Katniss Everdeen

My One Mockingjay Part 1 Gripe

It’s hard to believe it but after three films in The Hunger Games franchise, and after so many gripes about Gary Ross’s treatment, and then my barely there gripes about Francis Lawrence’s treatment of Catching Fire– I only have one, count it ONEMockingjay-gale-poster gripe about Mockingjay Part 1. And that gripe is this, Gale Hawthorne is effectively an orphan.

I know, I know there’s something wrong with me, ’cause my gripe is for all intents and purposes the stripping away Gale of pretty much everything that made him sympathetic in the first place. The fact that he had a family to take care of, not just Katniss, and Katniss’s family, but one all of his own. There was Posy, and Vic, and Rory, and his mother Hazelle. But like Madge Undersee, or Greasy Sae, or Delly Cartwright, Gale’s family was cut down to a brief mention of his “brothers” in The Hunger Games, and then a feigned responsibility to them in Catching Fire by taking up work in the mines, and then finally in Mockingjay Part 1, they’re just no where.

So what happened to Gale’s family? Were they seen as extraneous, or an unneeded distraction from the main points of the story? In my head I’d like to imagine that Gale’s family was on the story boards for a while, they may have even had thoughts of casting them. But then it got away from the creators of the franchise, that they figured Gale alone, stately, tall, and handsome would be enough, and that expanding his home life would not have made him more easy to love, and more of a rival for the affections Katniss has for Peeta. But from where I’m sitting, even though Gale is all of those things, stately, strong, handsome, and solo– he’s not an island, and knowing more about him as a person rather than just a hunter, and a soldier, and a friend– may have been a boon to the story, and perhaps to Liam Hemsworth as an actor. That being said, I loved Mockingjay Part 1 as a film, and if Gale’s family was the sacrifice they made to make it as good as I believe it is, I’ll take it.

So, that’s my one gripe– Gale Hawthorne’s is a storyboard orphan.

Them There Eyes

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REVIEW: Mockingjay Part 1 Is The Ultimate Game Changer

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** THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER FREE!**

The Hunger Games Franchise: Come for the action. Stay for the bigger, more important message.

KATNISSIf you’ve been following reviews for Mockingjay Part 1 so far, you’ve probably noticed some media outlets griping about the change of pace or fewer action sequences or the lack of the games. But The Hunger Games has always been about more than just the games. The first two films did an excellent job conveying the danger and inequality in Panem through the games, but the story cannot simply be the games, otherwise the whole message Suzanne Collins intended for her audience is lost. The franchise is about the tragedies of war but also the need to question society’s parameters and to fight against injustice, even if it comes at a personal cost. That’s right, folks– We’re moving past the “Whoa, all these people are in a bubble trying to kill each other!” pull and into legitimate political thriller territory.

Mockingjay Part 1 is a tantalizing slow burn. Its pacing, emotion, and action are different from the other films, but in the best way possible. It starts out dark, ends pitch black, and finds moments of levity, anger, sadness, and just about everything else in between. As Katniss attempts to adjust to life in District 13 and reluctantly accepts her role as the voice of the rebellion, a new story element unfolds into something much deeper. Katniss and District 13 go back and forth in the ultimate game of cat and mouse with President Snow, one in which everyone they know is a pawn. Of course, that doesn’t mean that everyone supporting her in District 13 is really truly on her side, either. The result is a harrowing journey to incite a revolution, one that featured fewer action sequences but kept us more emotionally invested than any Hunger Games movie before it.

