I didn’t watch The Hungers Games as they came out, the books meant a lot to me, and I just couldn’t see the films doing them justice. When I was in my final year of school, in the middle of exams, the librarian at my school recommended me The Hunger Games. I borrowed the first one and started reading it one night, when I should have been trying to sleep. I ended up sitting up until quite late in the night reading by my bed-side lamp and read the book in one sitting. I did the same with books 2 and 3 over the next few days. I loved them so much and the films just didn’t interest me. Last year when the prequel book was released, I had that ordered and started reading it as soon as it came out. I enjoyed it a lot, but it took me quite a while to figure out that I was reading President Snow’s origin story. It was then that I realised it had been about a decade since I read the original trilogy and didn’t remember that much about them. That’s why I’m now visiting the films, enough time has passed that I won’t be comparing them to the books all the way through.
For those that are new, Franchise Catch Up is where I take a series of films (of at least 3 or more) and binge watch them, writing a initial thoughts for each one shortly after watching it. If you haven’t seen The Hunger Games series and are curious, or you love the franchise and want to see what a newbie thinks, I hope you enjoy.
The Hunger Games – ★★★★
I’m glad I waited to see this film. I really enjoyed it, but I’m sure I wouldn’t have when it first came out, because of how much I loved the books. Instead, I’ve been able to enjoy this in a fresh way with the books a distant memory. I still remembered the basic plot points, the beginning, the end, and snippets all the way through, but it still felt newish to me. I also really enjoyed it. The darkness of the books is still there and even though it’s clearly a teen film, it doesn’t shy away from the more brutal moments of the story. Jennifer Lawrence is excellent as Katniss. The reaping scene at the beginning is harrowing. The action is entertaining, and the film keeps a nice pace throughout. It’s quite long but doesn’t feel it. I’m glad I’ve finally watched this, and I hope the sequels live up to it.
Catching Fire – ★★★★
While I remembered a fair bit about the first one, I barely remember anything about this one, other than the ending and the games involved previous victors. This one is really great. The action isn’t as brutal and it feels that the games are shorter in this one, but it’s still entertaining. I do question how they expect to show them all turning on each other if they are killing them so quickly with the environment. Donald Sutherland is great. I haven’t seen many films with him in, but he’s quickly becoming one of my favourite actors. Looking forward to the last two now.
Mockingjay: Part One and Two – ★★★½
I watched these two back-to-back so am writing about them at the same time. This really should have been 1 film, the book is dragged out way too much for 2, 2-hour films. It could have been a great 2 and a half/3-hour film and instead it’s really badly paced and is a poor send-off to the series. There are so many characters that are just pushed to the side-lines in these two. It’s over 4 hours in total. Why not a little time with some of the side characters? Jennifer Lawrence is great, as she has been throughout the series. Donald Sutherland is excellent. When the film works, it really works and if it was trimmed down then it would be a great final part of an excellent trilogy. In the end it’s still a good film and it gives everything a nice conclusion but watching them back to back was a struggle.
So now that I’ve watched The Hunger Games, I’m glad I have. I really enjoyed them. Now that I’ve seen them all, I am sure that I wouldn’t have liked them when they first came out, purely because the books were so fresh. I think the first one is the best, and 3 & 4 are the worst (purely down to pacing issues). They are still entertaining. It’s a shame Mockingjay was split up, because it’s clear that was purely down to doubling the box office. The final films for Harry Potter and Twilight were both split up, but it works with them because the books were so long. It didn’t work here. There is anew film on the way, adapting the prequel book and I have high hopes for that one.
Thanks for reading and until next time,