In the wake of the resounding success of the first Hunger Games movie, Lionsgate raised some eyebrows by announcing Suzanne Collins' best-selling trilogy would be spun into four films. The third book Mockingjay would be split in two. This raised predictable outcry of a cash grab. But two years later, we're finally seeing where director Francis Lawrence has divided the final chapter of Katniss Everdeen. And frankly, it's perfection.
WARNING: The following will contain spoilers for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1.
There were some serious concerns when Lionsgate announced The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 & 2. Chief among these was how could such a short book support two movies. At 390 pages, there was in theory a lot less ground to cover than the 750-some pages of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows or Twilight: Breaking Dawn offer. But while The Hunger Games books were solely embedded with their heroine Katniss Everdeen, the movies have taken flight into terrains unseen by she, like the secret political meetings of President Snow, or the control room of the titular games. In the third film of this franchise, this approach makes its biggest difference yet.
As much as I liked the books, the third was a let down. After two novels of Katniss kicking ass and taking names, the third had her crippled with fear, and frequently unconscious when the action was going on elsewhere. Later, she'd be caught up via exhausted exposition dumps. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 doesn't discard Katniss's internal struggle, but downplays it in favor of focusing on her desire to get Peeta out of the Capitol's clutches. This makes for a more proactive protagonist, and gives a clear focus to this Part 1: Save Peeta.
The screenwriters (Peter Craig and Danny Strong) also make strategic changes, weaving Effie in for welcomed comic relief, and showing audiences the breathtaking sacrifices and rebellions that are breaking out in other districts. It opens up the world of the film, and makes Katniss's struggle less insular. All of this fills in the film's narrative in a way that feels enriching, not like packed on fluff. It builds to setup the climactic final chapter, in a way that has us already eager. And yet offers enough of a resolution that The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 feels like a satisfying story.
Seriously, this next section will discuss the film's conclusion. SPOILERS AHEAD.