So here's my obligatory list of what I wish they hadn't left out:
• "We just saw Finnick Odair in his underwear."
• Katniss insisting that she's the one who will kill Snow.
• The rescue mission for Peeta et al. happening mostly off-screen - naturally they wanted to get an action scene out of it, but the Capitol's designs were made a little too obvious with the faux close call.
• We got like two previews and they weren't genre-compatible and they sucked. What the hell I wanted Star Wars. I love previews. This is robbery.
• Well, they didn't really have to leave much out, did they? A two hour movie for the first half of a quick read pretty much covers it all.
And here's my less obligatory list of what I'm glad they did change:
• Scenes of rebellion in the districts! Rock on! My favorite was taking to the treetops in 11.
• Obviously it would never do to leave Effie out, but good thinking to emphasize the humanity she was just barely beginning to develop in Catching Fire.
• "The Hanging Tree" broadcast as a ballad of empowerment and actually working as one.
• Just downloaded the song itself, too. It doesn't sound like it did in my head, but I'm okay with not being consulted on such matters.
• FINALLY an actual mockingjay shows up! Still waiting on their backstory, though...
• I went into it feeling completely indignant and haughty over the final-installment-in-two-parts thing, and I'm still not 100% won over, but I admit that the breathing space was nice and as a whole I liked the movie a lot more than I thought I would.
And my list of things that I'm glad they kept:
• Great casting once again, especially for the camera crew.
• Took me this long to fully appreciate Plutarch Heavensbee as a character and now I can't believe the actor is dead.
• Jennifer Lawrence just owns this role, doesn't she? I know it's all been said, but damn.
• The settings they had to work with were rather miserable compared to the arenas, but props for making them interestingly miserable.
• Buttercup. :)
• The Mockingjay costume was gorgeous.
• Can't even explain why this worked but I loved watching the characters watch each other's televised appearances.
• Coin's hair!
And now my list of things that I wish they'd changed but they didn't:
• There were places where I felt like the dialogue was a little too faithful. Lines about poison being a fitting weapon for a snake leave room for improvement.
• Grey jumpsuits. This is bad for morale, 13.
• I really like the humorous moments in these movies and I wish there were more of them.
• Here's the theory: if a threat like the Games is always looming over families, they will eventually lose hope, knowing that in a very real way, their children don't belong to them. The fiber of the community will be weakened as trust breaks down, and they'll attempt to protect themselves by diverting misfortune onto someone else, as that's the only method that has ever worked. Instead of supporting each other in hard times, they'll use any resource they have to improve their chances of either avoiding the Games or winning the Games, and without that unity, they'll never be able to challenge their oppressors.
This would explain a lot: why everyone is so shocked by Katniss making a sacrifice for her sister, why the Everdeens never seem to receive payment for the medical treatment they offer their neighbors, why some districts are comfortable with raising Career Tributes, why so many characters just seem unkind by nature, and, of course, why this has been going on so long without anyone organizing a resistance.
But the text won't hold it. Every time I think, "Hey, this is why Twelve doesn't have any traditions or celebrations," Katniss tells us that they sure can dance. The movies started out with Katniss getting her pin from a friendly old lady, like poor people around here are just habitually nice to each other. Maybe my theory is just too depressing even for a dystopia, but I'd love to see a little Toni Morrison influence in this series.
And speaking of influence, here's the first thing I thought of when I heard the name Effie Trinket: seriously, you're going to love this. I can't say for sure it inspired the character, but it's so close to the series' themes it seems like it can't be coincidental.
I'll just leave you with that so you can lie awake all night feeling haunted by it. Six crumbs, Capitol clowns.