Buzzing on the Big Screen: The Hunger Games
With The Hunger Games series resurfacing and The Ballad of Songbirds and Snake's upcoming release, I was inspired to watch all of the movies again and rank them from favorite to least favorite.
- Catching Fire
- The Hunger Games
- Mockingjay Part 2
- Mockingjay Part 1
The Hunger Games (2012)
2 hours 22 minutes
Audience score: 81%
Emilee’s rating: 4.75/5
The first movie follows the 74th annual Hunger Games in the society known as Panem. There are 12 districts in Panem, however, there used to be 13. The first few districts are the richest and the last few are the poorest. During the Hunger Games, a male and female teenager is chosen randomly as a tribute or someone can volunteer. When 12 year old Prim is chosen as district 12 tribute, her older sister, Katniss, becomes the first district 12 volunteer in history. Katniss alongside the other tribute, Peeta, make their way through the Hunger Games with the help of their mentor, Haymitch, and their escort, Effie.
The first movie is a great introduction to the society. So much information is included about Panem and The Capitol. I think everything was executed in such a great way as well. But, what makes the series so great is the characters. They all serve a purpose to show the insane society of Panem. Katniss and Peeta's purposes are obvious, so I will focus on the side characters. Cato, a district 2 tribute, really made me mad, but it was his purpose to show that in the end, the games are rigged: He isn’t going to win if the Capitol doesn’t want him to. Effie is one of my favorite characters. Despite being a member of the Capitol, she was always kind, even from the beginning. She represents that despite falling for the luxury of the Capitol, seeing the games first-hand is so traumatizing that your views will likely change. Haymitch made me so sad. I can’t imagine being the only mentor for district 12, knowing all of them are going straight to their deaths. His drinking issues and depression portray that even the winners don't get to be free. Don’t even get me started on Katniss’ friend, Gale. He is my least favorite character and I feel he is so unnecessary. He truly serves no purpose other than to be a nuisance. I did say all of the characters serve a purpose, but not Gale. Although, I heard he does have a purpose in the books so maybe the movies just didn’t do him justice. I don't have many strong feelings about Rue, a district 11 tribute, other than feeling bad for her. She was only 12 and it’s crazy to me that they allow people that young to be in the games. Her purpose was also very explicit: Her death was meant to spark Katniss’ anger toward the Capitol. I feel that President Snow had such a small role in the first movie. Obviously, he was the villain, but this is definitely the movie he has the least significant role in. The game host, Caesar, was honestly comedic relief for me because he is so unbelievably ignorant. I think he tried his best to make the tributes likable, though. But honestly, it is a little funny how positive he is.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
2 hours 26 minutes
Audience score: 89%
Emilee’s rating: 5/5
In Catching Fire, President Snow announces the 75th Hunger Games. Every 25 years, there is something called the Quarter Quell. This is a time when the Hunger Games will be different from the traditional Hunger Games. For this third Quarter Quell, President Snow decides that the tributes for the games will be past winners of the games. Being the only District 12 female winner, Katniss is automatically chosen as tribute for district 12, alongside Peeta as volunteer to protect Katniss. This Quarter Quell starts an uprising against Panem among the winning tributes and spreads to the citizens of Panem.
The second movie really dives into how Panem functions: It shows how the games work to keep the districts in line by fighting with each other. Snow choosing to go as far as making the winning tributes go through the trauma of another game portrays just how far he is willing to go. But, I loved to see that it backfired on him and almost all of the tributes united with each other. It’s also so interesting to get some insight on different winners of the games and hear their stories. Although, that is another thing that the books did better. I heard there is far more information about the stories of the winners.
I think President Snow’s role is more solidified in this movie. Seeing him watch the games so casually while in his office and eating dinner is what truly shows how normal the games seem to him. I also thought it was funny how annoyed he got that his granddaughter and young girls of the Capitol were being influenced by Katniss through fashion and mannerisms.
It’s also heartbreaking to see the tour the winner goes on after the games. The fact that they put the families of the dead tributes on a stand while the winner speaks about them is absolutely vile. I can only imagine how that went down with the arrogant career winners in the past. It also portrays very well how even the winners don’t get to be free from the Capitol after winning: They are still punished to keep them in line.
