After only seeing the first one in the cinema, The Hunger Games Trilogy hasn’t really appealed if I’m honest. The first was pretty mediocre for me the first time I saw it and never since thought it important to see it again. However after seeing the trailer for the final episode, in what is now four films, I really felt the urge to try them again. The trailer for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 literally gave me goosebumps, I had no idea why! Watch that trailer here. So I thought it best that I get ready for this instalment, due to be released on November 20th by watching the first three films. I had mixed feelings about the films, although I can now say I am ready for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2.
The series is based in the futuristic setting of Panem, a great civilization built in the ruins of North America. The population is formed of the Capitol and then twelve districts around it. The Capitol is rich and wealthy whilst the various districts live in poverty providing resources and supplies for the central Capitol. To punish the districts for past rebellions, there is an annual Hunger Games, where two tributes from each district fight to death in an arena. The Hunger Games is mainly used to show the higher district’s dominance over the lower ones until the arrival of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence). A tribute from District 12, who volunteered to go into the games instead of her sister, brings down the system. Along with her fellow tribute Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), they win their own Hunger Games, sparking revolution amongst the districts as no-one from such a low district has won before. This certainly ruffles the feathers of President Snow (Donald Sutherland) who seeks to quell any inkling of a revolt against the higher districts. Katniss has become a symbol of the Mockingjay revolution so Snow takes many opportunities to remove her, including creating a Champion’s Hunger Games in the second film Catching Fire. After another close escape, Katniss lives undercover in the secret location of District 13, stirring up a form of rebellion, whilst keeping herself and those she loves alive. In Mockingjay Part 2 we see that she is ready to storm the Capitol and remove President Snow from power.
As a series of films you cannot deny that it has been avidly successful, exploding through box office sales. They have casted an all-star list of actors to play roles including: Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, Liam Hemsworth, Natalie Dormer and the late Philip Seymour Hoffman to name a few. There has certainly been a lot of backing and hype for the already successful book series by Suzanne Collins, yet I feel the films have somehow lost their way a little on the voyage to the big screen. With Jennifer Lawrence playing the main heroine I felt as though the focus had shifted away from the true meanings behind the Hunger Games. I love the aspects of the rebellion and how the politics work amongst this new civilisation. The power plays over the districts with the use of the Hunger Games tournament are the most interesting parts for me. However, I feel as though the film plot strays dangerously into the realms of angsty teens falling in love with each other. There is the incessant love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gale, which seems to take the focus away from the important parts all too often. In Mockingjay Part 1, Katniss seems more intent on the safe return of Peeta than succeeding in taking the Capitol. Her values don’t seem in line with the cause she is fighting for. I struggle to empathise or vouch for her as she just seems as though she could slot easily into a Twilight film. Despite surviving a couple of Hunger Games she does seem bit useless, not really my kind of heroine. Except, when an arrow needs to be fired she is there for at least one fancy CGI scene at least. I want her to fight for the cause and not her own needs, I want better choices from her in the last film.
The one aspect of the Hunger Games that they have remained true to it’s the political aspect of Panem. There is evident tension between the higher class Capitol and the lower class districts that are expected to provide for the rich. It is easy to read into the dynamic of the poor rising up to overcome the rich and The Hunger Games has a French Revolution feel, although I don’t think we’ll be seeing President Snow being beheaded come the end of the next film. One clever tool that is focused on is the propaganda side of this society. No broadcasts that come out of the Capitol are unrehearsed, they all have an aim to convey a message to those below them. On the opposing side, the revolution use their own propaganda to stir up revolution amongst some of the districts, which is especially dominant in Mockingjay Part 1. It wasn’t a Deathly Hallows Part 1 where nothing much of interest happened. It was very politically charged which I really enjoyed, possibly ranking it higher than the previous two films in my estimations. Not that the other films aren’t worth watching, they too mark the start of a rebellion and we get a different kind of film as it primarily takes place within the walls of the arena.
Now onto Mockingjay Part 2, it looks as though the rebels are about to storm the Capitol, yet it has been rigged with traps to throw them off course. It may seem a bit gimmicky, but I like how they have stayed true to the Hunger Games style. I am hoping for a true action fest that we have already gotten a glimpse of in The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. If we can cut some Katniss pathetic-ness, that’d be great too. After seeing the previous films I can understand why the next is so highly anticipated, and I’m secretly glad there’s not too long to wait until the next instalment. These are by no means the best films ever made, but as a series they are well worth watching, and I’m hoping that the last instalment won’t let us down.
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