There were some things I did like about Mockingjay - Part 1, and some things I didn’t. In the negative column: It was just two hours of set-up for the next movie, and thus didn’t feel particularly narrative satisfying. The centerpiece action sequence, where District 13 soldiers rescue Peeta while Finnick distracts the Capital with an on-air monologue about various Presidential shenanigans, was weirdly edited such that we didn’t get to see all that much of either side. The revelation that Finnick was forced into prostitution was a bombshell moment in the books, and it was included in the movie, but it was just sort of…. glossed over. I saw it with a friend who hadn’t read the books, and she didn’t even catch that it happened. Ditto Peeta’s entire family being dead. It’s dumb, because these are facts that could have real emotional weight to them, but the movie just sort of drops them on the ground before running off to do another scene of Katniss being conflicted about things. Like I said: Two hours of set-up. Not much happens here. You have time for maximum Finnick angst; don’t hold out on me.
But there were good things, like the way most of the dudes sit around being moony sad sacks (Finnick: Attractive moony sad sack. Peeta: Imperiled moony sad sack. Gale: Milquetoast moony sad sack) while the women get shit done. Julianne Moore, in particular, killed it, as Julianne Moore tends to do.
And then, the best part of the film, the subject of this title, MY QUEEN:
As played by Jena Malone. She came in like:
At the end of Catching Fire, Peeta, Johanna, and (we find out in Mockingjay) Finnick’s boo Annie Cresta were kidnapped by the Capital. Peeta pops up now and again in propaganda broadcasts broadcast to District 13, wherein he looks increasingly like Skinny Steve from Captain America, but Johanna’s nowhere to be found. Which makes perfect sense, narratively. But God damn—Jena Malone’s sasstacular hardassness was one of the best parts of Catching Fire, and taking it away from me soon after I’d come to love it was rough.
Where are you, Johanna?, I wondered to myself between expert scenes of Katniss losing her shit (seriously, Lawrence is like a more respectable Nicolas Cage) and Gale whining about how waaaah, waaaaah, Katniss doesn’t like me like I like her. World’s tiniest violin, asshole. Back to your mayo jar. No one likes you. But my bit o’ heaven from District 7 (copyright Rebecca Pahle, 2014) was nowhere to be found.
Until—THANK YOU, JESUS, FOR THE BLESSINGS YOU HAVE GIVEN US—Peeta, Johanna, and Annie get rescued (not that we actually see any of the rescue—co-screenwriter Jonathan from Buffy, what the fuck?!). Finnick has a tearful reunion with Annie. Peeta tries to kill Katniss, because he’s been brainwashed and is thus the Hunger Games equivalent to Skinny Steve and Bucky Barnes. And Johanna…
THE MOST AMAZING THREE SECONDS.
If you’ve seen the movie, you know of what I speak—she sits up from her hospital bed, her head shaved, and just sort of… sprawls out, shooting the best, least-shits-given “I am ready to fuck shit up” grin Katniss’ way that is or ever could be. Judi Dench won an Oscar for being in Shakespeare In Love for 6 minutes, and at the time I was pretty pissed about that, because, as established, I care more about the Oscars than I know I should. But I want to throw Oscars Malone’s way for making such an impression in so short a time. Oscars encrusted with diamonds and filled with warm, gooey chocolate chip cookies.
Here is my representation, in gifs, of that scene:
I did not know there were so many Power Rangers explosion gifs. My new knowledge fills me with glee, as does Johanna Mason. Shine on, you magnificent diamond.