Tag Archives: The Hunger Games (series)

Feature Presentation: Mockingjay, Part I

mockingjay-1-posterThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part I starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Willow Shields, Paula Malcomson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Sam Clafin, Jena Malone, Stanley Tucci, Julianne Moore, and Donald Sutherland

Lionsgate, 2014. Rated PG-13

Synopsis: The country is in chaos after the 75th Hunger Games. District 12 has been destroyed. The other districts have drawn battle lines, some siding with the Capital and others with the rebels of District 13, thought to have been wiped off the map. Katniss is trying to keep herself together after learning that Peeta has been captured and used by President Snow to try and draw her out. With the world falling apart around her and inside her, Katniss must find the energy to become the Mockingjay, a symbol of hope for those who fight.

I’ll spare the reader my rant about how Mockingjay didn’t need to be two movies but because of consumerism blah blah blah. That aside, this second-to-last installment in The Hunger Games trilogy had a lot going for it, but I think largely because of the decision to split the film into two parts the story lost a lot of its power (so to speak). Yes, this gave the filmmakers a little more license to show the viewer some corners of the districts we don’t get to see in the books and there’s a more extended scene involving a rescue toward the end of the film that’s exciting. Yet, I left the theater thinking about just how much fluff was inserted just for the sake of squeezing as much money out of this thing as possible. There’s books, you know, it’s not like we don’t know what happens. There’s not a whole lot you can hold back from us at this point. Lawrence is still making us believe in Katniss, but unfortunately because Katniss’s character has become so flat, we almost-kinda-sorta don’t care much about her anymore. She’s lost most of her drive with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) largely out of the picture and Gale (the always gorgeous Liam Hemsworth) doesn’t seem to be helping when he tries to console her. The viewer is almost frustrated watching the movie (or at least, I was) because we want to reach through the screen and shake Katniss until she snaps out of it even though we know that she won’t without Peeta. If that’s not some element of foreshadowing, I don’t know what is. The most redeeming scene in the film is the one in which Katniss sings ‘The Hanging Tree’, which in the following scenes becomes an anthem for the rebels still struggling under control of the Capital. The song is depressing, but it’s moving to see Lawrence singing in a rare moment of peace between battles. I’m hoping Part II has a little more of the substance we were missing from Part I.

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Mockingjay Review

MockingjayMockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins

Scholastic Press, 2010. 978-0439023511

Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Katniss Everdeen is only sure of a few things these days: her name her age, her participation in the Hunger Games, that District 12 is gone, and that President Snow has Peeta. But there is a way to save him: become the Mockingjay, the symbol that the rebels will follow in their continued fight against the Capitol, and continue to participate in a game that she doesn’t know how to win. Can she survive the inner battle with herself in order to survive the rebellion and rescue Peeta?

Why I picked it up: That cliffhanger at the end of Catching Fire was just mean, and I felt like I needed to see that Katniss was going to recover after everything that has been happening to her.

Why I finished it: Very few books have made me openly weep like this one did. I think I spent most of the book in tears because it is a very emotional story, and these characters that we have been gunning for since day one have suddenly had their lives thrown into a chaos that few of us will ever know. Katniss is literally losing her mind because of the trauma and the drugs she is on while in the hospital, where she spends about 30% of the book. Gale is trying to support her the best that he can and her sister is making an attempt to understand the new reality of their lives, but the effects of losing Peeta and watching him deteriorate on live television proves to be just enough to keep her motivated to cooperate as the Mockingjay. But the reader also knows that Katniss is going to be faced with another decision: does she go with Gale or stay with Peeta? She knows that both men have their merits and both have been good friends to her, despite her stubbornness, but something like love has never been at the forefront of her mind. Not to mention that she needs to reconcile her feelings about the lives that have been lost over the last two books and (for lack of a better term) her survivor’s guilt. Collins has told Katniss’s story with a sort of innocence amidst the brutality of the new world order. We like Katniss because she’s at her very core she is a fighter, not necessarily with her fists or her words, but in the actions she takes to protect those she cares about. She fought to survive after her father died, she fought to survive her first Hunger Games, she fought to make it out of the arena in the Quarter Quell, and now she faces a battle with Snow and with herself. We do not often see children go to war, but Collins’ work shows us a brutal reality in which all men and women are soldiers, gives us a glimpse of the true horrors or war, and makes us understand that the fighting does not stop when a soldier returns home. While I am sad to see the characters end their story, I am satisfied with how the series is concluded. And if you are prone to crying through books as I am, read it with a box of tissues.

