Welcome, friends! There’s some exciting goings-on in the nerdiverse — Mockingjay: Part II is out today!
The saga of the Hunger Games adaptations has been an exciting and, for the most part, satisfying one. As I said in my post on books and their film adaptations, I’m all for watching the movie before the book when the situation calls for it, but in this case, I’m glad I didn’t. In my (totally biased) opinion, the Hunger Games movies have thus far been some of the best adaptations I’ve seen of anything, period. Reading the books first let me appreciate that in a way I couldn’t have if the situation had been reversed.
When the first movie came out, we were all cautiously optimistic about it. After all, who hasn’t been burned by bad movie adaptations that turn great stories into laughable, slapdash travesties? But this time, the hopes we hardly dared to hope were realized. Yes, a lot of the details were spot on and gave the movie the right feel, but the important thing was that The Hunger Games captured the spirit of the original story, and conveyed its message powerfully without cheapening it. What could have been a film that wallowed in the spectacle of it all (thereby missing the point entirely and basically turning us all into Capitol citizens staring wide-eyed at the shiny, shiny fight scenes) was a film that was not only well-made in a cinematic sense, but that made us think deeply about the way the world is, and the direction it could be headed if we don’t sit up and pay attention.
The second film was much the same — there were a few more plot deviations and liberties taken than in the first film, but it held up well, and didn’t fall prey to the second-movie-slump syndrome that other movie series have. It treated the characters with the same dignity that the first movie did, brought in new characters that were every bit as compelling (and snarky) as we could have hoped, and communicated the underlying message in a way that was, if anything, stronger than ever.
As for Mockingjay: Part I, well…I have a confession to make, guys. I haven’t actually seen it yet. But aside from bad timing (and admittedly, some procrastination, because, I’m sorry, were YOU excited to see Hijacked!Peeta? I didn’t think so), there’s a good reason for my tardiness.
As I’m sure is the case for many of you, I’m decidedly not in favor of the two-movie split for Mockingjay. To me, this is a step down for the series as a whole, and tempers my admiration of it a bit. It’s a setup that’s not only completely unnecessary (there’s no more material in Mockingjay than there is in the other two books, after all), but one that also feels uncomfortably like the filmmakers are capitalizing on the spectacle inherent in the stories, which is exactly what the books warn us against. I have a hard time seeing the scheme as anything more than a cash grab.
Obviously, I’m not supercilious enough to let this keep me from seeing either of the movies, and I’m every bit as excited to watch them as you’d expect. But seeing them closer together feels a bit more like seeing them on my own terms. And seeing them in one big chunk, like they were intended to be, dang it!
I’m not sure when I’ll get a chance to see the Mockingjay films, but I know it will be soon. And when I do, I hope I’ll find that their overall quality is enough to surmount the dubious real-world shenanigans surrounding them. When all’s said and done, I have faith that we’ll end up with four films that stand as admirable examples of how wise, timely, and insightful stories likeThe Hunger Games can be — stories that show us what’s real, and what never should be.
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