A brand new Mockingjay Part II trailer was released today and it looks absolutely heart racing. From the trailer it looks like things are picking up right where Part I ended and boy are they heating up.
I’m super excited for this last installment of the Hunger Games franchise. So far the Mockingjay installment has been my favorite of the series. Something was missing from my chest when the lights went up after Part I. I was incredibly moved. The second part is bound to be just as breath taking.
This is a film America really needs to see right now. With the parallels of police brutality and class struggle between Panem and our own world, Mockingjay sends a powerful message. We need to unite as people and overthrow that which oppresses us. While a film franchise is hardly the solution to these problems, it raises awareness and gives the public a vessel through which to learn. Mockingjay Part II couldn’t come soon enough.
Genre – Sci-Fi Dystopian/Book Adaptation
Director – Francis Lawrence (Catching Fire)
Cast – Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Phillip Seymour Hoffman (RIP), Julianne Moore, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson
Alluring element – S*** finally gets real in the Hunger Games saga!
Check it out if you liked – The Hunger Games franchise, other young adult lit turned film
When Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games adaptation came to the big screen, I was ecstatic. Me, who had been a literary disaster since choosing to go to an engineering college after high school, who had not read a book without pictures in it since Huckleberry Finn. The Hunger Games was the first story where I felt fully immersed in the world I was reading about.So far, the movies have been pretty great at capturing that same fire (heh) and excitement that I had when I read the books for the first time. Heck, we gave Catching Fire a 91%. Only a year has passed since the second installment came out, but so much has happened since.
Jennifer Lawrence’s off-screen drama has been a severe distraction (not her fault, but a reality nevertheless), and the thought of a grown and sexy JLaw (ala American Hustle) was just too awkward when you consider she is playing a 17 year old Katniss Everdeen. The negative reception that the film has received since its release was disheartening. Going in, all this movie had to do to impress us was, quite blatantly, not suck. The result was one of mixed feelings; this film far from sucked, but from the start, we definitely felt that Mockingjay did not need to be split into two films – something that really has, or ever will, only worked for Harry Potter. The final movie in the trilogy had the potential to be the heart-pounding finale that we all deserved, but instead, the heart-wrenching powerful moments were broken up by a casually-paced and matter-of-fact story progression.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let me tell you how much I genuinely enjoyed Mockingjay. The arena has always been one of the more interesting aspects of the books, and so by actually pulling our heads out of the District 12 sandbox we’ve had our heads in this whole time, we are able to connect to the other Districts. That connection is really what drives the film until the end. From Katniss’ guest appearance in District 8 to District 5’s courageous effort at the dam, you understand that everybody is fighting against a common goal. Katniss, the Mockingjay, is at the center of all this, but while it might seem like she is the spark of hope, she is turned into nothing short of a puppet, a symbol for hope, by District 13 President Coin. It actually reminded me of the way Captain America was used to punch fake Hitlers and rile up the crowd when he had a perfectly adequate skills for actually taking on the enemy. And like Captain America, Katniss pushes herself right into harms way to get her point across.
Another big theme here is propaganda, or propos as Heavensbee would like to to call them. Basically spitting back out the same strategies that the Capitol is using against them, District 13 sends their camera crew to follow Katniss and get usable footage for these advertisements is really no better than your local Congressmen’s ads that run during Scandal. The only reason I can forgive it from 13 is that they have Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones) on the mic. But seriously, taking advantage of Katniss’ vulnerability (and, in the process, turning Jennifer Lawrence into a pop star!) during her “Hanging Tree” performance is really just as despicable as the Capitol using Peeta against her. It’s a topic I wish the film would have dove in on, especially since it had two hours to do so. Katniss is just a tool, and will be treated with such revery only as long as it serves District 13’s purpose.
On the bright side, we get a noticeable decline in both Blair Witch camera and Jennifer Lawrence cry face – a repeat offender in the first couple films. The supporting cast this time around was much stronger, too. Julianne Moore and Phillip Seymour Hoffman (RIP) play a perfect President Coin and Plutarch Heavensbee, and on the other side of the mirror, Donald Sutherland is even more frightening than before as President Snow. Jeffrey Wright also makes his return as the genius Beetee, who is finally realized as the vital character that always has been. It’s also nice to see him back to being a good guy after his villainous stint in Boardwalk Empire. The old gang also makes a return, with a made-down Effie Trinket and sober Haymitch rounding out the cast with Gale, ever-ready to play soldier and submit himself to the cause.
