As good as it could be? What does that mean?
If you read the series, I think you know what I’m talking about it. It’s a common feeling that Mockingjay was readers’ least favorite of the series. It was slow and really dark and maybe even a little anticlimactic? I didn’t hate the ending as much as a lot of people did. I thought it was actually very realistic, and truly what would’ve happened in this post-apocalyptic world. I liked that it wasn’t all tied up with a bow (lol bow–no pun intended.)
So, I already had lower expectations for pts. 1 and 2 of Mockingjay than I did for Hunger Games and Catching Fire (the latter being the strongest film to me). I think most of the people that were upset hadn’t read the books and were expecting this epic conclusion. But this is the problem with these kinds of franchises. They are so exciting in the beginning because the idea is so fresh and dynamic. I still remember diving into this series and being obsessed throughout the entirety of the first book and I couldn’t wait for more.
But by the end of these types of series, it almost becomes too big of an idea to feel special anymore. When I was in the midst of reading Mockingjay, I was kind of just ready for it to be over. It wasn’t enjoyable to read. But honestly, how can you make a series revolved around death, destruction, oppression and rebellion enjoyable at the end? At the beginning it’s exciting because you are just starting to learn about this world. There’s a romantic, nostalgic feeling to it. You’re just getting to know the characters while they are at the epitome of their innocence and with every preliminary step comes a new discovery.
The Hunger Games was exciting because it was the first one. Nothing compares to that. The characters are so new and we are just beginning to be invested in their worlds. Catching Fire was exciting because we wanted to see how the first games affected these characters, we get to experience another hunger games that is more complicated and terrifying than the first, and it has the most epic ending with Katniss’s discovering of why she was really put in the quarter quell, that District 12 is no more, and that 13 is ready for an uprising and for her to lead that uprising.
Mockingjay just feels like a recounting of what would’ve went down had all of this actually occurred. I thought the film was well done for the most part; the acting was solid and they stayed very true to the story (from what I can remember reading it almost 4 years ago).
However, there were definitely things I would’ve changed that I think could’ve made the film much more effective:
1. Cut the film down
Part II did not need to be over two hours. They did not need to split this movie up into two parts to begin with. Mockingjay was only 390 pages…
I get why the studios did it. Double the money right? But it bugs me. Harry Potter did it because Deathly Hallows was 759 PAGES. That’s only a little less than double the length of Mockingjay. It’s a slow, dark story to begin with so don’t drag it out more than necessary.
2. Implement flashbacks
It bugged me a little that the film picked up right where it left off in Pt. 1 without skipping a beat. It felt as if you were just continuing to binge watch a series, logging back into your Netflix account or something. This was one of the criticisms Entertainment Weekly had. Like maybe give us a little “previously on…” ya know? Deathly Hallows Pt. 2 did that for us.
More importantly though, I was so confused by the lack of flashbacks…in the FINALE OF A MAJOR FRANCHISE. When Katniss and Peeta have their first conversation in the movie and she tries to remind him of the time he tossed her bread in the pouring rain when she was young and starving, why couldn’t we see a snippet of that scene again that they played in the first movie?
When she’s recalling all of the deaths that have occurred since she entered the very first hunger games, why couldn’t we see some of those? When she is aiming her arrow at President Snow and then proceeds to shoot Coin instead, why couldn’t we have some flashbacks of her posing with that arrow, all the times she deliberated the consequences of her actions, making the most difficult decisions over the past few years that have led her to this very moment?
I think implementing this would’ve made it feel so much more epic and dramatic and FINAL. We don’t really understand the gravity of this film without them.
3. Tweak the ending
I remember the part in the book where Peeta asks: “You love me. Real or not real?” and Katniss says “real” and it being sweet but also feeling a little anticlimactic. But then again, that’s how Katniss is. She’s a hard ass, and doesn’t readily show her romantic emotions. But I wish they would’ve made this a little sweeter in the movie.
And I’m sorry I’ll shut up about flashbacks after this, but how sweet wouldn’t it have been to show a flashback of them resting in the cave together during the first games, sleeping in the same position as they did in this final scene where she finally confirms that their love is real?
Ok now we need to talk about that baby…the last scene was just so strange to me. Alright, I lied about shutting up about flashbacks but this is the last time. When she’s giving the speech to her baby (which of course we were all laughing at in theater because it looked nothing like them…) I just felt uncomfortable. It would’ve been more special with an older child (even just 3 or 4) that could at least REACT to what she was saying. OR if they wanted to stick with the baby, they should’ve shown some flashbacks throughout the speech.
The final scene really really bugged me and like, that’s the ending of the entire franchise! You can’t screw that up! But how CUTE was their other kid playing with Peeta. WOW. That definitely made up for it, a bit.
The two best Katniss and Peeta moments to me:
I love that Jennifer Lawrence reserves Katniss’s moments of weakness only for when she’s around Peeta. Whether she’s angry he’s hurt and she can’t protect him, scared out of her mind that he’s died, or just genuinely joyful, comfortable, and content in his presence, I think it’s such a good acting choice.
1. When we see how glad she is that he’s home after the uprising and everything is over
2. The very first time they kiss without any cameras/acting involved
My final change would’ve been to….
4. LIGHTEN KATNISS’S HAIR
I know this sounds silly, but look at the difference in the color of her hair from the first film to the last:
It was BLACK. Her hair is supposed to be brown (and stay brown). Not that hard to fix.
With all of that being said, what an incredible series of books and films overall. Jennifer Lawrence is a powerhouse actress and an unstoppable force. She was the perfect choice for Katniss, and I’ve been very happy and impressed with all of the casting, acting, script, and pacing of the films.
It’s sure gonna be hard to let go.