnick’s tale got lost in the overdramatic rescue, and I wonder if they left it in simply for the book fans. It does nothing for the plot & doesn’t seem to change Katniss’ (or the viewer’s) opinion of Finnick.

  3. Regarding the Rescue Scene, I think that the movie version of the Finnick propo was NOT that his revelations would shock the Capitol people enough to provide cover for rescue mission, instead the idea was that the TV feed itself would disrupt the Capitol electronics. So I really do think they purposefully downplayed his revelations. I’m also wondering if they thought Finnick being sold would somehow detract from the validity of his relationship with Annie.

    I’d also state that I thought the whole “Katniss video-chats with Snow” aspect was bordering on weird cliche-ness for me too. Of course, better that then having them totally warp canon by having her actually go to the Capitol to rescue Peeta, but still, bordered on implausible to me.

    One of the great things about the original story is that SC did NOT fall into the trap of making Katniss TOO Important. Yes she is the catalyst for rebellion, but she doesn’t lead it. She doesn’t succeed in her “mission to kill Snow” and gets a lot of people killed in the process – a lesser writer would have not dared to tackle such a story arc. And it seems quite obvious that the only reason the “tribute rescue mission” succeeded (in both the book and movie) was because Snow WANTED it to (in the book, Katniss muses that Snow would likely have set Peeta free if they hadn’t gone into rescue him).

    I also thought Boggs’ facial expressions during the mission were kinda weird and made it look like he was scared out of his mind, but maybe that’s just me. In general, unlike the book where it seemed Boggs had assumed a fatherly role towards Katniss and this explained why he’d turn against Coin, I didn’t get any sense that they’d bonded in the movie (possibly because the Finnick underwear scene was cut?).

    Also agree with the weird lack of anger by Katniss toward Haymitch.

    Another peeve; they cut Enobaria, so who’s going to vote “yes” along with Johanna? Though I suppose they could still have her return at the end and say she was hiding somewhere. Or have Coin herself be the 7th voter. Maybe the whole “Haymitch realizes Katniss is plotting something with her yes and votes yes to break the tie” part will be reworked? This was confusing even in the book and it could be even more confusing in the movie.

    Okay, done venting for now. But in general, my peeves with the movie were fairly minor and I actually liked it better than the first two.

    And re good parts, I also thought that, while Liam is certainly not the standout member of the main trio, he did do decently as Gale, especially the “don’t worry, it will pass” line, and I think having him personally describe what happened in D12 was a great way to put that information in the movie. (In the book, we only find out secondhand through Katniss’s narration). It certainly helps to explain his motivations. I also thought Part 1 provided ample foreshadowing for the crumbling of his friendship with Katniss.

    1. Re Finnick Revelation – Yes, I think that the purposefully done it that way.

      Aside from the things mentioned here, I also like the scene of Katniss and Coin where Coin said there has to be “sacrifices” made. It was a turn for both of their characters. In that scene for me, Coin is becoming more transparent with her real intentions and the way Katniss reacts as she distances herself from Coin and Katniss turning away from her- I like that scene so much. Katniss is burdened by the sacrifices other people make, whereas Coin… she wears a smile on her face.

      1. I hadn’t caught that (about Coin’s approach to sacrifices) but well said. I tended to think that scene was just meant to be Coin trying to reach out to Katniss, being brushed off, and deciding that since Katniss isn’t really supporting her, she is a threat. But certainly the end of Part 1 and the contrast between Coin’s speech that gives a very positive, triumphant spin regarding the Rescue, and Katniss’s utter devastation, gave me that idea as well.

    2. (I am sorry this part I accidentally deleted before posting my previous reply)

      It is just that going along the ‘propaganda’ theme (grabbing people’s attention, engaging them and moving them to act, etc) – how the cruelty one experienced is just a tool for others to pursue their cause (both good and bad causes) is why the Finnick revelation has much more impact on the readers of the book, I guess. (Imagine the torture for the abused to recall the abuse. It takes all that is left with you.) But I understand why it was ‘downplayed’ in the movie. 🙂 (and this is the last time I am going to comment on this. Hahaha!)

      I think that the Rescue part was edited well.

  4. Obviously the last few scenes were some of the best part. Seriously did not expect them to show Peeta as that emaciated. And the very last scene looks like something Kubrick could have made.

    Katniss signing the Hanging Tree was indeed a highlight.
    However, the seemingly inspirational tone they took with the dam bombing rubbed me the wrong way. I could just be overthinking things but, disregarding what likely happened to all the civilian workers and anybody downstream, if you’re going to be taking back YOUR OWN land, destroying a dam is about the dumbest thing you could do.
    Not saying that it shouldn’t have been shown (it was a cool scene), but it shouldn’t have been shown as heroic.

    D13 was a source of both a highlight and a quibble:
    A highlight in that they showed the wretched hivemind mentality of the place.
    Quibble in that they squandered an opportunity to showcase the more brutal aspects; IE having Effie replace the prep team.

    Last but not least: Eddy, the little prick.
    And nobody asked about Peeta.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s