I really liked the movie, and Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss. The scene where she volunteered instead of Prim made me tear up, and I loved the way she looked really tomboyish and aggressive and out of place in a dress when she was declaring herself.
I found myself both annoyed at how long it took to get to the Capital and disappointed that they took out the Mayor’s daughter completely. Taking out the Mayor’s daughter changes some of the symbolism of the Mockingjay pin – in the books, the pin was given to her, starting the cycle of all of her symbolism being given to her. Cinna does a spectacular job and makes her a symbol of District 12, Haymitch and Peeta make her a symbol of star-crossed lover (yes, she plays along, later, but she does it to please Haymitch: she understands PR pretty much as ‘things that will please Haymitch’), and pretty much everyone else makes her a symbol of rebellion, the mockingjay embodied. She plays her part, and largely fulfills the roles she’s given, but she doesn’t consciously or deliberately choose the roles themselves. She takes what is presented to her.
Without the Mayor’s daughter, she chooses her symbol herself. It’ll be interesting to see if that crops up later on or if I’m just a symbolism nerd. It was understandable from a time point of view to cut a very minor character, but the method of storytelling effects change even without that sort of cut.
Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of Katniss was not the only reason I liked Katniss more in the movie than the book. Not being able to hear her thoughts makes it a lot easier to like her. When we are in Katniss’ head, the thought that she can’t go home without Peeta because they’ll hate her makes sense: we understand it. But when all we can see is her face as she looks torn, it’s easier to be charitable to her. Empathetic characters, and first-person narrators, are not always as likable as third person characters. I really loved the cuts to the Capital, as well.
Especially Seneca Crane’s beard. Seneca Crane’s beard kind of stole the show. Which, it seems, everyone already knows: