Much as I would love to review the newest installment of the Hunger Games trilogy (make that quadrilogy), Mockingjay: Part 1 suffers from the same phenomenon that Jason Matheson and I were discussing torpedoed much of the penultimate Harry Potter movie installment. Let’s go ahead and call it the “This Week’s Episode: Walking Around in the Woods” syndrome. I mean, if filmmakers are constantly going to split the last installment of a beloved, hotly anticipated book franchise into two separate movies, would it be too much to ask at least make sure that the bulk of the first half doesn’t involve characters literally killing time?
To be fair, there’s actually quite a bit of interest about in this newest installment, which drops the Games entirely to focus on the “moves and countermoves” of the full-blown revolutionary war in Panem. Among the movie’s most delicious, though somewhat underexplored, themes is the ironic notion that the tools of influence being used by the overtly nefarious District 1 and the underground, guerrilla inhabitants of District 13 are really one and the same. They’re both
catching fighting fire with fire through propaganda.
But even at a comparably slim two hours (compared to Catching Fire‘s 146 minutes), the film is a pretty long and ultimately unsatisfactory pit stop following its predecessor’s surprisingly engaging expansions of the first movie’s unfulfilled potential. So I’m choosing to wait and see what the second part of Mockingjay brings before I decide whether or not splitting it in two was just a way to double the grosses. (Hint: It was.)
One thing’s for sure, though. Katniss Everdeen has emerged as possibly the highest profile archer ever to grace the silver screen. Despite being not the most widely played or widely followed sport, the silver screen has seen more than its fair share of noted bow and arrow practitioners. Must be something about how photogenic that pre-release pose is. Or, sadly, because it’s apparently such a memorable way to kill people in action and horror movies. What follows is a list of the top ten in movie history. And note, this is movie history, not TV or video games. So DC Comics’ Green Arrow wasn’t considered, The Walking Dead‘s Daryl Dixon wasn’t considered, and The Legend of Zelda‘s Link wasn’t considered. (Throwing honorable mentions to both Deliverance‘s Lewis and Avatar‘s Neytiri.)
10. Mrs. Voorhees (Friday the 13th, 1980)
“Kill her, Mommy!” The climactic reveal at the end of the film that Pamela Sue Voorhees is the actual killer loose in Camp Crystal Lake is basically a reversal of the twist from Psycho, but it’s doubtful Norman Bates could bring himself to plunge an arrow through Kevin Bacon’s neck with the same level of blunt aplomb.
09. Kevin (We Need To Talk About Kevin, 2011)
This raw and (for some) too arty movie pins poor Tilda Swinton to the wall and just pummels her like she happened to accidentally stroll through a prize fight between Lars Von Trier and Michel Haneke. Swinton plays the mother of the titular Kevin, who has apparently done something terrible only the movie doesn’t actually make it clear until he whips out that bow and arrow.
08. Prince Ashitaka (Princess Mononoke, 1997)
Director Hayao Miyazaki’s most famous film stateside also features some of the most impressive archery skills to be found in an animated film. He’s fighting on the side of nature’s balance, so that doesn’t hurt.
07. Princess Merida (Brave, 2011)
So far as animated movies are concerned, though, the Prince gets trumped by the Princess. You’ve got to love a damsel who is so clearly not in distress that she, rather than letting an archery contest decide who she is forced to marry, decides to take the bow into her own hands and best the entire lot of suiters. Bullseye!
06. Hawkeye (The Avengers, 2012)
OK, Hawkeye’s ranking here is to be taken as sort of a placeholder. While Jeremy Renner’s performance as the least likely hero among the ragtag group is incredibly cool (almost fierce, even), the first movie didn’t exactly give him a whole lot to do aside from get brainwashed into some sort of intergalactic Manchurian Candidate. One presumes better moments are yet to come.
05. John Rambo (the Rambo series, 1982-2008)
Of all the people who kill people through archery, Sly Stallone’s John Rambo arguably takes the most satisfaction in doing the deed. Whether he’s a hero or a sociopath with a patriotic defense is probably up to each individual viewer. But damn, he’s a good shot.
04. Abigail Whistler (Blade: Trinity, 2004)
I apologize for already using the word “fierce” above when talking about Hawkeye. No one deserves the descriptor more among this crowd than Jessica Biel’s quick, buff, deadeye vampire slayer. Shooting arrows into the shape of the cross? Nice touch.
03. Legolas (the Lord of the Rings trilogy, 2001-2003)
Amid the moss, fungus and rosacea of Peter Jackson’s first Middle-earth trilogy, the cherubic, delicately featured fairy Legolas would probably have stood apart even without him slaying that giant dinosaur-elephant beast while riding atop it like some especially elegant and lethal spectral assassin.
02. Katniss Everdeen (the Hunger Games quadrilogy, 2012-2015)
She’s the feminist, humanist Rambo for the eschatological Millennial set. She’s a tough competitor, but an even tougher avatar for social justice. You want her on your side. No, you want to be on her side. She can take a stealth bomber down with a single arrow, and make you cry with a single close-up. Jennifer Lawrence won her Oscar for playing crazy, but future generations may well regard it crazy that she didn’t actually win for validating this bestselling material.
01. “Robin Hood” (Robin Hood Daffy, 1958)
You can’t not put Robin Hood at the top of any list of archers. But which one to choose? Many would opt for Errol Flynn’s spry minx from the preeminent Warner Brothers swashbuckler, 1938’s The Adventures of Robin Hood. Others would probably prefer Kevin Costner taming that mullety mane with his fingers in the otherwise unwatchable 1991 Prince of Thieves. Me? I prefer Daffy Duck getting put through his paces by Porky Pig’s Friar Tuck in one of Chuck Jones’ many, many Looney Tunes masterpieces. “To trip it, trip it, trip it, trip it, trip it … “