My Feels for The Hunger Games Are REAL: My THG Reread & Mockingjay Part 2 Review

*Warning: Spoilers!*

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I’m really glad I decided to pick up this series again in preparation for the last movie (so sad!). When I read the trilogy for the first time in 2012, none of the movies had come out yet (though they had been cast). My only spoiler was that I had heard one of the male characters died, and I was so worried the whole time it was going to be Peeta (I realized later the reference was to Finnick). I adored him and wanted what was best for him, so I spent all of Mockingjay SO STRESSED. But this time, I was able to appreciate Katniss’ journey even more (though I liked her a lot in my first read too, obviously, since I named my blog after her)..

The first read of the series, for me, was all about the characters. This second time around, it was about the overall story, particularly its themes of war and PTSD.

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In my initial read, The Hunger Games was my favorite read of the trilogy. After rereading, I think Catching Fire might actually be my new favorite, but I will not deny that this is most likely influenced by the movie, as it is also my favorite of the movies (which I can say for certain now that I have seen Mockingjay Part Two). The nice thing about Catching Fire is that we already know the main characters and the world, but we get some new secondary characters and we delve deeper into what leads to the rebellion. Also, Katniss’s interactions with Peeta are more genuine.

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The first time I read Mockingjay, I pretty much hated it until the last page before the epilogue. The pacing seemed off and I was so concerned about poor Peeta’s state. This time, I was more relaxed and able to appreciate the book more, but at the end I was amazed that despite the fact that Katniss and Peeta end up together and even have a family, the whole thing still feels downright tragic. Not in a hopeless way, otherwise I wouldn’t care for these books the same way, but she loses her sister, her mother, her best friend, basically loses her mentor, and several others in her life – some through death and some due to purposeful distance (or in the case of Haymitch, he continues to lose himself to the bottle). No one comes out of this in good shape, and that’s scary. But sometimes, that’s real life. But we see that good can still come out of it.

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I know not everyone loved the first Mockingjay movie, but I have a deep appreciation for it, and my feelings are the same for the second one. They’re hard movies because we see Katniss struggling so much, see the dirty underbelly of war, see the horrors of manipulation and PTSD. And I appreciated some of the changes they made in the films, few as they were.

In the final Mockingjay installment, we get a little more closure with Effie. Haymitch seems to be in at least a slighter better state than he did in the book. And in the scene where Katniss asks Gale about the bombs, you know with certainty when she says, “Goodbye Gale,” she means goodbye forever. That hit me much harder than his sudden disappearance in the book.

And after everything has gone down and she returns to Twelve, we get the scene with Buttercup and then we see little flashes of her starting her life over again. I actually would have liked more of this, but the movie was already bordering on too long of an ending (due to staying faithful to the book in so many ways, I might add) so I forgive it. Katniss hunts, Peeta returns, and they start to spend time together. And at the very end they have apparently ended up in the same house, because she leaves her bed to come into his room to crawl into bed with him. I was a little sad we didn’t get one more kiss when she finally admits she loves him, but it was sweet nonetheless.

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Neither the books nor the movies pulled any punches, but I think that is a large reason why this is a story that will continue to endure. It carries themes and warnings that we can all take to heart.

What are your thoughts on the last Hunger Games movie, or the books and movies in general?

Mini Movie Reviews: Maleficent and Mockingjay Part 1

Maleficent

MaleficentI didn’t have a lot of interest in Maleficent, initially. It looked like one of those movies that could be good, but could also be pretty bad. After hearing a couple of co-workers praise it, I decided to check it, and to my relief it was pretty good. It has nice visuals, the acting is good (Angelina Jolie of course steal the shows in the title role, but Elle Fanning was also good), and the plot and writing aren’t lacking the way Snow White and The Huntsman was (though there is a pretty major plot hole that my husband and I basically facepalmed over). I think my favorite part was watching the various transformations of Maleficent. Also, you think there’s going to be insta-love in the movie, and then it actually ends up sort of poking fun at it and proving to be just insta-attraction, which is totally viable. The movie is definitely worth at least one watch.

3stars2Mockingjay Part 1

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I have to say that I have been really surprised to see a lot of mixed feelings about Mockingjay Part One among book bloggers. Before I dig into my thoughts on how the movie turned out, let me lay out my expectations…

– Mockingjay is my least favorite book of the trilogy because I think the pacing is weird and it’s just a lot of bad stuff happening. Plus Peeta is missing for a good chunk of it and if you read my blog regularly you know he’s my favorite.

– I have immense respect for how Francis Lawrence picked up where Gary Ross left off and was able to maintain the look and feel of the first movie while improving it as well as staying more true to the book than the predecessor. I thought Catching Fire the movie was so good that I might even like it more than the book, though it’s hard to say for sure without rereading it.

So in conclusion, while part of me wondered how Mockingjay could possible be made into two decent movies, I actually had a lot of faith in Francis Lawrence.

And personally, I think he nailed it.

I’m not going to get into a deep analysis of the movie, but what I will say is that the parts of the movie that were added and not from the book, everything with Effie, the portrayal of Katniss dealing with PTSD, all the propo stuff, and then that RESCUE OPERATION SCENE, were pretty close to perfect to me. Seriously. Given the source material, I don’t know if Francis Lawrence could have done much better. It is a slow-paced movie, and it’s not filled with the same sort of action, excitement, and romance as the first two, BUT IT’S NOT SUPPOSED TO BE. The third book is very different from the first two. It’s all about Katniss’s struggle and I think I felt closer to it in the movie than I did in the book. The only complaint I have is the omission of this conversation-

Haymitch takes the seat across from me. “We’re going to have to work together again. So, go ahead. Just say it.”

… All I can say is “I can’t believe you didn’t rescue Peeta.”

“I know,” he replies.

There’s a sense of incompleteness. And not because he hasn’t apologized. But because we were a team. We had a deal to keep Peeta safe. A drunken, unrealistic deal made in the dark of night, but a deal just the same. And in my heart of hearts, I know we both failed.

“Now you say it,” I tell him.

“I can’t believe you let him out of your sight that night,” says Haymitch.

I nod. That’s it.

It’s not necessarily an enjoyable watch, per se, because it is two hours of Katniss with PTSD, but there are some lighter moments and overall, I found it extremely worthwhile and a very worthy adaptation.

4-5stars-editWhat are your thoughts on these movies?