Rapid Review: The Hunger Games – Mockingjay Part II (2015)

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“Our lives were never ours, they belong to Snow and our deaths do too. But if you kill him, Katniss, all those deaths, they mean something.”
– Peeta Mellark

SYNOPSIS: As the war of Panem escalates to the destruction of other districts by the Capitol, Katniss Everdeen, the reluctant leader of the rebellion, must bring together an army against President Snow, while all she holds dear hangs in the balance. – via IMDB

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GRADE 7I was excited for this, I really was. I was unhappy with the split of this book into two movies, and it seems that that was justified. I just don’t quite get it… you all know I was not really a fan of Mockingjay Part I. It felt unnecessary, though it was interesting to explore some of the political issues there. Then there is Mockingjay Part II, and it is uneven, and a mess, and somehow manages to feel so rushed. I don’t get it. There are also things that really irritated me. The main two offenders being SPOILERS that Finnick’s death was not done more justice – because it was really just glossed over in the book, and that Prim barely featured, so her death  meant absolutely nothing here. The movie felt cluttered, and it was not nearly as smooth as Catching Fire, which remains the crowning moment for this franchise. I maintain that Jennifer Lawrence succeeded in making Katniss Everdeen far more likable than she ever was in the books (ask anyone – Everdeen is a total pet peeve of mine, ugh, whiny brat). This is not the worst way to end out the franchise, but really less oomph than I was expecting. Visually, of course, the movie was great to look at, but I was extremely disappointed in the pods at the outer edge of the city. Way less bang for my buck than I was expecting. The conclusion is also portrayed in a far more upbeat manner than the book, which is much better for me because the book made me want to throw it out of frustration because Katniss is such a selfish child. The trailer contained all the really good things, unfortunately, so there was spans of filler stuff (for me) while watching this. I feel that the cast again did a fantastic job with their characters, bringing all of them to life, though many characters were glossed over. Sam Claflin is still fantastic as Finnick Odair, Josh Hutcherson is precisely what you would expect Peeta to be, and Liam Hemsworth is a really good Gale, exactly what I pictured him to be (don’t know why he gets so much hate – but then I have only ever seen him in this franchise). That’s just glossing over the main cast, as it really is just too large to talk about them all, but just know that they all worked very well with what they were given. I liked this alright, but I did not love it – it just feels like it never really took off like it was supposed to. It felt unpolished, unfinished, and uneven. That being said, it is still a fun franchise, and I am totally looking forward to a nice box set to add to my collection!

Review: The Hunger Games – Mockingjay Part I (2014)

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“I never wanted any of this, I never wanted to be in the Games, I just wanted to save my sister and keep Peeta alive.”
– Katniss Everdeen

SYNOPSIS: With the Games now destroyed and in pieces, Katniss Everdeen, along with Gale, Finnick and Beetee, now end up in the so thought “destroyed” District 13. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her friends, Katniss becomes the “Mockingjay” and the symbol of rebellion for the people. – via IMDB

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GRADE 6.5So we all know that the entire world has been waiting for this with bated breath and immense amounts of participation. The reviews came back, mixed. Very. Irrespective of, I had to go see this. Now that I am free of my exams, I could do this without stress and worrying about anything. Yay. Now, there are a lot of things this movie did right, and there were a lot of things that I was not fond of. There was a lot that they stuck to in the books, and other things that they certainly could have developed more that they just didn’t (big eyes here at the Gale and Finnick sections). I mean, Gale ended up looking like a jackass at a stage when he freaked about Peeta, simply because there was no proper build up. Haymitch was underused, and the fact that they dropped the Finnick in his underwear scene was criminal. I was not expecting a huge action film going in, knowing how they split the book into two films, I knew that Part I was going to be significantly slower (the first half of the book was, too). What I didn’t expect was it to feel like it was dragging, trying to fill up the runtime at the best of times. Pity, too. I don’t mind a slow burn or a drama or anything, but then those elements have to take over and keep you completely enthralled, which did not really happen here. I was not happy either when Finnick delivered his huge exposé speech either, because they kept punctuating it with the rescue scenes, which would have been fine (I mean I understood what they were going for), but they let those scenes drag on too long without Finnick talking or focused too much on the event punctuating his speech, so when he comes back and he’s saying something, you have forgotten what he has said already, and the OMG bit of all of it is underplayed, and it was an important bit. The performances from the cast were very good all round though. Julianne Moore was great as President Coin, Philip Seymour Hoffman was still a wonderful Plutarch, though I wish there had been more of him, Liam Hemsworth finally gets more screen time (though I still think they needed to do so much more with his character), and Sam Claflin was solid as Finnick as always, though I really wish we had seen more of him (the mistreatment of his character in here was criminal), and Elizabeth Banks was entertaining as always, though she was not really supposed to be such a big part of events. I liked her nonetheless. There were some logic issues that got under my skin (most of it having to do with the hiding in the bunker thing), and the shaky cam stuff annoyed me endlessly, too. I was happy that the reunions were done well (Finnick, Peeta, etc). I was worried they would manage to screw that up, but it worked wonders. Overall this is not a bad flick, it’s just that so much more could have been done.