The second movie introduces some of my favorite characters which is probably why it’s my favorite. I love Finnick, a district 4 winner. He is my absolute favorite character and his story crushes me. The fact that he was only 14 when he won, making him the youngest winner ever, is so sad. I also love how caring he is, especially for Mags and Annie. I have mixed feelings about Johanna, a district 7 winner. She is a bit annoying but I love her attitude toward the capitol. She eventually became one of my favorites. Putting Mags, an elderly district 4 winner, in the series displays that the Capitol does not care who they hurt. They are willing to put an old woman who has no chance of winning in the Hunger Games. They even announce that all winners will be considered regardless of any disabilities.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 (2014)
2 hours 3 minutes
Audience score: 71%
Emilee’s rating: 2.5/5
After destroying the 3rd Quarter Quell, Mockingjay Part 1 follows Katniss after being rescued by the hidden district 13. President Coin of district 13 wants to use Katniss as "the Mockingjay" to encourage people to join the rebellion.
This is my least favorite of the movies for a few reasons. For one, it’s the most boring. I couldn't even come up with a long description because literally nothing interesting happens until the end. There’s very little action scenes compared to the rest of the movies, which is a big aspect of them in my opinion. It's also lacking some of the best characters. They didn’t include Johanna at all and Peeta was barely in it. We got to see President Snow’s point of view, so why couldn't we see what they were doing to Peeta, Annie, and Johanna? I feel like that would have made it more interesting. From what I heard many of the book scenes were skipped as well. Apparently, Katniss was very mentally unstable when she first arrived at district 13 and this was glossed over. I definitely still think they’re including Gale for no reason. He literally serves no purpose, still. He got mad at Katniss because she doesn’t show him enough attention which makes no sense to me. She lost so much and all Gale cares about is how much attention she is giving him. They introduced my least favorite character in this movie, too. President Coin evoked so much hatred in me from the start. She’s so entitled and bossy. I don’t care if that’s her job, it makes me feel like she's not so different from President Snow. It just gets worse in the second part.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 (2015)
2 hours 17 minutes
Audience score: 66%
Emilee’s rating: 3.5/5
Mockingjay Part 2 continues where Part 1 left off: With Peeta's return to Katniss. However, Peeta has become a weapon of the Capitol used to destroy Katniss. Due to this and the many other traumatic things she has been put through, Katniss is finally determined assassinate President Snow. President Snow sees this as an opportunity to treat Katniss and her team to invade his mansion as if it is the 76th Hunger Games.
Through this entire movie all I could think about was how many crazy things President Coin is doing. First, she puts Katniss in danger on purpose because she wants to make sure she has no competition during the election. Then, she just throws an extremely unstable Peeta into battle because she wants to ensure that people will still rebel and make her president. When everyone thinks Katniss is dead, she makes a speech that annoys me so much. She tells everyone how destroyed she is over Katniss' death but only because she can use her death to her advantage. Finally, when she succeeds in taking over Panem by killing Prim in front of Katniss (but of course lies saying it was President Snow), she decides she should be "interim" president. Even worse, she proposes a final Hunger Games with the Capitol children. Im sorry, what? Is that not exactly what you were trying to get away from? Clearly, she is no different that President Snow. Luckily, Katniss comes to the rescue. In what was supposed to be President Snow's execution, Katniss shoots her arrow right into President Coin's heart. The crowd goes crazy and they all run to President Snow and beat him to death.
I would also like to add that Gale barely seemed to care that Prim died. Wasn't his whole point to protect Katniss' family? Once again, this adds to my question of why he is even in the movies in the first place.
What absolutely broke me about this movie was Finnick's death. Everyone says he had to die to show the tragedies of war. I disagree, but not for any valid reason other than Finnick is a loved character who shouldn't have died before he could have his honeymoon with Annie.
Now, I consider this movie to have a pretty good ending. Most dystopian movies end with the villain being defeated but with no portrayal of the aftermath. The Hunger Games, however, gives us the details. Most importantly, Peeta and Katniss spend their life together with their two kids. Annie had gotten pregnant before Finnick died and had a son. Also, some random lady from district 8 becomes President (which they could've given us more information about). They gave us more than most movies would but I would have loved to see what happened to Haymitch and Effie. Also, what happened to my man Caesar? Regardless, though, I do think the ending gave us a lot and the last scene of Katniss with her baby, comparing the game of soothing her nightmares to the Hunger Games, was the perfect ending.