This week’s post is a guest blog courtesy of the awesome Nikki Knight!
Nikki loves Lego, Star Wars, all things nerdy, and as you’ll soon gather from this blog, The Hunger Games! Ahead of the release of the final film in The Hunger Games trilogy, Mockingjay Part 2, Nikki looks at the previous films, and what makes them so great…
The Hunger Games (2012)
What is it about?
Twelve “districts” compete in an annual “fight to the death” competition. 24 people participate (2 from each district), but there can only be one victor! As well as lots of action, this film also has a “star-crossed lovers” sub-plot between two of the main characters.
The Reaping scene is brilliant, and the way Lawrence plays her character is spot on, and incredibly emotional. I liked the way they incorporated the flashbacks as well, so we can see that there is a past between Katniss and Peeta. It makes you intrigued about the future for them and their relationship, but also who (if any of them) is going to live.
The portrayal of the Capitol is amazing; the contrast between how rich and in your face they are compared to District 12 is great. The parade and the training scenes in the Capitol are great. There’s more they could have done with the parade, but their outfits were perfect. I love how little they show of the training itself, so if you haven’t read the book, it is difficult to tell which of the tributes are the best, or who is going to die first. Katniss scores highly with the judges because of her perfect aim, but also her anger. I love the sassy line “Thank you for your consideration” as she walks off!
Perhaps the most emotional bit in the film is Katniss’ alliance with Rue; it’s a real tear-jerker! When Rue dies you can see the hurt and anger in Katniss’ eyes. They make it clear that Rue reminds her of Prim, which is why she feels so strongly that she needs to help Rue and give her a proper burial. This scene will make you cry and feel angry all at the same time!
The development of the relationship between Katniss and Peeta is great. Katniss risks her life for Peeta, and even when Peeta is teaming up with the other districts, you can tell he doesn’t really want to hurt her. You genuinely believe that they do love each other. This is proven even more so with the berries; Katniss would rather they both died than have to kill each other. This also sets up the storyline for the later films, as you can bet the Capitol didn’t like being fooled!
The final scene is probably my favourite scene. It all happens so fast, going from a worried Haymitch telling Katniss what to say, to President Snow walking away because she has tricked him. I honestly can’t flaw any of these actors, they all did such an amazing job, and portrayed all characters exactly as I imagined them in the book.
I honestly can’t say a lot of bad things about this film, being a huge fan of both the film and books. However, it does bother me that they don’t develop the back-story about Katniss and Prim’s dad dying; they have one flashback but it doesn’t explain anything.
There are a couple of plot holes as well. The one which immediately springs to mind is where does Peeta get the equipment from to disguise himself in the arena?! I mean yeah he did an amazing job turning himself into a rock, but surely he’d need some kind of paintbrush or paints? Also it doesn’t explain the reason why he is so good at this. You’ll know if you read the books, but without the explanation, it makes the scenes where he disguises himself funnier than it should’ve been which is distracting.
I feel like they could have had more cuts to people watching the games at home. You’re so invested in the film that you kind of forget it’s a televised reality competition!
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
What is it about?
A year on from the 74th Hunger Games, the joint victors Katniss and Peeta are on a victory tour, and all seems well. However the Quarter Quell is coming up, and after embarrassing the Capitol and making a mockery of their prestigious games, Katniss and Peeta’s happiness could be short lived, and an unexpected plot twist sees them competing again in a fight to the death.
I don’t think this film could have started any better; Katniss back home and hunting with Gale. This creates a great link between this film and the first one. The flashbacks Katniss has shows that she’s trying to stay strong but inside she’s damaged by her experiences in the games.
As with the previous film, I cannot flaw any of the actor’s performances. From Katniss showing no emotion to seeing Snow in her house, to talking about Rue on tour. This film is an emotional rollercoaster throughout, which keeps you hooked.
The idea behind the Quarter Quell, and having the previous victors compete again is brilliant! This keeps the excitement alive as it’s not just another Game. There are new things at stake, and anticipation as to what the games are going to be like.
The Quarter Quell itself is really interesting to watch and very different to the Games seen in the first film as there are some different elements and storylines. However some of the themes carry on, such as fear and unlikely alliances. The monkey mutts are even more terrifying than the dogs in the first film and will probably give you nightmares! I love the unexpectedly touching relationship between Finnick and Mags, and when she dies you really feel for him as you can sense how close they are. I like that they keep cutting back to the watchers as well (Plutarch mainly), as it reminds you what they’re doing is all for show.
This film ends quite abruptly, as the Games end prematurely and Katniss is airlifted out of the arena to find out that there is no more District 12. A whole range of emotions are shown here, and you can see that hatred on Katniss’ face. Definitely a revenge face!
Out of the 3 films, this is probably the one I dislike the most. There’s lots of good points, and it is a necessity to make the trilogy complete, but it just didn’t grab me like the first film did. It starts really well, but really slows down later on, and I think it’s a bit overlong as well.
