here, but beware of the spoilers if you haven't read the books. However, despite me loving the books, I did realize that the first half of Mockingjay was pretty slow, so splitting it into two movies had the potential of making for a very boring part 1 if they didn't do it right. Here's my exact words from that review about what I think the movie needed to do:
"let's go off on a quick tangent to talk about this Mockingjay movie. I'm interested to see what they plan on doing with this. First off they are splitting it into two movies. This could be extremely bad or it could be fantastic. It all depends on the point of view. If they decide to go strictly with the book and follow Katniss the whole time, the last half of the second Mockingjay movie will be good, but the first movie will be completely awful and boring. However, if they choose to not focus solely on Katniss, this could be great. The book can't show us all of the action that is happening around the land because it is confined to Katniss's head. But the movie can. It can veer away from Katniss while she is whining, complaining, and suffering underground in 13 and show us the war."
That review, which was published January 15, 2013, currently only has 36 views, but I am now convinced that two of those views come from Peter Craig and Danny Strong, the screenwriters for the movie, because my exact vision for what they needed to do with this movie was fulfilled. Thus the masterminds behind this franchise have once again blown me away.
What really makes this work is the same thing that made the first two work so well. The cast. Jennifer Lawrence is the perfect Katniss and she definitely proves once again how talented of an actress she is because she does a great job of being the Katniss that is messed up and crazy. But of course Jennifer isn't the only one that's great. Just like was the case with the first two movies, everyone just does a phenomenal job. Since I can't spend time praising every single person, there's a couple that I want to specifically highlight outside Jennifer. The first is Willow Shields as Prim. Willow didn't get a whole lot of screen time in the first two movies, but here role in this one is much larger and I thought she was simply amazing and adorable as the Katniss' younger sister as she gets the opportunity to help Katniss out and comfort her as she is going through her rough patches. While Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson Donald Sutherland, Sam Claflin, Elizabeth Banks, Jeffrey Wright, and Stanley Tucci were all great, the other actor I want to talk about is the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. His role in the last movie was pretty big, but it gets even bigger in this one and I couldn't help but be saddened every time I saw him. He does such a good job and I'm sad we lost such a great actor. May he rest in peace.
Overall, I was a bit nervous going into this movie because, despite loving the first two movies, splitting the finale into two movies was a risk that could lead to a boring first part. But they did such a good job with the material given that I was genuinely surprised and impressed with how amazing this turned out. The only thing I didn't like about the movie was when it ended because I was just ready to go all the way through the Mockingjay story. But that of course is a positive because they successfully got me pumped for what should be a pretty epic finale to this series next year. I know a lot of people hated how the books ended, but I loved it and if you want to know why, just go read that Mockingjay book review that I posted at the beginning of this review. It should be a very powerful, heart-wrenching finale that tugs at all my emotional strings and now that we have seen everything leading up to it, I'm officially ready for next November. As far as my grade for Mockingjay - Part 1, I actually gave the first two Hunger Games movies the same grade, that of a 9/10. That trend continues. I also give this movie a 9/10. I could rank all three from best to worst if you made me, but the fact of the matter is that I loved all three of them about equally. They are all great movies. Once we get the final chapter next year, I fully expect The Hunger Games franchise to be considered one of the best franchises ever made. It will be in my book, anyways.