What was the mass appeal that took Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games series from best-selling book to top box office movie? For me, it was the creative masterpiece
of the annual Hunger Games competition. It was the shocking idea of a reality
television show to the death. It was a look into the terrifying world of Panem, a world so unlike our own. And it was, of course, Katniss Everdeen’s
(Jennifer Lawrence) unflinching courage, spirit and fierce loyalty against all
The Hunger Games and its sequel, Catching Fire, held my keen attention as I watched Katniss meet every challenge the
games threw at her and fight Panem’s evil ruler, President Snow (Donald
Sutherland), at the same time. But as the newly released Mockingjay-Part 1 crept slowly along, it soon became apparent that the film lacked not
only the actual Hunger Games, but the intrigue and spirit of its predecessors.
I had hoped that the film, the first half of the trilogy’s last book, would follow in the previous movies’ footsteps with action-packed scenes,
tenacious characters and earnest relationships. And it seemed set up to
do just that as the plot moved closer and closer to an attack against the
ruthless Capital and Snow. What I forgot to
account for was the fact that the movie had been unnecessarily split into two
parts: a ploy done solely to double profits, in my opinion.
The film took place in the underground District 13, a
military district that the capital had unsuccessfully dissolved years ago when
they had risen up against their oppression. District 13 now survives in a
somewhat communistic fashion, with everyone dressing the same and working toward the common goal of overthrowing President Snow. They had hovercrafts, extreme
weapons and high-tech technology that allowed them to project messages into
the districts for years. They were ready for war, but lacked a
motivator, a face for their revolution, until the feisty Katniss Everdeen started
shaking things up.
So both District 13 and I were severely disappointed when
a sad and broken Katniss Evergeen arrived fresh from her second Hunger Games
tournament. Forsaking most of her bold fight against the Capital, Katniss seemed
to have turned her focus solely on saving her captured, newfound love, Peeta
Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). She argued with the leaders of District 13, moped in
her room and worried about Peeta for the entire first act of the movie.
Although putting his safety above all else appeared admirable, it felt unrealistic
in the context of a world revolution. So though Jennifer Lawrence acted as
fantastically as always, her character’s intrigue suffered at the start
of the film.
As the film slowly edged toward revolution, Katniss agreed
to film propaganda videos urging people to fight against the ironically named
Peacekeepers who carried out the Capital’s orders. In these videos, the old Katniss
finally came through looking courageous as ever, revealing the devastation
of President Snow’s work to all of Panem. She sang, she shot arrows, and she motivated
others. Finally my attention had been grasped as districts began responding to
the messages and gaining small triumphs in their riots.
However, the action did not continue for long. Soon we were
back to Katniss sulking in her room in District 13 with her extremely dull
family (this may be a bit harsh, but I find Katniss’ mother and sister to
cause nothing but problems). At this point I began to feel the negative effects
of splitting the film into two parts.
Though it may be argued that the purpose of this film was to
draw more on the intellectual idea of propaganda, I found that after the
initial idea was laid out, it did not hold much complexity. Having read Mockingjay, I am confident that the entirety of its plot, including
the uprisings and long awaited battle, could have been compressed into one
film. So without the dramatic conclusion, Part
1 built to virtually nothing.
I could have endured and even understood Katniss’s downer
attitude throughout the movie if she had triumphed in a battle for her people
at the end. But anyone hoping for such success would have to wait a year for The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 2 to come out. So if I
were you, I would wait for Part 2 as well. Google a summary of Part 1 (it can’t
be more than a couple paragraphs with the lack of intrigue it held) and spend
money on the real action next November.
But don’t believe me, just watch!
Sawyer Henshaw SC ’17 is a media studies major. Believe it or not, the film columnist wasn’t allowed to watch R-rated movies until she was 17 years old.