**Spoilers ahead, proceed at your own risk.**
I prepared weeks in advance for the premiere of Mockingjay, Part 1. A fellow Ranger staff member picked up our tickets ahead of time and like good little fans, we arrived at the theater an hour early to stand in the lengthy line.
Having already devoured all three of the Hunger Games books months ago, I knew what was going to happen. This didn’t stop my heart from jumping at the thought of seeing it cast on the big screen.
Mockingjay was my favorite of all three books. It’s a sort of poetic ending to a series so filled with destruction and hopelessness. It leaves many readers attached to the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, in a new way, making every ounce of her despair hit at the core of our hearts.
“If they don’t show how depressed she was … I’m going to be really disappointed,” my friend said as we sat crammed in the theater — counting down the minutes until the movie began.
She wasn’t disappointed.
The film began with Katniss curled in a ball repeating her name, where she is, and what happened to her again and again: a defense against anxiety she learned in the previous books. She is Peeta-less, afraid and unsure of her new home in District 13.
For those of you naughty readers who haven’t seen the movies but still want to know what happened, I’ll fill you in.
Katniss has been rescued from her second round in the arena by rebels.
She delivered a fatal shot to the force field around the arena, allowing the rebels to scoop her out with one of their high tech spaceship/airplane things.
The rebels intend to overthrow the capitol and kill President Snow, the antagonist, with Katniss’ help as a beacon of hope to the other districts — the Mockingjay.
The rebels come from District 13, a place the other 12 districts were told had been destroyed decades ago.
As an avid reader and one of the many “the book is better than the movie” people, I can say the film was relatively true to the book. The actors lend to this accurateness. Their portrayals are so excellent it left me floored.
Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) plays an excellent Capitol princess turned “refugee” so perfectly. Banks has a way of making you adore Effie though she is an obnoxious Capitol citizen. I even felt sorry for her a few times, just as I did while reading the book.
Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) has few scenes in this film, though his gaunt look and sickly mannerisms show the abuse he must be suffering. A handful of new characters have been excellently cast including Natalie Dormer as Cressida, Evan Ross as Messalla and Elden Henson as Pollux.
My favorite part of the film was when Katniss sang ‘The Hanging Tree’ at a river in District 12. In the book, her father taught her the song before he died. She would sing it because it reminded her of her of him. It’s the type of song that haunts you forever and anytime the song is mentioned in the book it signals a lot of emotion from Katniss. This was portrayed in the film beautifully.
Since this is only the first of a two-part movie, I figured they would end it with one of the most dramatic scenes in the book. This way every theatergoer would be left on the edge of their seat. It was a dramatic ending but it wasn’t action packed. It’s emotional and heartbreaking.
Here are some of the things that were left out, changed or added:
Effie is in District 13 with Katniss. In the book, she only shows up in the Capitol after the rebels have exacted their revenge. Peeta’s rescue mission is shown, even though in the book little is said as to what happened, only that it did and it was successful.
The last big exclusion: Katniss doesn’t ask to kill President Snow when she is reading her list of conditions to President Coin. I guess we’ll see how it plays out.