The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

MV5BMTA2OTM5MjQ0OTZeQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU4MDg3MzcyMDEx._V1__SX1859_SY847_The Hunger Games books, as I have said elsewhere, had a glaring flaw: I eventually stopped liking the narrator. As I have also said elsewhere[1], the movies have taught me that this is because of how much Katniss Everdeen doesn’t like herself. The third book has been split into two movies[2], and at least in this first half, the trend of Jennifer Lawrence portraying a much better Katniss than she ever portrayed herself through her narration continues like gangbusters.

See, there’s this civil war going on, right? Over the last two years’ Hunger Games, Katniss has demonstrated (accidentally? on purpose? does it matter, though?) that the Capitol can be fought, so now people are fighting back. Plus also there’s a secret rebel army that was lightly foreshadowed and a big propaganda war and all kinds of things that would be pretty big spoilers, so trust me: plotwise, it’s pretty okay.

But mostly what I have to say is more praise for Ms. Lawrence. Because, well, here’s the thing. I am quoting past me, after having read the entire trilogy: “the movie will succeed or fail on the strength of their Haymitch actor alone. That guy? He’s compelling.” And you know what? Woody Harrelson has done an outstanding job. But I was so very wrong, and it’s because I didn’t think Katniss could be redeemed. Instead, when I watch these movies, I see the character that the people of the Districts fell in love with, not the self-loathing, self-doubting emotional mess from the books. And the fact that she still lashes out with the same anger, collapses with the same grief, capriciously flits from one of her two men to the next and back… it was never about her actions, it was about her emotions, and this is a character I can get behind.

There’s still a movie left, but if it succeeds as well as the rest have, this will be my favorite adaptation of a series by a long mile. It kept everything good and jettisoned everything bad, and that pretty much never happens.

[1] At least, I think I have in print? Certainly I have aloud.
[2] I find myself wishing this was less common. It’s cool and all that, to my two year old memory, they are filming every scene in the book. But book adaptations are an art, and while I have nothing to complain about regarding this particular film, it nevertheless seems like a bit of a cheat to not have to go to the effort of actually adapting the book after all. Plus blah blah blah cynical money-grubbing studios, I suppose.

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