At some point in the movie, the revolution turned into a love story. I know this is a movie aimed at teenagers, but it can get eye-rolling at the fact that, in a middle of a rebellion, with so many other brave and adult decisions being made, a young woman’s sole interest is not overthrowing the government, but saving her boyfriend. I’ve read that Jennifer Lawrence once tried out for Bella in Twilight; well, it looks like she won’t have to be in a sucky vampire movie to play the role of Bumbling Idiot in a Love Triangle; she has that already. This is not a love story, and it doesn’t need to be a love story to keep teenage girls interested.
Overall, I really enjoyed Mockingjay: Part 1. There are many things happening and in an entirely new environment – enough to keep me engaged the entire time (and I am notorious for falling asleep through movies). That being said, I’m still convinced that a single movie to encompass the third book should have been in order. For its own two-hour block, it would have nice to touch over the more subtle themes of the book – especially the propaganda. If they were going to use it in the promotional materials, why not discuss it in the movie? There is simply too much exposition for this film to catch fire like its predecessor did. However, with the finale guaranteed to break hearts and box office records, there’s still a lot to look forward to when the finale rolls around next November.
All pictures belong to Lionsgate production company.
Genre – Dystopia, Fantasy, Scif-fi, Action, Book-to-Movie Adaptation
Director – Francis Lawrence (Constantine, I Am Legend, and no relation to Jennifer Lawrence)
Cast – Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Donald Sutherland, and Philip Seymour Hoffman
Alluring element – It’s based off the best book in The Hunger Games trilogy, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Check it out if you liked – The Hunger Games franchise, any survival movie ever.
As I rated The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and argued my points for my rating scale, I realized that my high scores are coming from a biased fan-girl prospective. That being said, Catching Fire was the most enjoyable movie I have seen since Star Trek: Into Darkness. Was it as great as the book? Well, is any movie as good as the book it was adapted from? Catching Fire is arguably the best book of author Suzanne Collins teen-based dystopian trilogy. I had very high expectations going into this film and felt greatly rewarded *gush*.
Catching Fire continues to follow the story of the winner of the Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen and the aftermath of winning the Hunger Games, particularly because of the way she won, by defying the rules of the Hunger Games and offering to kill herself with her televised lover and District 12 partner, Peeta Mellark, rather than be forced to kill him herself. If this is too confusing for you, you may want to go back and either read the first Hunger Games book or watch the movie as the sequel does not include much explanation from the original story. The consequences of winning the games is on par with actually being in the games.
Many of the reasons I am so fond of this movie is because of the clear differences between it and the first film. First off, no more motion sickness camera. Throughout the first film, I found myself having to constantly close my eyes or else get sick. With a new director on board, the jiggly first-person camera went away. We also lost the amount of dramatics the Peeta/ Katniss (Peeniss) relationship had going. The first film made their relationship so awkward it was uncomfortable to watch. I can see the argument that the reason for that was because the two had to make “a show” for the viewers from the Capitol to be interested enough to send them gifts, thus making it easier to survive, but I also think that the “love” between the two was a ploy to keep the Twi-hards of the moment involved with the story. In Catching Fire, the forced love was a ploy for the real audience, but was better acted as ploy for the people of the Capitol. It was also better demonstrated by the heart-to-heart President Snow had with Katniss at the beginning of the film about her relationship with Peeta vs. Gale. Once Katniss and Peeta ***SPOILER*** enter the games again, Katniss has genuine feelings about Peeta’s well-being and shows it better than she did the last time they almost died together.
There were many little moments that really made the film amazing for me. At one point President Snow asks his young granddaughter when she started wearing her hair in a braid, to which she says that all the girls at school are doing it. It is such a small and quiet scene, but the acting by the wonderful Donald Sutherland is enough to make it extremely significant. The dress Katniss wears, made by Cinna, to reveal as the beautiful bride turned Mockingjay aka The Face of the Rebellion is also noteworthy. When she raises her arms to reveal the wings, it culminates what readers of the book would have wanted to see.
The portrayal of the edgy victor, Johanna Mason, played by Jena Malone, was very well done. She is questionably loyal to Katniss, but proves herself worthy at the end. And she is an actress I have followed since she was a child, so it was cool to see her play a sexier, older role. The change in Effie Trinket is also nice to see. She is still all about the fashion of The Capitol, but is also very dedicated to the “team” from District 12 and is genuinely sad about the bad things that happen to each of her victors. The relationship between newcomer, but resident victor, Finnick O’Dair, played by Sam Claflin and his pseudo-mother, Mags, is really moving during their scenes in the arena.
