Directed by: Francis Lawrence
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth
Considering the movie’s been out for almost a month now, i’m a little late to the game in this review, but I have some strong feelings having just come out of the latest Hunger Games movie.
I thought the first movie was kinda lame, it failed to impress me as a film or an adaptation due to a lot of poor directing decisions, but somehow they really turned it around for the second movie and made it really entertaining and gripping, and it hooked me into the story extremely well, despite having a weaker source material.
I never read Mockingjay, so I can’t comment on it as an adaptation too much, but the film suffered hugely due to its being split into two parts. From the beginning its clear that the film was adding parts that never appeared in the book to bulk the runtime, as they had to turn half a movie into a 2 hour experience, which would be fine if the scenes were any good, but they fail to add depth to the characters or provide us with anything really entertaining to watch: it’s all just filler.
Further, the film’s already painstakingly slow pace was not helped by the additional padding by adding extra seconds to every single shot that really doesn’t deserve much attention (e.g. an establishing shot of district 12 as a plane flies over it). This padding isn’t just a nuisance, but it actually ruins scenes that could have been highly effective in the filmmakers’ attempts to get a response from the audience. The scene I have in mind is the one on the staircase approaching the end of the movie (no spoilers). The scene was excellently shot to be highly intensive and suspenseful with the lighting and camerawork. This suspense, however, begins to dissipate after the two minute mark. The scene could have easily lasted 30 seconds and been a tight, intensive, memorable moment, but instead it became more filler.
I don’t want to pretend that the film was awful, or even bad, because it did have some genuinely great moments, and did manage to get me to care for the dilemmas taking place and root for the protagonists. The scene where the rebels attack the dam was fantastic: the soundtrack was effective, the cinematography was beautiful and the action was really entertaining. In scenes like this I saw glimpses of the tightly written and directed action that I loved so much in the second film, and I feel like the whole movie could have been like this, but they just had to turn one book into two movies and as a result ruin both parts as a result. I’ve made my distaste of the abundance of adaptations and sequels clear before, but they honestly can be done well, and that is what’s most important: quality. The money grabbing whore aspect of the producers perspective of this franchise (taking the profits of four films instead of three) has completely ruined the film’s potential to be great, which it really could have been, which makes me sad.