I first learned about ““The Hunger Games”” three weeks before the first film. It was all anyone could talk about. Everyone was obsessed, so obviously being the wonderful human I was in 8th grade, I hated it. However, I eventually gave in however and read the books, and loved them. They were deep, thoughtful, sad, and kind of messed up. Unlike any other teen book at the time. Even “Twilight” was happier and well, that was gray and depressing as hell.
I read all three books the three days before the movie. I fell in love and went to the midnight premiere and loved it too. Seeing a wonderful book get a pretty great adaptation is amazing. When the second novel, “Catching Fire,” got an AMAZING adaptation, it gave me hope that the final book could also get a good adaptation. The first part of “Mockingjay” was slow and character driven, but most of the story is in the second part, so I held out hope that it would be great.
The third book is very unlike the first two. “Mockingjay” chronicles the war in Panem and Katniss’ role in it. It’s not very fast-paced, but full of death and violence. It’s mostly inside of Katniss’ head and rather depressing. Understandably, this can be a challenge to adapt, but not impossible.
However, the film was a rather sub-par adaptation and could’ve been a lot more.
The final installment follows Katniss and the district 13 rebels directly after they rescue Katniss’ fellow tributes from “Catching Fire.” The film is basically Katniss being typically angry and wanting to do more in the war and Julianne Moore’s President Coin not letting her do anything.
“The Hunger Games” series at their core weren’t a love story, but rather a war story. It grew mass appeal because of the love triangle, but ultimately the story had nothing to do with love. Sadly, the films focused on the love aspects. What made the books amazing was its accurate portrayal of war, sad, harsh, and indiscriminate.
The first two books set up the players. The books introduced you to Katniss’ family, her friends and lovers, as well as numerous tributes and capital citizens. They made you fall in love with sweet and amazing characters, only for most of them to go through horrible situations, die, or sometimes both.
While the characters going through these tough circumstances is necessary for the story and helps cement it as a great story of war, it doesn’t make for the most enjoyable and happy film. Except the film treats these already badly treated characters even worse. None of the supporting characters truly got their moment to shine. Some were completely erased from the film itself.
Even Katniss doesn’t really get her moment. Jennifer Lawrence seems apathetic and really doesn’t look she wants to be there. While Katniss is normally depressed, her onscreen persona seems bored and tired, and never really has a shining or revelatory moment.
The film could’ve done a lot. But through a lack of character development and no realistic reactions it deprived the audience of what its source material did very well, fulfill its magnificent source material. The source material is dark and brutal; understandably, these teen oriented films couldn’t go where they could’ve gone if they were faithfully adapted.
However, instead of a war story, they turned it into a love story. If the novels would’ve been turned into R-rated films, it could’ve gone down as the one of the greatest adaptations in cinematic history, but it wasn’t.
Instead it was adapted into a love story that wasn’t nearly as interesting as the war aspects of it. The films were relatively sub-par, but since they can’t change, I’ll chose to reread the novels and wait for the inevitable reboot.