Warning: Potential spoilers may come about.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 was officially released November 21, 2014 and while fans are thrilled with the way director Francis Lawrence portrayed the first half of the final novel in the New York Times bestselling trilogy, a good percentage of critics appear to be dismayed. The biggest complaint about the movie is the lack of action, which to be completely honest, comes off as a weak reason to be so unimpressed given how truly beautiful the movie and story both are.
Anyone who has read Mockingjay already knows that the book itself is more slow paced and emotion driven than the other two books. After all, Katniss has just fought in two Hunger Games suffering from twice the PTSD and is now trapped inside of District 13, a district she wasn’t even aware existed. There’s also Peeta whom in Catching Fire, she made up her mind that if she were going to die it was going to be to keep Peeta alive and now he’s being tortured by President Snow. While President Coin (of District 13) wants to exploit Katniss in order to get everyone ready for war. Need I remind you, that Katniss is only about seventeen when all of this is happening and the critics biggest issue is that they don’t see the heartless, arrow wielding Katniss that Hollywood has falsely glorified her as.
Even the slow build gave the movie more of an impact by showing that the story has shifted. If Mockingjay was one movie instead of split into two, there would have been so much rushed and so much emotion cut out. Regardless of if it doesn’t feel like it at first, a lot really does happen in Mockingjay, but unlike the other books where everything is essentially leading to the games which is more action packed, Mockingjay is leading towards attempted recovery, battling with a war, and overall for Katniss, trying to find the “dandelion in the spring” when everywhere she looks is nothing but death and rubble.
Complaining that Katniss Everdeen cried too much for your taste in this movie is like wagging your finger at a war veteran and telling them to get it together and erase every single traumatic thing they have went through, then telling them, “Okay, go kill some guys for my pleasure.” Stop looking at Katniss as if she’s this emotionless, indestructible, superhero, especially when you all praise superheroes such as Steve Rogers and Tony Stark when they show any type of emotion. Just because Katniss is a woman does not mean that her crying, her feeling lost, her not knowing what is right, her wanting to give up, and her being broken all of a sudden makes her a weak character when in reality, Mockingjay did nothing but make her stronger. After all, be honest, would you ever be able to do anything Katniss has done and then proceed to willingly just jump into a war completely okay?
Everyone’s acting was stronger than I honestly expected. I figured they would do a lovely job as they have in the previous movies, but they all definitely broke the level of expectations for me. Elizabeth Banks did a beautiful and hilarious job as Effie Trinket and Woody Harrelson’s father-like chemistry with Jennifer Lawrence created a stronger dynamic between Haymitch and Katniss. As for newcomer Julianne Moore as President Coin (avoiding any real spoilers for non-book readers and fans who have yet to see the movie) I really love the way they wrote her character, hopefully, it’s going to make Part 2 even more powerful, I’ll just leave it at that.
Of course, I can’t talk about Mockingjay Part 1 without mentioning the amazingly heartbreaking performances from Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Sam Claflin. Lawrence and Claflin evoke emotion starting with the first shot of the movie and already everyone who has grown to love these characters feel a pain in their hearts over how broken they have become. Really my only complaint with Claflin was that they didn’t use him enough and what is a very important moment for his character, Finnick Odair, ends up being completely brushed over. Now the reason being for that is understandable while also pretty inexcusable considering what was said.
Josh Hutcherson really gives it his all in this movie despite the fact that we don’t see as much of him as I thought we would. The CGI team may be responsible for all the physicalities, but Josh’s emotion and use of his demeanor is Peeta from the books. While watching him, everything I’ve loved about Peeta going all the way back to the first book, comes flooding back and hitting me upside the head (a very dark humored joke.)
So sorry critics, but if you can’t accept that:
Katniss Everdeen is now a damaged girl in a country that has forced their young people to grow up too quickly
The Hunger Games was not meant to feed your savage pleasures
Mockingjay Part 1 wasn’t supposed to make you want violence and fighting but instead make you want peace for these troubled characters or
the emotion and true message that these books and movies were meant to deliver was not a praise for violence
Then neither Suzanne Collins nor Francis Lawrence missed the mark, you did.