When Plutarch is introduced, it only shows him being introduced to Katniss; more explanation would have been good here as you don’t find out why until the end of the film. The books is much better at dropping hints about why this is important!
I love Prim, but her character does a complete 180 from the first film! She goes from a timid child, to suddenly being very grown up and very responsible; it’s like a complete personality change! I understand a lot of things have changed since the first film, but maybe they could have developed her character more. Perhaps she is trying to be more like Katniss, or maybe it is because when Katniss wasn’t around she had to take more responsibility in the home? Either way, this could have been explored further.
The arena for these Games starts off in the water, and as explained in the books, most of the people in the districts would never have swum before. There is no explanation as to why everyone can swim if most of them have never been taught.
Late in the film when they are coming up with a plan to destroy the force field, there are several leaps in logic. Firstly, how did Beetee know that the coil was going to reach the water without testing it? Also how did Katniss know when to shoot the arrow so it was perfect timing? I think they could’ve explained this better.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014)
What is it about?
After it emerges that the 75th Hunger Games was an ambush, a war starts between the Capitol and the Districts, as they begin an uprising to revolt against the oppressive Capitol.
As the films progress, they get more emotional, and this is definitely the most emotional of the three (so far!). If you’ve read the books you will know why, if not you’ll just have to wait and find out! Finnick is shown more in this film which I enjoy because he’s a great character and the acting is amazing. The raw emotion when he says that he wishes everyone was dead is heart-breaking.
Katniss is told the rebellion needs a voice and that she needs to be the “Mockingjay” and the symbol of the rebellion. She reacts angrily as she thinks Peeta should have been saved as per her arrangement with Haymitch. You see her anger build after seeing District 12, and after the events in District 8, however her anger is now aimed at the Capitol rather than Plutarch and Haymitch. The scene where she sees District 12 in ruins is perfect. No words were needed, just the music and her expressions. This is stark contrast to the first images we see of District 12 in the first two films.
Despite being a very serious film, there is some humour as well. When Katniss decides she will be the Mockingjay, but is laying down her conditions, “My sister gets to keep her cat” is the last thing you expect to come out of her mouth, and it’s pretty funny! When Effie turns up in all her glory without any make up or dresses, making it clear no one can take her place to look after Katniss everything seems a bit lighter as you can’t help but laugh at Effie being Effie despite the seriousness of the scene.
After Cinna’s death in Catching Fire, you find out the plan has been in action for a while after she sees her outfit for the first time. You can’t help but feel sad that Cinna isn’t there to see her in the beautiful outfit he designed for her. After filming a few propos, the normally not very helpful Haymitch turns up and helps out. After the pile of rubbish they’ve been filming it’s a breath of fresh air knowing a better propo is going to be filmed now he’ sober and full of ideas!
Despite not being in the film much, we do keep checking in with Peeta as he is being used as the Capitol’s puppet. With every interview, he looks worse and worse making it obvious that he is being tortured and worse. Whilst everyone else may call him a “traitor”, you can see that Katniss sees through this as she realised what they’re doing to him. In the last interview he warns them all about the plans for bombing District 13, which gives them a head start to get to safety.
After the bombing you see Finnick tell stories to the camera about Snow and the Capitol, all of these stories being the secrets he has collected over the years. He explains that he was a slave, and tells the world how it really is. The pain in his voice shows that he is speaking such truth. Katniss then attempts to distract Snow by addressing him directly, in order to enable a team led by Gale to go and rescue Peeta, Joanna and Annie. However it turns out it’s a trap (to quote Star Wars!), and emotions run high as we fear for Gale and the others who are on the rescue mission. However they return safely, but Gale seems distracted that it was all too easy.
We find out quickly the reason why it was too easy, Peeta has been fear conditioned and attacks Katniss. He is now a weapon of the Capitol, and Snow knew they would try to rescue him, and let it happen. Even when you know what is coming, this scene is still so shocking as Katniss quickly goes from relief to utter fear as she can no longer see the person she loves.
This is probably my joint favourite (with the first film) so there aren’t many bad things to talk about.
I don’t really rate the actress who plays Coin, and I don’t think you find out enough about her. I’m hoping we get to see her develop more in Part 2.
Last thing I wanted to mention is that I feel like it should have left it at Katniss being strangled. This would have really shocked people and would leave you desperate to find out what is going to happen in the next part!
Hopes for Mockingjay Part 2…
My hopes are very high for the next film, not just because I’m a massive Hunger Games fan and I’ve read the books, but because of where they left Part 1. It makes you ask so many questions about how they get into the Capitol to overthrow it and the future for Katniss and Peeta. I know it’s going to be the most emotional of the lot, and I think if you haven’t read the books then you need to emotionally prepare yourselves! I’m fully expecting it to be really sad, and if it’s not then I’m probably going to be quite disappointed! However The Hunger Games films haven’t let me down so far (Catching Fire, you did a little bit!) so I’m excited to see how it ends.
Please share your thoughts on The Hunger Games in the comments below, don’t forget to share with your friends, and “may the odds be ever in your favour”.