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

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the hunger games mockingjay part 2

“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!

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

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catching fire poster

“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.

Review: Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins

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Hunger Games #3

SYNOPSIS: My name is Katniss Everdeen.
Why am I not dead?
I should be dead.

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss’s family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding.

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans–except Katniss.

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels’ Mockingjay–no matter what the personal cost. – via Goodreads

GRADE 7I am so over Katniss being this tortured soul, though I understand certain aspects of it, this is war. Also, this thing with her, Peeta and Gale is madness. Gale understands that she will only ever pay any attention to him when he is in pain, and it seems the same holds true when it comes to Peeta. It is almost like she then feels obligated to satisfy and love one of them. Again, I agree with Haymitch’s assessment that she would never deserve Peeta, no matter what. I really wish we had a better understanding of what Gale did later on in life when the book ends. It was a typical and classic Suzanne Collins ending, quick and rushed. However, this is the one time I don’t feel that she could get away with it seeing as there is not another book to pick up the pieces and bind them all fairly again. I honestly feel that some more explanation was required for us all to be one hundred percent satisfied, not only partly. Katniss also seemed to slot into killing people rather quickly, though she fights tooth and nail with Gale about it all the time. Had me wondering a bit there. I understand the circumstances that surrounded that, but really, if you get complicated about it, Gale is thinking of that feeling all the time he is making plans, not just when it is actually happening. Suzanne Collins may not be my favourite writer in terms of style, etc. but I have to give her credit for a great story, one of the better ones we have seen in years. I loved this trilogy.

SPOILER: I find it unfair of readers to hate on Gale because of the unfortunate bombs in the Capitol that killed Prim. This is war, and there are casualties. It does not make it right, but he was not even aware of the use of his concept weapon. Also, it really got my goose how Katniss made it seem like she was sacrificing so much and doing Peeta a favour by being with him and having his children right at the end. Even then it was almost like she was not entirely happy.

Review: Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins

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Hunger Games #2

SYNOPSIS: Sparks are igniting.
Flames are spreading.
And the Capitol wants revenge.

Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and her longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol – a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she’s afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she’s not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol’s cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can’t prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

In Catching Fire, the second novel in the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, testing her more than ever before…and surprising readers at every turn. – via Goodreads

GRADE 7.5The book was pretty well written, although I again felt Katniss was sometimes overly selfish. The Peeta-Gale-Katniss love triangle is starting to work on my nerves. Who is she to play them off against one another like that? I understand she is lost and confused, and that the situation sometimes impresses such things on her, but she cannot push them both away then pull them back then throw one another up in each others faces all the time. It is one or the other, sweetheart, and I agree wholeheartedly with Haymitch when he tells her that she will never deserve Peeta. I must say, the book took us through the motions of rebellion, fear, fight and flight emotions, blackmail, and escape very well. The story was solid, and the second part of the book, the arena, happened pretty fast, but not overly so. Finnick Odair is by far my favourite character of the series. He is strong, sweet and out there. I think I need to add something here: I do not dislike Katniss, I just feel that she can be so weak at times,  all the while proclaiming to be so strong and well put together. I get that she is too afraid to lose Gale or Peeta, but what she is doing would realistically drive them both away from her. Again, the conclusion of the book is typical Suzanne Collins, so very fast and in a blur. However, it worked very well this time, solidly putting through the perception and feeling of a haze and rush and reality slipping in and out of focus all the time.

Review: The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

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Hunger Games #1

SYNOPSIS: Winning will make you famous.
Losing means certain death.

The nation of Panem, formed from a post-apocalyptic North America, is a country that consists of a wealthy Capitol region surrounded by 12 poorer districts. Early in its history, a rebellion led by a 13th district against the Capitol resulted in its destruction and the creation of an annual televised event known as the Hunger Games. In punishment, and as a reminder of the power and grace of the Capitol, each district must yield one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 through a lottery system to participate in the games. The ‘tributes’ are chosen during the annual Reaping and are forced to fight to the death, leaving only one survivor to claim victory.

When 16-year-old Katniss’s young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives, some of whom have trained for this their whole lives. , she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature. – via Goodreads

GRADE 7I understand the concept of it being a book for young adults, but it was pretty decent. I know there are people that are comparing this to Battle Royale, but I never read that, so for me this was new and on it’s own. I did not like the way the love component was written in, it seemed a bit childish and flaky, but at the same time I need to remember that this was a book aimed at a younger generation. I liked it in a sense, but became very frustrated at other times. I was rooting for Peeta and Gale both at the same time, but you can see that Katniss is confused about them, and thinks purely about herself first, she is rather selfish in that sense. Both are good men, but who does she feel for? The story was refreshing, something new, and the books really were very easy to get into and get hooked on. The only thing I had to get used to was the fact that the book was written in the first person and present tense, which for me is very different from my usual stuff, and every now and then it throws you. I did not suffer from that reading it the second time around, because I knew how the writing  style worked. I must say, you can see that it is a book written by a woman and about a woman, there is a lot of fashion and beauty stuff that goes down that the average man is not overly familiar with, but it is bearable and you can overlook it the moment Katniss enters the arena. Suzanne Collins wrote it well that every now and then the full force of the injustice of murdering children for sport and punishment smacks you squarely, and again I was reminded about how terrible people can be to one another. A pretty decent read, I must admit.

SPOILER: I wish that Katniss would have been honest with Peeta on the train on the way home and told him how she felt, the last few paragraphs on the train that Collins wrote about. I really think that that would have changed the dynamic between them completely, made things more bearable. Again, her selfishness wins out, however, and Peeta is left to flounder about what happened with them in the arena. If he knew where he stood with her, everything would have been so different.