Mockingjay-Part-1-Phillip-Seymour-Hoffman-and-Julianne-MooreThere’s a stunning tension created throughout the film by the entire cast. Jennifer Lawrence proved herself as our Katniss long ago, but earns new respect as she handles Katniss’ fragile emotional state with realism and care. Donald Sutherland is an absolute maniacal genius now that he has a chance to flex those baddie muscles. Julianne Moore is a smart, welcome addition as President Coin, who plays beautifully off the late Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Plutarch Heavensbee. The decision to keep Effie in the story was a stellar one and Elizabeth Banks is more perfectly Effie than ever before. Liam Hemsworth plays Gale with much more vulnerability and depth than recent promos have suggested– the rage scene is definitely there, but many others prior to that make it easy to see just how truly torn he is. However, if there’s a “Stepping Up To The Plate” award for this movie, it goes to Josh Hutcherson. Peeta’s transformation is gut-wrenching and visceral, the stuff that makes your breath catch in your throat every time he comes on screen because the agony and instability feels so real. It’s the first time in the series Josh has really been asked to be something beyond the caring, careful version of Peeta we all know so well and he exceeds expectations.

There is still action in this film but it isn’t scene-to-scene as it was when Katniss fought off danger after danger in the arenas. However, please don’t confuse less action with a plodding pace. This movie’s action sticks in your brain and feels much more warranted than in previous films. It is not, as the games were, for anyone’s entertainment. Even in the scenes without explosions and hovercrafts and arrows flying, there’s still plenty of things happening and for us, the entire film felt like it moved very quickly, faster than its actual run time.

mockingjay-part-1-peeta-beatenBecause this movie is a Part 1, you’re not going to get instant gratification around every turn (another sticking point for critics, it seems). But ask yourself– Did you really with The Hunger Games or Catching Fire, either? Francis Lawrence, Danny Strong, and Peter Craig used the opportunity to get more in depth with the story very wisely. Rather than being thrust into District 13, there’s a world-building that you don’t always get in film. President Snow and Plutarch in particular benefit from the books expansion into two parts, in terms of both screen time and character development. Boggs, Cressida, and the film crew are also rewarded a richer understanding than we’d expected. Random gushing: Elden Henson as Pollux was easily our favorite part of the film crew without saying a word, though everyone else played their part very well too.

For all the guessing in the world at the ending, we will only tell you this: You know the ending, but you don’t. You’ll leave the theater feeling charged up and overwhelmed, already eager for the final film.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the film is perfect. We have a few gripes but realize that in the grand scheme of things, they’re pretty minor. We’ll nitpick at a later date because to do so would be to spoil everyone. Even so, we know that Lawrence Squared and the rest of the team have delivered us a stellar film that is sharp and thought-provoking.

We can’t wait to discuss it with all of you!

Mockingjay Still-O-Rama Reactions

Mockingjay is less than two weeks away! Besides press tour interviews galore (and the return to the entire cast seemingly getting sick at once), there’s something else coming in droves: NEW STILLS AND BEHIND THE SCENES IMAGES!

Of course, you don’t just see a still. You see it and you have a reaction. Sometimes it’s just a basic “Oh that’s cool!” or “Meh”, but sometimes it’s something much bigger. So let’s share those more substantial reactions:

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Effie’s eyebrows are in a semi-natural state! Now are they gray-ish from years of over-treatment, plucking, etc? Or are we actually supposed to believe that homegirl has naturally light blonde eyebrows? Because as a natural blonde, that does not happen! Wait, what’s Effie’s natural hair color? Does SHE even know?!

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WIIIIIIIIIG! It’s like “The Mole” scene from Austin Powers for us at certain points. It’s not a bad wig– it’s actually a good one, hairline-wise and all that jazz. But you started thinking about how shiny and perfectly wavy her hair looks and then OH YEAH IT’S A WIG. Because nobody’s real hair ever stays that nice. We mean, Woody has a wig too but his reflects his character, thus is a total mess.

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Is that District 13 schematic just like… their screensaver or something? When they don’t have anything relevant to their missions, is that always just there in the background like “HEY GUYS! THIS IS WHERE WE LIVE!”? We’ve seen a lot of that sucker!

