I finally got to see Mockingjay, Part One on Christmas Eve. Going into it, I was a little worried because I wasn’t sure how they were going to be able to split this book into two parts and it really felt like it was just a thing they were doing because Harry Potter did it first. (See also: Breaking Dawn, Allegiant.)
It turns out I had no reason to be worried, which is something I really should just accept with this film franchise already because each of the three films released so far has surpassed all of my expectations. Partway into the film, I figured out which thread of the story they’d decided to focus on, to the point where I predicted where they were going to end the movie. Which I really didn’t mind, because they’d done such a great job making this movie feel like a complete story as opposed to just part of a bigger story that was too long to be contained and oh hey let’s just cut it off a couple hours in, m’kay?. (I’m looking at YOU, Deathly Hallows. [I still love you, though.])
One thing I really love about all of these movies is how they show the bigger picture and the consequences of the revolution Katniss is inadvertently (and then not-so-inadvertently) starting. In the books, we get a very limited view because we are limited by Katniss’s distance from what’s actually happening; I feel like Mockingjay is the first book where we really got to see the consequences of her actions. (I guess they are touched on at the end of Catching Fire, but only very briefly because SUSPENSE.) Whereas with these movies, we have that thread running throughout. We get to see President Snow’s calculated responses to the Katniss Problem; we get to see the effect she really has on the people who claim her as a symbol of hope and resistance.
Really, I can’t say whether I like the movies or the books better because I love them both for different reasons. These movies have done such a great job both staying true to the original material, but also taking on a life of its own, able to stand up on its own merits.