On a side note, Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier is a very well crafted memoir about child soldiers in Africa that sheds some light on some of the same subject matter I found to be quite powerful and that I highly recommend.

Other related materials: The Hunger Games (Book 1) by Suzanne Collins; The Hunger Games (movie); Catching Fire (The Second Book of The Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins; The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (movie)The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (movie); The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau; Independent Study (Book 2 of The Testing Series) by Joelle Charbonneau; Graduation Day (Book 3  of The Testing Series) by Joelle Charbonneau; The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins; The Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth; The Books of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau; Shadow Children books by Margaret Peterson Haddix; The Giver by Lois Lowry; Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry; Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card; Tunnels series by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams; Maze Runner books by James Dashner

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Feature Presentation: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

catching_fireThe Hunger Games: Catching Fire starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Lenny Kravitz, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Amanda Plumber, Sam Clafin, Jena Malone, Stanley Tucci, and Donald Sutherland

Lionsgate, 2013. Rated PG-13

Synopsis: Katniss Everdeen has managed to survive the Hunger Games, but her fight is just beginning. It seems that her actions in the arena have incited rebellion within the districts, a rebellion the President Snow wants crushed. But when it is announced that for the next Hunger Games, the tributes will be reaped from the existing pool of victors, Katniss finds herself in yet another fight for her life. Desperate to keep herself and Peeta alive, Katniss begins to formulate a plan that she hopes will help them survive against the odds that appear to be ever-growing against them.

The second installment in the book-to-film trilogy is an improvement on the first, most notably in regards to the camera work. Francis Lawrence, the film’s director, made the wise decision to use steadicam shots rather than the handheld work of The Hunger Games, which for me made it a much more enjoyable viewing experience. I COULD ACTUALLY FOCUS ON STUFF BEFORE THE CAMERA MOVED AWAY. IT WAS AMAZING. The stakes have been raised with the announcement that past winners will be facing off against each other, creating even more anger and unrest within Panem as the nation is forced to say goodbye to people with whom they have created a ‘personal’ connection. It gives us a sense of the impending chaos about to erupt if the peace cannot be kept. While the viewer doesn’t have much of a connection with the ‘new’ tributes, we are endeared to them: Finnick (Sam Clafin), who deals in secrets; Johanna (Jena Malone, who has finally been cast in a role that doesn’t make her look like she’s twelve), who just wants to be left alone; Beetee (Jeffrey Wright), whose inventions have revitalized Panem; Mags (Lynn Cohen), who volunteered herself as tribute for Annie. Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson still have the same electric chemistry that made us cheer for them in The Hunger Games, the same energy that is driving their characters to survive and look out for each other, even if Katniss still isn’t sure how she feels about Peeta. The scope of the film is much grander this time around as well: the parties on the victory tour are grand, the arena is much more dangerous, and the costumes are more intricate. The viewer is also seeing a little more of District 12 and Panem itself, giving us a taste of the unique cultures and peoples in each district. It’s a film that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat and gives them feels. So many feels.

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Catching Fire Review

catching_fireCatching Fire (The Second Book of The Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins

Scholastic Press, 2013. 978-0545586177

Synopsis: Now that Katniss and Peeta have been crowned the Victors of the Hunger Games, their lives have become even more complicated than they have imagined. While they and their families are now safe and are well-provided for, there is unrest in the Capitol over their victory. Whispers of rebellion have reached the ears of President Snow and Katniss and Peeta are the catalysts. Can they maintain their lovebirds facade and quash a rebellion or will the Capitol have their revenge?

Why I picked it up: I wanted to make sure I read it before I saw the movie. Plus, I finally got around to reading The Hunger Games and was eager to know what happens next.

Why I finished it: Other than NEEDING TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS, wondering if we were going to see more of President Snow, and trying to pick between Team Peeta and Team Gale, Collins has significantly upped the stakes for our Girl on Fire. Not only does she have to worry about a Victory Tour, but she becomes the contestant in yet another Hunger Games in which the contestants are past winners. And much to my distraught, we are given more characters to potentially come to care about before they fall victim to any of the tricks and traps in the arena. We are also seeing Katniss begin to fray a little bit more after coming home from the games – much like a soldier coming home from a war, the images of horror aren’t going to leave her, and the one person that she could reach out to is also the one person she doesn’t want to ask for help. She’s also painfully aware of the fact that both Peeta and Gale care deeply about her, but she can’t with good conscience seem to return their affections in a way that is real. The plot is fast-paced and well conceived, creating a sense of urgency and hope as the reader watches Katniss struggle both privately and publicly to stay alive. Collins has improved on the original, and I am eager to see how the story will end.