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Paylor in contrast to Katniss, Gale, and the film squad is beautiful. She’s got this very salt-to-the-Earth look that’s we’re digging. She is a part of a grassroot rebel movement. They don’t no stinkin’ armor! Okay, they need it, but they don’t have it and they fight anyway. And that is true badassery.

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Snow’s office is awesome and all, but there are young people lined up in Capitol clothing in the upper right-hand corner of this photo. Why are they there? Are they supporters? Could they be consorts toted around the city like Finnick and Johanna were? What are you doing to them Snow?!

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So you’re telling me that the dude with the cowboy hat and mutton chops is NOT in the movie? DAMMIT! DAMMIT ALL TO HELL! WHY NOT?!

The Mockingjay Clip That Left Us With One Wish

Have you been hiding in an underground bunker recently? If so, you my not know this already, but… THE FIRST MOCKINGJAY CLIP IS HERE! And it’s a heart-wrencher!

OBSERVE!

For people who don’t know the books, this clip is misleading. It almost looks like Peeta is friendly with Caesar Flickerman and possibly even enjoying their conversation. Sure, you can hear the hitch in his voice, but someone might assume it’s because of the tense subject– the surprise ending of the Quarter Quell. His tone could even represent his disappointment in what Katniss did and shiny new alliance with The Capitol. But we also think this clip is meant to be misleading.

Of course, we know better, but think about it: Katniss is really the one person who believes that Peeta isn’t willingly working in conjunction with the Capitol. The audience shouldn’t fully believe that he’s being held against his will, either. We’ll see Katniss advocating his innocence constantly, slowly the audience will start to believe her despite every other character being skeptical because she’s the protagonist, only to see him attempt to murder her somewhere toward the end, and it’ll be a glass case of emotion, Ron Burgundy style.

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I’m imagining that clip wise, we probably won’t see much Peeta outside of this one. Because it sets up that “Wait.. is Peeta a traitor now?” mindset that will make moviegoers eager to solve the mystery. Anything to negate that would be kind of counter-productive. Of course, that doesn’t mean other clips won’t mention Peeta. He’s kind of a big discussion point in this one and scenes discussing what should be done with him will be pretty spoiler-free on the grand scale of the story.

Another thing we’re loving about this? The dialogue is very, very similar to the book. With this script, screenwriters seem to have really taken the time to figure out what quotes from the book really work on film rather than simply trying to rephrase everything. We think it’s a really nice homage to the original story.

Oh, And Our One Wish? MOAR CLIPS!

The Girl With The Pearl

Mockingjay’s Iffy Cliffy

It’s been debated, questioned, and mulled over for months upon months now: Where exactly will Mockingjay Part 1 end?

Movie splits are usually pretty high tension, some everyone had their theories. Realistically, it broke down to two: 1) Peeta and Katniss’ reunion in District 13 in which things get a little choke-y or 2) After Katniss has become fully aware of Peeta’s condition, feels hopeless, and begs to be sent to District Two. There are a few others, like after she gets shot in Two or after Finnick and Annie’s wedding, but we don’t see those as being quite so likely.

While Mockingjay Part 1’s ending still technically remains a cliffhanger, Jennifer Lawrence has got us thinking that there can only be one real scenario after she spoke to Cineplex Magazine about the ending:

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“Oh God, I don’t want to tell you that. It’s a really great ending, and you guys are going to be pissed.”

If audiences are really going to be as pissed off as J-Law seems to be suggesting… OH MY GOODNESS, WE’RE SO HAPPY!

Like 30 seconds after this shot, probably! *sobs*

Like 30 seconds after this shot, probably! *sobs*

Out the the two above scenarios, the truly justified RAAAAAAAGE scenario is the screen blacking out just as Katniss blacks out, while being choked by Peeta. It’s the ultimate WTF moment of the series. If the film ends there, there’s no explanations, understanding, or time for Peeta pity. There’s just confusion and rage for fans who don’t already know what’s coming (and even for some of us who do) and the outrage will be beautiful!

