“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 1” Book to Movie Review

If you have yet to hear about “The Hunger Games” series, then I don’t know where you’ve been for the past six years. I am going to talk about how well I think the recent movie portrayed the book. If you haven’t read “Mockingjay” or seen the movie, then do not keep reading! This review will contain spoilers from the first half of “Mockingjay.”

First off, is it necessary for the movie title to be so long? I mean seriously! For the remainder of this review, I am going to shorten the movie titles. Long titles aside, I believe “The Hunger Games” trilogy exhibits extremely well-done book-to-film adaptations. I would like to give props to the director of the first film, Gary Ross; the director of “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay-Part 1,” Francis Lawrence; all of the actors and anyone who has worked on the film set or in post-production. Normally, book-to-film adaptations are extreme let-downs, but “The Hunger Games” movies prove that this isn’t always the case.

In my opinion, each movie has been better than its predecessor. The first film is good, especially if you read the book and have background information, but the movie adaptations really proved their worth when “Catching Fire” was released. This adaptation is excellent. The bigger budget for this film was showed in the increase of CGI. Because “Catching Fire” is so well-done, I had doubts that “Mockingjay-Part 1” would fill the same shoes. But after seeing the film three times, I can say that “Mockingjay-Part 1” is my favorite of the films so far.

The first half of “Mockingjay” the book can seem boring. Katniss is copingwith her PTSD from both of the Hunger Games in which she participated, her home District 12 has been bombed, Peeta is being held hostage in the Capital and everyone in District 13 wants Katniss to be the face of the rebellion. Pretty stressful. Katniss spends the first half of the book deciding whether she wants to be a part of the rebellion. I did not think that this film adaptation would be very exciting compared to the other two movies where Katniss is a participant in exciting Hunger Games, filled with near-death experiences every two chapters. However, my expectations were completely surpassed.

What I love about the movies is that the audience has a chance to see events Katniss is not a part of that add development and depth to the story. We are able to see how the propos that Katniss is filming affect the rebels throughout Panem. In the book, Katniss is stuck in District 13, so the audience is as well.

Mockingjay is a wonderful book, but I always wanted more (like with any good book). Splitting the book into two movies is a great way to delve into the issues that the book presents and to really flesh out the story.

Jennifer Lawrence’s acting is spot on. The film begins with a scene straight from the book: Katniss curled up in a cranny muttering simple truths about herself in order to stay sane. “My name is Katniss Everdeen. I am seventeen years old. I survived the Hunger Games.” Lawrence plays Katniss with such conviction that the audience is immediately sucked into the story.

There were so many scenes and lines that are directly from the book. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. These books are New York Times Best Sellers. The book proves that the world, characters and story do not need to be tampered with, at least not majorly. However, one change that I love is the addition of Effie Trinket in District 13. She provides much needed comic relief throughout the movie, and this story needs that.

Another part that I, and every other fan of the book series, could not wait for was “The Hanging Tree” song. Reading the lyrics is enough to send chills running down your arms. Actually hearing it? Breathtakingly haunting. This is my favorite scene in the entire movie.

It starts with Katniss singing the song in a meadow right outside of the obliterated District 12, now filled with the corpses of nine thousand people who didn’t make it out before the bombs were dropped by the Capital. The scene changes to show Katniss, Gale and the camera crew flying back to District 13 while the song keeps playing. This scene then transitions to the propo that all of the districts are seeing, Katniss singing “The Hanging Tree” while walking through the open grave that was her home. The scene changes again, Katniss’s voice still singing through the verses, to show a group of people from District 5 joining her voice with theirs. Eventually, Katniss’s voice is drowned out by the rebels who march with explosives to the dam that gives power to the Capital. A seam between the scenes is created by the continued melody of the song. This movie is truly a cinematic experience.

I could keep talking about this adaptation for pages. The “If we burn, then you burn with us” speech; the other, not so well-done speech Katniss gives; Buttercup; The scene that cuts between Finnick and the rescue team; the visual transitions; the bombing at District 13. Effie’s head scarf — the list goes on. This was truly an amazing adaptation that deserves five stars. Thank you for reading and remember: don’t knock it ‘til you read it!