Another note about Finnick is that he is the Aquaman of this universe, and the trident is officially cool because of it. And despite the outfit he is forced to wear to the tribute tour, he is damn sexy. The segment featuring the training arena also did an amazing job of showing how strong Katniss is. She performs at top speed while practicing her archery skills. She then shows the Game Makers her amazing skill (although not archery) during her solo evaluation. They also touched on the gratuitousness of the Capitol people who eat and then throw up just to eat more. The Game Maker’s room and the translation of that room to the actual arena was visually stunning.
It is rare when a film can capture the imagery of a book’s description so well. The arena is beautiful and the technology behind it is just as intriguing.
More importantly, the Game Maker himself, Plutarch Heavensbee, is so expertly acted by Philip Seymour Hoffman that he is reason I give the film an “A” rating. I call in the Hoffman offset. He is so intriguing and easy to hate that the twist at the end is even more shocking when the audience finds out his true nature.
Of course there were moments the movie missed. They could have been included as small allusions, as many other great moments were. It seems like at this point we should know how Haymitch won his games considering he is mentoring our two heroes, he is a complete drunk mess, and that ***SPOILER*** he is revealed to be the one who is creating the rebellion and stamping Katniss’ face on it. The way Haymitch won his game is at the least slightly important to this story. Also, despite the detail of the solo presentations by both Peeta and Katniss, it is never mentioned in their interviews with Caesar Flickerman what their final scores were from those presentations. It’s small, but I think worth nothing since it was a major scene in the first movie. Before the victory tour starts for Katniss, she discusses running away in the woods with Gale. In the book, she actually does run for a short while and finds other people who are also on the run. The movie was already a bit on the lengthy side, so it may have been purged because of time constraints, but it could have been an interesting addition to the film’s depth. And lastly, I’m putting it out there, why the hell does Peeta still have his goddamn leg?! For gods sake, it was cut off in his first tour, and if they didn’t have the guts to do it for the first film, this could have been their film. But no, its still there. and honestly, when Peeta is on the screen, I just stare at his legs with bated breath waiting for a random meat cleaver to come swinging from the jungle trees and chop it off. Perhaps they will save that for the last movie, but I’m starting to think its never to going to happen. Sigh.
The brutality in Catching Fire is worth noting. The games themselves are brutal, of course. The Careers are brutal, of course. But it is the commentary on the Government and the Peace Keepers enforcement of the peace that is particularly striking. When the people start showing signs of rebellion during the Victory Tour and during The Reaping, Peace Keepers oddly do exactly the opposite to keep the peace. There are some very hard scenes to watch because of the violence that occurs on the people in the districts. It is particularly shocking because of the juxtaposition of the dystopian society and the society we live in today. One scene shows a very brutal and bloody whipping of one rebel and may be a bit much for little ones. At the same time, it is was great to see, not because I’m a sick person, but because this movie is far from a love triangle, but rather the story of a people who are trying to make a better world because the one they live in is so controlled and the lengths those people are willing to go to accomplish that.
As a final caveat, I just have to talk about Jennifer Lawrence’s cry face. I’m not usually one to talk about how people’s faces look, because its just not nice, and I adore Jennifer Lawrence. But her cry face is just awful. And I say that with full confidence that the cry face she constantly wore during the film is not her true cry face, but the face she made especially for this film. Katniss cries all the time in the film. And I feel that she was justified in crying most of those times because she is put in so many positions that we would all cry. But the thing about Katniss is that she is supposed to be the Face of the Rebellion because she is different from previous Tributes. She is emotionally stronger and more skilled than the others that preceded her. From a feminist standpoint, it was a little annoying to see this strong-willed, smart young woman be taken down a notch by her overwhelming use of emotion and make her the weaker sex because of it. I still think Katniss is a better heroine that most teens in today’s pop-culture, but the film made her more delicate than she was portrayed in the books. That being said, with all the other social commentary going 0n, it may have been hard to relate to her by making her cold to her surroundings. The world isn’t quite ready for the full effect of Katniss Everdeen, the kick-ass teenager who changes Panem, but Catching Fire did a fine job of preparing us for those changes and the girl who will lead that rebellion; the Girl on Fire. Until next time, May the Odd be Ever in Your Favor.
The new Hunger Games: Catching Fire trailer premiered in San Diego today. It is disappointing that the previews give away the quarter quell secret now, but it looks really good. Click here to go to see it!