Outrage and anger is what this series is going for, but sometimes that’s easy to forget. The Capitol’s manipulations, the ones that turn people against each other so they can maintain power, are the major atrocities of this book. What better way to make people feel like that to have Peeta inexplicably turn against Katniss?

Also We May Be Sadomasochists,

The Girl With The Pearl

The Animals of The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games trilogy is rich with animals. No surprise there considering that animals for most equate to food for most people, and not pets. For starters there’s Katniss and Gale who are hunters out of necessity, they’re probably the characters in the story that encounter and/or have the most interaction with animals throughout the series, and I mean both dead and
living ones. From the squirrels, rabbits, and birds that Katniss and Gale snare, or shoot, to Lady the goat, and Buttercup the cat– District 12 may be the most animal friendly district in the whole of Panem, that is when they’re not making wild dog stew, and supplementing rat meat for chicken. That being said animals have other purposes besides sustenance and companionship.

She kind of deserved some screen time, no?

She kind of deserved some screen time, no?

The Muttations of the Games: they are fierce, they are frightening, they are grotesque, and they serve no purpose other than to maim, traumatise, kill— and most disgustingly, entertain the audience. From the fluffy killer squirrels of Haymitch’s Games, to the wolf Mutts of Katniss and Peeta’s first Games (later revamped into dog Mutts for the film adaptation), to the monkey/ baboon Mutts of their second Games, and most psychologically frightening of them all, the Jabberjays– Panem does not want for wildlife, manufactured or not. But then there’s the accidents of the Capitol– the Mockingjay. The cross breed that never should have been, that was created out of laziness, or perhaps a species shear will to survive?

Concept art is cool-- and scary.

Concept art is cool– and scary.

This morning during breakfast I was channel surfing through the short stack of channels at my disposal, I ended up on a Saturday morning animal show hosted by the world-famous Jack Hanna– the wildlife expert who always has a way of sounding like he knows nothing about animals when he’s got an endangered species crawling up his leg, or across his chest. While I was watching this show, where Hanna was traipsing across a Kenyan wildlife refuge, and gawking at a rare species of giraffe, I was struck with the disturbing thought of, what if Panem had a version of Jack Hanna, but instead of educating the Capitol public on magnificent creatures from near and far, that they showcased Muttation species from past and present Games? Abominations of nature, spliced together genomes of big cats, and arachnids– creating animals that resemble caber tooth tigers, with bites that rip you apart, whilst simultaneously shooting stinging venom into your wounds– so on top of losing limbs, you’re in excruciating, nerve shattering pain induced by lab intensified venom. The nightmarish possibilities are endless really.

There’s a consolation prize to the sick, twisted, fascination the Capitol has with creating the worst out of nature’s best. Cat’s from District 12 survive wars, travel home from hundreds of miles, and help heal protagonists.

Thanks Buttercup.

No really, thanks you rage/ tear inducing, matted, mongrel.

No really, thanks you range/ tear inducing, matted, mongrel.

Them There Eyes

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FANSITE EXCLUSIVE: New ‘Peeta’ TV Spot From THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY PART 1

Hold on to your hats, ladies and gents! We’ve got the exclusive debut of a stunning new TV spot for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1!

Ready to get emotional? This spot is going to take your Peeta feels to a WHOLE. NEW. LEVEL.

WE CAN’T EVEN HANDLE IT!

Lionsgate has clearly noticed that all it takes is a teeny bit of Peeta to drive this fandom into squealing fangirly oblivion.

Though we’ve seen the footage previously, seeing it all re-cut with Peeta’s full warning speech to Katniss layered over each scene is tense, thrilling, and exactly what we need from these TV spots! Readers know what’s coming and anticipate the fallout eagerly, while movie oriented fans will be intrigued by all the drama.

