In defence of The Hunger Games’s series, the decision to split Mockingjay into two parts was almost inevitable. We’ve come a long way from Peter Jackson managing to condense J.R.R. Tolkien’s magnum opus into a meagre three films (even if they did clock in at over three hours each and could have started a movie intermission movement). These days you can hardly “properly” wrap up a book series-to-film series adaptation with being “forced” to split the final novel into two parts.
Twilight’s Breaking Dawn was a prime example—spending a bit too much time on some awkward imprinting while relegating the real action to a whole other movie. Harry Potter milked Deathly Hallows for all it could, as though trying to make us experience the mind-numbing months Harry, Ron and Hermione spent on the road (and the dancing, oh the dancing). And it’s not like Jackson, our hero until now, has been doing a great job bucking the trend — somehow turning The Hobbit, a fraction of the size of Lord of the Rings, into its own trilogy by shamelessly milking Tolkien’s more obscure work.
Which is why we feel we can confidently say that as much as we love Jennifer Lawrence and would sit through anything with her in it, Mockingjay definitely didn’t need to be two movies. And to prove our point, here are scenes we think could easily be omitted in a bid to wrap this all up in one film.
Katniss and Gale arguing about Peeta
Which time, you say? That’s an excellent question. Because after two books of wondering to ourselves who Katniss should be with, she’s finally at the point where it’s occurring to her to choose. We know that, she knows that, Gale and Peeta know that. And with Peeta at a distinct disadvantage this time around, we really only need one of these exchanges between Katniss and Gale to get that point across, if any.
Yes, it’s a staple of the series that we open with Katniss preparing for yet another round of the Hunger Games — and make no mistake, this war with The Capitol is just another go around. But at this point we also know that Katniss is in pretty decent shape, so let’s just get right to the fighting, shall we?
Katniss gets hurt a number of times in the final book, and goes through a lengthy recovery each time. We’re voting to either cut out the initial injury, or at least scale back how much time she has to spend getting better and — see above — back into shape.
Filming the propos
Again, we’re not advocating the total omission of these creepy propaganda pieces — they’re a pretty important part of the plot. But Katniss films a lot of them in the books, and that could easily be whittled down to the essential ones for the movie.
Singing “The Hanging Tree”
We’ve seen a song rally the districts before and word is out that this is going to be another big moment for the rebellion. But considering this scene apparently made star Lawrence cry over having to sing in public, her other, big declarations probably would have sufficed.
After two movies of watching Katniss feel torn up about what she has to do in the Games and how she feels lying to Peeta, some trimming of her internal struggle could happen without stripping too much away from the bigger story. It’s a side effect of a first person narration in a book, but that doesn’t always mean every second of it needs to leap from page to screen. That, and by the time everything wraps we’ll know without all the cues that she’s been through hell.