I know how it feels to be a fan of something. I grew up on the Harry Potter books, and I remember being extremely salty every time the studio released a movie that wasn’t exactly like the book. Growing older, I started to realize that much of what was cut was usually a bunch of minutiae or odd details that didn’t contribute to the narrative or made the canon impenetrable to an outside audience.
I guess the rabidity associated with “The Hunger Games” has terminated this practice, because from what I understand “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2” was a faithful adaptation. Maybe the executives were worried that legions of teenage girls would assail their homes and offices with Jennifer Lawrence patterned bows and arrows and decided to not change anything. I think this is a poor decision however, as the fact remains that the writing in “The Hunger Games” simply isn’t very good.
From what I was able to garner from osmosis, the war between the capital and the rest of Panem is going well for the rebels, except for the fact that Katniss has some random neck injury and Peeta has been brainwashed into more of a whiny bitch than usual, with a desire to murder Katniss mixed in. Everyone seems to treat this like a big deal, but since Peeta’s skills seem to be only be wooden acting and painting, I doubt anyone’s life was ever in imminent danger around him. With victory within grasp, Katniss and some former Hunger Games tributes team up to film some propaganda footage in the besieged capital. You would think that in a world with hovercrafts and futuristic holograms, they could just film on a soundstage, but huge lapses in logic are par for the course in most young adult novels.
The characters all behave and act like there’s lead in the water supply and everyone is either in a state of ironic-reference or blubbering insecurity. This is most prevalent in the final film, and watching Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) mouth breathe at the camera while Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) cries in the background doesn’t make for a good film. Trying to pretend a bunch of teenagers wandering around a city is a gritty war drama would be like filming some toddlers playing cops and robbers and releasing it as a lost season of “The Wire.”
If you’re a fan, I’m sure you’ve already seen it, written on Tumblr about it and posted an Instagram of your ticket stub. This article isn’t for you, and since you’re probably 14, I have to say I’m impressed you got hold of a college newspaper. This is more for those of you who are on the fence about seeing what this “Hunger Games” business is all about. I have to say, after watching the first film and the last, I’m not sold. The only reason I even reviewed it was because I hadn’t torn apart a movie in a few weeks and had to resort to yelling insults at random pedestrians. What started out as a “Battle Royale” rip-off has grown into a sub-par war movie, with the only positive outcome being that people will finally stop talking about “The Hunger Games.”
Eventually things go (predictably) wrong and the unit starts getting picked off one by one. Now, the unit is made up of Katniss and her two boy toys, PTSD Peeta and eminent war-crimes Gale (Liam Hemsworth), while the rest are people I didn’t recognize, the black, grizzled commander, his no-nonsense second-in-command and a guy who got married literally the night before. Try guessing who of them die, pretending you’re the laziest writer ever.
Eventually the surviving members reach the city center even though they acted less like a military unit and more like they were at the laser tag, and come up with a half-assed plan to sneak into the presidential palace, their disguises consisting of a hoodie and nothing else. Katniss doesn’t even go through the trouble of cutting her hair or putting on makeup and honestly seemed surprised when people started to recognize her. Then again, President Snow was waiting at his mansion even as rebel forces closed around him, so I guess lacking common sense is the uniting factor amongst all citizens of Panem.
Without trying to spoil too much, the rebels do something more terrible than anything the capital tried at the end of the film, leading Katniss to assassinate the head of the rebels. While I get that this is about vengeance and ending another corrupt tyrant, the woman never had a trial and Katniss gets away scot-free at the end. It all felt so token and disjointed, and I found it odd that Katniss gets a free pass for murder just because she was the face of the revolution.
Now, I did like some of the cinematography and the use of practical sets instead of over-the-top CGI. The movie also had some sense to not end the film on an overly happy note, showing both Katniss and Peeta suffering some lingering mental scars from their youth. Having a bittersweet ending shows a surprising amount of narrative restraint that many young adult writers lack, and “The Hunger Games” series could have been better served if Collins applied some of that restraint to the rest of the film.
I hope that there’s never a sequel. With how crazy Katniss and Peeta ended up, their kids are either going to end up drowned in the bathtub or Peeta is going to strangle Katniss next time he gets startled by a gust of wind or a spider in the shower.
Rating: 1 star