We’re a little surprised by just how much of Katniss and Peeta’s struggles have been revealed in the TV spots, but you know what? BRING THE HINTS AND REVEALS! We love them! They give off a wonderful sense of foreboding! If this is what they’re willing to show, what secrets and other big, incredible scenes are nestled away until movie time?

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 will be out on November 21st!

Final Trailer Reaction Post

The final trailer was released this morning, and that means one thing– collective fandom flailing across the globe, and a patented Victor’s Village reaction post featuring all three of us. So without further nattering, here’s the trailer, and under the cut will be our lovely non politically correct reactions!

BURNING AND STUFF
JJ: Yep let’s talk burning!
Them There Eyes: First off, everybody state where they watched the final trailer! JJ: In my office cube, with headphones though.
TTE: Grocery store parking lot!
The Girl With The Pearl: Hiding in the work bathroom. ALL TIME LOW.
TTE: The Girl With The Pearl wins!
JJ: You gotta do what you gotta do
TTE: Exactly, plus I warned not to have food stuffs around me, in case I flailed, screamed, or choked on anything.
TGWTP: Winning, in the worst way possible.
TTE: Hey, at least your not Peeta! Which brings us to the fact that today was yet another day of extreme Peeta-Feels.
TGWTP: Poor Peeta! That line delivery was beautiful though!
JJ: Every shot of Peeta we see gets worse for him. Thanks, Francis. But Josh totally owned it. So well done!
TTE: I know, but we’re total gluttons for tortured Peeta. And yep, Josh is winning all the emotive awards today.
JJ: He’s mastered the teary eyes. I imagine we’ll see more of that. And it will destroy us even more.
TGWTP: But the feeling bad is a good thing! No one can say they don’t understand Katniss’ Peeta-Feels.
JJ: We all feel Katniss’s pain!
TTE: I’m looking forward to feeling destroyed by Josh Hutcherson’s acting abilities.
JJ: Yes, let him shine, especially since his screen time will be limited.
TGWTP: I feel like Josh deserves much more acting credit than he gets.
TTE: He’s been making us cry since Bridge to Tarabithia.
TGWTP: This movie could open a major doorway as he’s an adult actor now.
TTE: You mean it could turn him into the next Ryan Gosling? Or maybe Jake Gyllanhaal?
TGWTP: I could get behind that!
JJ: I approve of all these.
TTE: If he’s going to base his career on anything, I’d hope it would be those two.

(more…)

Mockingjay Spots and PEETAAAAA Feels

WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS!

For months and months, we waited, practically begging and pleading for some Mockingjay news. This week, we have Mockingjay news in droves. So much that we’re totally. freakin’. out as we try to take it in all at once, but in a good way!

We know some people don’t want the extra footage and the spoilery clips and all, but we do. OH, WE DO. So imagine our sheer, boundless joy when not one but two TV spots featuring featuring new footage hit the interwebz.

OBSERVE.

We’re not gonna lie– We probably liked these more TV spots more than we liked the trailer. Yes, they’re shorter, but they also pack way more punch. The trailer had a lot of exposition shots to set up the movie. With that over with, the TV spots had room for more tearjerker moments, more action, a more feverish sense of war all around.

Basically, it all comes down to one thing… PEETA FEELS. Both of them left us having a panicked Katniss moment.
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NO, PEETA. NO, WE ARE NOT OKAY. WE WILL NEVER BE OKAY AGAIN.

Also, we need a little sound effect of Katniss screaming “PEETAAAAA!” for this post more than we’ve ever needed anything.

Katniss watching in horror as Peeta speaks out against war, the bruises clear on his face despite all the makeup (and we assume this is when he warns Katniss about the bombs). Our first good look at Peeta saved from the Capitol, tears in his eyes and a CT scan in the background (and we’re almost positive this is about 5 seconds before a choking). The brilliant reminder/tagline that “THEIR FREEDOM BEGINS WITH HIS.”

