Classic Review: The Hunger Games Series (2012-2015)

Since I’ve started this site, I’ve written a lot of reviews. In case you missed some of my earlier ones, I would like to share an older review of “The Hunger Games” series which can be found here.

The Hunger Games

In what was once North America, the Capitol of Panem maintains its hold on its 12 districts by forcing them each to select a boy and a girl, called Tributes, to compete in a nationally televised event called the Hunger Games. Every citizen must watch as the youths fight to the death until only one remains. District 12 Tribute Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has little to rely on, other than her hunting skills and sharp instincts, in an arena where she must weigh survival against love.

So I didn’t see any of the movies or read any of the books but I am still aware of the series and all of its three (and almost four) films so far. I think I must have been the only one who hasn’t yet. It’s human nature for things in this first film to not seem as climactic when you’ve previously known things about films past and future. This review will be based on this.

This film took place in what seems like some dystopian future but we never really got an explanation about how this world came to be. We start off by seeing Katniss (Lawrence) trying to hunt for food for her family including her mother (Paula Malcomson) and her sister (Willow Shields) (they mentioned a father but I’m not sure how he died). Her family appears to be poor and the residents of each District appear to be poor as well. She lives in District 12 with her friends Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). Her life soon gets interrupted when her sister gets selected as a tribute (participant) in this year’s annual Hunger Games, a televised event where male and female youth from each district are selected at random to fight to the death (that’s why these are YA novels). They don’t really explain why this is the case but the explanation we do get just seemed silly to me. When her sister gets selected as a tribute, Katniss volunteers to compete in her place. Her friend Peeta gets selected as well. So the majority of the film after that is just her and Peeta being introduced to this world and preparing themselves to compete in these Hunger Games. These two get assistance with this from Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), and Cinna (Lenny Kravitz). Once they finally do get to compete (it took a while to get to this point), they must face the elements, the landscape, and the other participants. The actual Hunger Games itself was quite a letdown when it was something that had to potential to be exciting (the subject matter as far as I’ve heard had “R” level violence but was watered down to cater to a wider PG-13 audience). I found the violence to be quite muted and infrequent as most of the killing was offscreen and implied. But a film/book called “The Hunger Games” isn’t necessarily about the games itself but it was about Katniss and Peeta having to stick together and survive the games. The second half of the film serves to further develop the friendship/relationship between the two teens. This worked as the acting of Lawrence and Hutcherson were good here as well as Harrelson, Banks, and Kravitz (surprisingly). Despite finding the story to be very silly, I found the film was shot very beautifully. I cannot speak to its authenticity but it did a good job depicting a dystopian world. Overall. this is a decent, big-world film but I just couldn’t get into it as I probably should because I did not like the story. I can, however, understand why people just ate this up.

Score: 7/10


The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

After arriving safely home from their unprecedented victory in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) discover that they must do a quick turnaround and begin a Victors Tour. As she and Peeta travel throughout the districts, Katniss senses a rebellion is stirring. However, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) proves that he is still very much in control when word comes of a cruel change in the rules for the upcoming 75th Hunger Games.

So I didn’t see any of the movies or read any of the books but I am still aware of the series and all of its three (and almost four) films so far. I think I must have been the only one who hasn’t yet. It’s human nature for things in the second film to not seem as climactic when you’ve previously known things about films past and future. This review will be based on this.

So this is the next one. Katniss and Peeta are now champions of the 74th Hunger Games and now they get to flaunt this around in a tour across all the other Districts. President Snow (Sutherland), however, is sensing a rebellion developing amongst the districts so he tasks them to try to ease the unrest or risk the death of each of their families. Once they fail, Snow devises a plan to put each of them back in the following year’s version of the Hunger Games by altering eligibility rules by making former champions of each District the only ones who can compete (this is how they keep Katniss and Peeta involved, I guess). The familiar cast of supporting characters are back for this one, President Snow, Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), Katniss’ mother (Paula Malcomson), Katniss’ sister (Willow Shields), Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), and Cinna (Lenny Kravitz). They are all joined by two new additions, Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) and Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman). I though the returning cast, as in the first film, were good here and the new additions were good as well, especially Claflin who had some good lines and some real scene presence. The stars, Lawrence and Hutcherson, were better here than the previous film because of more experience with the roles. I appreciated the fact that we got to spend more time with Katniss and Peeta during their own lives as the idea behind the whole “Hunger Games” thing just seemed and still seems silly to me. There was still a Hunger Games here but it was secondary to the District civil unrest storyline. The first film had some of this but this was expanded much more here. I was always much more interested in this storyline than the other. I also liked the suspenseful aspects revolving around this as found myself pleasantly entertained. Of course not all of my suspicions were answered (especially by the ending) but I didn’t mind because there are two more films left. The actual Hunger Games themselves were better than the previous film because it was more exciting as there was more action, more special effects in the this one’s landscape and the monsters which they had to face, and there was more camaraderie amongst the participants.  Overall, this is definitely an improvement over the previous film as it started to stray away from its original story and heads towards what is hopefully a satisfying conclusion.