 

Rapid Review: The Hunger Games – Catching Fire (2013)

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“I agree she should die but in the right way. At the right time. Katniss Everdeen is a symbol. We don’t have to destroy her, just her image.”
– Plutarch Heavensbee

SYNOPSIS: Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark become targets of the Capitol after their victory in the 74th Hunger Games sparks a rebellion in the Districts of Panem. – via IMDB

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GRADE 8.5So I strolled myself and my themed nails into this film, incredibly excited as well as wary over what it would hold. My biggest worry came in with Sam Claflin to play the ever detectable Finnick Odair. Was he up for it? Just oh my and wow yes. This movie worked on so many levels and completely thrilled me. It was also very loyal to the book. There were no boring moments that had me begging for the time to just hustle up already, and I was awed by the manner in which Francis Lawrence pulled this together. Philip Seymour Hoffman was fantastic in his role as Plutarch Heavensbee. Elizabeth Banks was finally given a lot more screen time, and built up Effie’s character a lot. Woody Harrelson is ever entertaining as the pisscat Haymitch, and played the drunken fool so well. The anger that burns within Gale is portrayed so well by Liam Hemsworth, and his whipping had me at the edge of my seat, even though I was expecting it. The relationship between the victors was shown and it captures the essence of their anger and betrayal at having to be sent back into their nightmares. Jennifer Lawrence remains a phenomenal cast for Katniss Everdeen, and the movies really manage to take away that totally annoying part of her character that the books brought in at the best of times. The arena was simply fantastic, and all the actors cast to play the victors and tributes from the various districts were so well done, and completely captured everything. Jena Malone is definitely someone to highlight from the lot. Sam Claflin gave Finnick the epic upper hand and I am pleased to say that he got me to believe in his abilities. He isn’t a bad actor; I was just so worried that he would not have the energy Finnick does. I am pleased to say that my worries were unfounded, Finnick remains my favourite character, and Claflin does him justice. Catching Fire far outstrips its predecessor, and is well worth the watch! I was so impressed with this movie, and if they can conclude the final two movies in this strain, this will be one of those absolutely great film series! (Can I just hem hem here at the Potter debacle…). Tom, let’s sound like gushing schoolgirls!

Review: The Hunger Games (2012)

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“Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective. A lot of hope is dangerous. Spark is fine, as long as it’s contained.”
– President Snow

Sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen’s (Jennifer Lawrence) life is turned upside down when her sister Primrose (Willow Shields) is chosen as Tribute at the annual Reaping for the Hunger Games. Decades ago there was a war where the Capitol was damn near overthrown by the general population, and the leaders rose up with an idea: as punishment to the districts every year for their rebellion they would pay a price. The price was that one male and one female “tribute” between the ages of twelve and eighteen would be chosen to fight to the death. There are twelve districts. That is twenty three children led to their slaughter – with only one survivor.

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“Root for your favourite, cry when they get killed. It’s sick.” – Gale Hawthorne

Katniss volunteers to take her sister’s place, and leaves her best friend Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) behind. Gale hates the Games, and wishes that they could do something about the awful predicament that the districts are in, but it is wishful thinking – nobody wants to rise up against their oppressors. Katniss goes to the Capitol with the male tribute of her district, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), where they undergo makeovers and training. Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) is their mentor, but a drunkard is hardly what they need when they have to know about survival. Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) is also useless, and typically from the Capitol, her attitude, clothing, etc. mimicking everything that causes Katniss her suffering. She relaxes somewhat around her stylist Cinna (Lenny Kravitz), who is very chilled, easy-going and calming.

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“I volunteer! No! I volunteer! I volunteer as tribute!” – Katniss Everdeen

Soon, however, Peeta declares his love for Katniss on television, making them the star-crossed lovers from District 12, a pair that the audience falls in love with after their daring entry into the competition. Gale is tasked with caring for Katniss’s family back home while she fights the Games to return home. Soon they are sent into the Arena, and all hell breaks loose. Katniss needs to survive more than ever, and her personality and resilience charms the Capitol of Panem, the people are crazy about her. Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley), the head Gamemaker, changes a lot of things in the arena against her purely for entertainment purposes. In the arena, Katniss is devastated to learn that Peeta is working with a group of tributes to hunt her down and kill her, and the pain she suffers is palpable that only one survivor can leave the arena. She later joins forces with a twelve year old girl named Rue (Amandla Stenberg) from District 11, and the two of them fight their way through the arena, desperate to stay alive.

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“I just keep wishing I could think of a way to show them that they don’t own me. If I’m gonna die, I wanna still be me. Does it make any sense?” – Peeta Mellark

The Gamemakers announce that this year two victors may be crowned as long as they are from the same district. Katniss now has an issue. Will she survive the 74th Hunger Games? What is Peeta playing at, professing his love for her to all the residents of Panem, and then turning against her when the time comes? Will they be able to reunite and bury the hatchet to be crowned the 74th Hunger Games victors? Will they go home to their families, or be slaughtered in the Caiptol?

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“I told her that I would try to win. That I would try to win for her.” – Katniss Everdeen

Hunger Games earns a 7.5/10 for me. This was an incredibly good adaption of the book for me, which in theory should have been difficult seeing as the book was written first person, present tense. The one thing that Katniss Everdeen has going for her character in here that she never did in the book is that you don’t get such a look at her selfishness. Jennifer Lawrence was well cast as Katniss, and carries her well. Liam Hemsworth is simply fantastic as Gale, and I think he is great. Josh Hutcherson works fine for Peeta, and for the most part gets him right, but there are times where he sort of misses the plot a little in terms of character. Showing more of the Gamemakers and the setup of the Arena and how it was manipulated is essential to show the viewer what is going on seeing as it does not have that internal contemplation all the time that explains other people controlling the Hunger Games, hence Seneca Crane got a much bigger role. Stanley Tucci was excellent as Caesar Flickerman, and got the essence of the character well done. I just want to mention loving me some Woody Harrelson in here, the man really is fun. I would not say that this movie/book series is for everyone, as I know there are plenty of people that do not like it, but I enjoyed it.