‘Mockingjay’ Teaser Proves The Movie Will Be Better Than The Book

Panem forever.

How good is the teaser for “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1″ that was just released this morning? So good that despite some strong reservations about the content of the book its based on, I can not wait for this movie.

Spoilers for “Mockingjay” past this point.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the “Hunger Games” books. I’m a dyed-in-wool Tribute, through and through. But the book “Mockingjay” is a bizarre ending for the trilogy, spending the majority of its running time with a near catatonic Katniss refusing to step up and be the hero we want her to be.

She gets addicted to drugs, mostly engages in publicity ops rather than action and only does anything remotely heroic at the very end of the book; though even her eventual call to action is a move that feels very much like giving up.

Not the greatest fodder for a movie, let alone two movies…

But then the ad campaign for the first of two “Mockingjay” films has started to rev up, and even someone like me, who has trepidations about the whole affair, is starting to get excited.

The reason is the tone. Not that “Hunger Games” started in a very happy place — what with the kids killing each other in death games and all — but “Catching Fire” revved up the darkness for the series in a big way. With Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) captured and brainwashed by the Capitol and President Snow (Donald Sutherland) sending out fascist messages to the populace, this new promo is setting the stage for two sequels that are pitch black, scary, and amp the tension in a way the novel didn’t.

That last part is the most important. Not to get all preachy, but the differences in how scenes play in movies versus books are often vast, and that’s what the teaser (and hopefully the movie) gets right. The creepy coloring (or lack thereof), the slow turn of Peeta’s head and more than anything the “triumphant” music of the Capitol indicate that the war of words and publicity that plays flat on the page may be the opposite on screen.

Yes, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) may spend most of the time on screen doing publicity ops for the rebellion in a stupor, but it’s the music and general feel of menace that may pervade those scenes that will make the movie seat-grippingly good.

Or, it could just be a really good ad campaign, who knows? Either way, we’ll have a good idea whether the movie has trumped the book when “Part 1″ opens on November 21.

Writer/Editor at MTV News. You can follow him on Twitter, but not in real life because that would be weird.
@azalben