Score: 8/10


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

Following her rescue from the devastating Quarter Quell, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) awakes in the complex beneath the supposedly destroyed District 13. Her home, District 12, has been reduced to rubble, and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) is now the brainwashed captive of President Snow (Donald Sutherland). At the same time, Katniss also learns about a secret rebellion spreading throughout all of Panem, a rebellion that will place her at the center of a plot to turn the tables on Snow.

So I didn’t see any of the movies or read any of the books but I am still aware of the series and all of its three (and almost four) films so far. I think I must have been the only one who hasn’t yet. It’s human nature for things in the second film to not seem as climactic when you’ve previously known things about films past and future. This review will be based on this.

So this is the last one before the next entry comes out. This one picks up right where the last film, Catching Fire, left off with Katniss (Lawrence) being saved from the last Hunger Games. She wakes up within the underground complex comprising the supposedly destroyed District 13. She soon learns of a rebellion developing amongst the other 11 districts. District 12, Katniss and Peeta’s (Hutcherson) home, was destroyed by President Snow (Sutherland) and the Capitol. This rebellion, led by President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) and Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), hopes to unite the people of the remaining districts against Snow and the Capitol. Seeing that Katniss has gained a following amongst the people of the Districts following her actions in the last few Hunger Games, Coin and Heavensbee aim to court her to be the face behind their rebellion. Initially skeptical of joining, she eventually decides to join. With interference from the Capitol and the brainwashed pleas to stop the war by Peeta who was kidnapped by the Capitol, Katniss must rally the people of Panem to their cause. So the film took a different direction from the previous two films in that it is less about the actual Hunger Games (which I’ve always found silly) and more about developing the backstory behind the world which I’ve enjoyed so far. I still don’t know how their world came to be but seeing it as it is now was interesting enough. I just wish I had seen more since I didn’t get a chance to see the results of their actions just yet which is why I hate it when they split stories into two films. Also because of that (I think), there wasn’t as much action as I would have liked but I think they might (I hope) make up for that in the next part. The one thing that has been consistent with the series so far has been the quality of the acting and it is no different here. I found that Lawrence and Hutcherson did the best with what they had which was primarily set up for the next film. I think Hutcherson was good but I did not agree with the use of his character in this film as I found that it did not add much. I also thought the returning supporting characters, Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), and Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) (just to name a few), were good as well. Some may not like the pace of the film since it is a little slower than previous films  and the purpose of the film serves as buildup for the next film but I mildly disagree as I thought it could have been better but I wasn’t completely disappointed. Overall, this is another decent entry in the series, albeit a buildup to the next film. I’ll just say that the next film better be great.

Score: 6.5/10


The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

Realizing the stakes are no longer just for survival, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) teams up with her closest friends, including Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Finnick Odair (Sam Claflin) for the ultimate mission. Together, they leave District 13 to liberate the citizens of war-torn Panem and assassinate President Snow, who’s obsessed with destroying Katniss. What lies ahead are mortal traps, dangerous enemies and moral choices that will ultimately determine the future of millions.

So I didn’t see any of the movies or read any of the books but I am still aware of the series and all of its three (and almost four) films so far. I think I must have been the only one who hasn’t yet. It’s human nature for things in the second film to not seem as climactic when you’ve previously known things about films past and future. This review will be based on this.

So this is the last film of the series and it picks up where the last film left off with Katniss (Lawrence) recovering from an attack by the brainwashed Peeta (Hutcherson). Katniss along with the leadership group from District 13 including President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) and Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), begin to mount an offensive against the Capitol and President Snow (Donald Sutherland). With most of the people of the other 12 Districts (I made a mistake in the previous review by saying District 12 was gone but actually some people survived) united with their cause, Katniss leads a unit with Peeta and Finnick (Claflin) (just to name a few) towards Snow and the Capitol facing various traps and enemy soldiers along the way.  What I didn’t like as much about the previous installment, Mockingjay Part 1, was that it just seemed like filler and a just a buildup to the events of this film. I had hoped that after watching that film that it would have been worth it and that the next film would have had much more action and it kind of was and it kind of did. There was more of a payoff in this installment and it had much more action. I think the first half of this film had more action than all of the previous film. I found the plot here to be a little better and the pacing was also better since there seemed to be more progression as they did not spend as much time in one place as the film took us from District 13, to a few other districts, to the Capitol. The acting in this film, along with all of the previous films so far, has been great as Lawrence and Hutcherson were good (perhaps not as good as previous films but still good) despite the fact that I still disagree with the use of Hutcherson in this one. Woody Harrelson’s Haymitch Abernathy in a larger role and to a lesser extent Elizabeth Banks’ Effie Trinket were okay as well. Like I’ve said before, I haven’t read the books and this may be because of it but I was not a fan of the ending. Overall, this film serves as a fitting end to the series despite not standing out above the previous three films.

Score: 7.5/10

Series Average: 7.25/10

If you liked this, please read my other reviews here and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, follow me on Instagram, and also like me on Facebook.

Advertisements