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We can barely handle it! We worry more about these fictional characters than we do some actual people and we’re pretty certain that’s not healthy behavior. And on top of that, these TV spots are featuring all the epic quotage:

“Whoever you are, whatever it is you’re doing, you are going to want to witness this.”

“Everyone has a choice, Katniss. And I’d rather die than say what he just said.”

“When you love somebody, you don’t leave them behind.”

“Everyone’s either going to want to kiss you, kill you, or be you.”

“What have they done to you?”

It seems like everyone has at least one really terrific line here. We never doubted Danny Strong as his track record speaks for itself, but now we kinda want him to be our new best friend. Because without copying things word-for-word from the book, he absolutely captures its essence from what we’ve seen so far.

Though we must ask– if there were a richter scale for asshole behavior, how far are we pushing Gale here? We all know that his serious hatred of the Capitol, but releasing such a heavy-handed quote in promos suggesting that Gale thinks Peeta should have died instead of spoke publicly to not be murdered shows us that audiences will probably be given some reasons to dislike Gale pretty early in the overall Mockingjay story arc. We just hope its a more subtle change, because he is obsessed with war and defeating the entire Capitol ideology that it turns out to be his downfall in many ways, it’s seen more through his actions in the last book than from him being like “GRRRRRR! I’M A FIERY RAGEBALL OF LOATHING!”

Naturally, we’re hoping that somehow TV spots featuring new goodies are also released by Mazda and Whole Foods, the other major American sponsors. After all these two TV spots we have now were originally supposed to be spread out more, as the Samsung one says TICKETS ON SALE NOW and that’s not til next Wednesday. Our theory is that they’re trying to distract everyone from the horrendously disappointing soundtrack list.

But That’s A Different Post For A Different Day,

The Girl With The Pearl

A Powerful Return to District 12

Wednesday was a very emotional day for Hunger Games fans. First we went through the turmoil of being very clearly played with in the game to #UnlockMockingjay and all we could do was joke tweet our way through it. Fortunately though, by the time 7pm ET neared the unlocking % was going up so much quicker than it had the past few hours and then….

THE CLIP. A ONE MINUTE CLIP. LONGER THAN THE TEASER TRAILER IF YOU TAKE OUT THE GREEN BAND TIME.

This clip actually got us much more emotionally engaged than the teaser trailer. Probably because it totally is more engaging. And very devastating as we walk with Katniss through her destroyed district.

Where'd you come from Gale? But you're supposed to be there so we like it.

Where’d you come from Gale? But you’re supposed to be there so we like it.

But first, it starts similarly from the teaser, with voiceovers from Plutarch and Coin as Boggs leads Katniss to a hovercraft. It looks like there’s a cut because Gale seems to magically appear behind her when she’s getting on the hovercraft and then Boggs stays behind.

Then the hovercraft flies through a very green forest back to District 12.

Like Katniss, WE WERE NOT PREPARED FOR THIS.

Plutarch was right, the impact of seeing what the Capitol did to District 12 is so very powerful.

As Katniss walks through the district, there are visual cues to remind of us of the places we know from Catching Fire. When placed side by side, the effect is appropriately horrific.

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And THEN you notice the charred bodies. This may be PG-13, but thankfully, Francis Lawrence doesn’t seem to be sanitizing anything he doesn’t have to.

katniss dadBy the time Katniss gets to her house in the Victor’s Village, it’s a relief to see her donning the familiar leather jacket and game bag. The shot of her picking up her father’s picture makes our heart hurt but also glad that she at least can take this back with her. She needs some comfort, some familiarity to get through this awful “walk.”

But all of that is again shattered when she finds the fresh white rose. We’ve seen that scene before, but her expression will always haunt us.

In all of these scenes, Jennifer Lawrence is just nailing it. Reminding us that we are lucky lucky fans to have her playing Katniss. Yes, we are.

I think we’ll buy those tickets on the 29th.

JJ