Other related materials: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (movie); The Hunger Games (Book 1) by Suzanne Collins; The Hunger Games (movie); Mockingjay (The Third Book of The Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins; The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau; Independent Study (Book 2 of The Testing Series) by Joelle Charbonneau; The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins; The Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth; The Books of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau; Shadow Children books by Margaret Peterson Haddix; The Giver by Lois Lowry; Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card; Tunnels series by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams; Maze Runner books by James Dashner

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Feature Presentation: The Hunger Games

the-hunger-games-movie-poster-475x705The Hunger Games starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Lenny Kravitz, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Wes Bentley, Stanley Tucci, and Donald Sutherland

Lionsgate, 2012. Rated PG-13

Synopsis: In the nation of Panem, built on the remains of North America, a shining Capitol keeps the twelve outlying districts in line by asking them to annually offer up one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to be competitors in a pageant known as The Hunger Games. During the Reaping Ceremony during which the competitors (tributes) are chosen at random, Katniss Everdeen volunteers herself to take her sister’s place. She knows that competition in the Hunger Games means certain death for all but the lone victor, but she is determined to win against all odds so that she can return safely home.

Okay, so, I confess: I watched the movie before I read the book and I feel somewhat ashamed about that because I have usually read the book before I see the movie. This gives me a better sense of the story and warrants me a chance to compare the page-to-screen adaptation. And while it took me about three years before I finally got around to reading the book, I can say with satisfaction that the film adaptation maintains the integrity of the best-selling novel. I think it also helped (for me anyway) that Suzanne Collins has a screenplay credit. It’s a little hard to film a movie in first-person, so the screen writers opted for a more omniscient take, cutting between Katniss and the larger whole of Panem in order to better relay certain information to the viewer. I understand why the filmmakers told the story on film the way that they did, but I also found myself seeing a lot more of the behind the scenes workings than I had in the book, namely, the game commentary and the scenes where we see inside the Gamemaking Room. Also, after a while the handheld shots were driving me crazy because I JUST WANTED THE CAMERA TO FOCUS ON SOMETHING and it left me feeling like I was on a Merry-Go-Round rather than watching a movie. I liked Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson in their respective roles as Katniss and Peeta, and the two actors play their characters with a little more of an edge than their book counterparts. I almost wanted Katniss to be a little more serious and Peeta to be a little less stiff, but the performances are definitely genuine and the viewer is really rooting for them to survive.  I also loved Lenny Kravitz as Cinna – he was pretty much everything I imagined the character to be when I was reading the book – and Donald Sutherland as President Snow – ominous, mysterious, and the very picture of a silent puppetmaster. An excellent film that stays true to the original, fans of the books will be left wanting more and waiting for the next ‘chapter’ to begin.

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Guest Review: The Hunger Games

the-hunger-gamesThe Hunger Games (Book 1) by Suzanne Collins

Scholastic Press, 2010. 978-0439023528

Reviewed by: Emily S.

Synopsis: The nation of Panem, a supposed post-apocalyptic North America, has a wealthy region known as “The Capitol” surrounded by 12 other poorer regions known as districts. Earlier in Panem history there was a rebellion against the Capitol lead by the now extinct 13th district. The rebellion brought on the televised event known as “The Hunger Games”. As punishment, each district must offer up one boy and one girl, between the ages of 12-18 through a lottery type system to participate in the games, called the ‘Reaping’. During the Reaping, Katniss’s younger sister Primrose is chosen as a tribute. Katniss refuses to let her sister participate in the games so she volunteers herself to take her sister’s place.

Why I wanted to read it: I wanted to read the book for two reasons: the movie was coming out soon; seeing the trailer made me interested.

Why I finished it: I finished the book because I became attached to the characters. The book is in first-person, so you don’t get to know much about the other characters other than Katniss, but I really liked her. She is strong and she really cares about her family and her sister. She wants to protect her family so much and she is so family-oriented that she volunteers herself to take her sister’s place in the games. Plus, I could never put the book down. I really liked the story and the writing was really good and it made me want to read more to find out what happens.

Other related materials: The Hunger Games (movie); Catching Fire (The Second Book of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins; Mockingjay (The Third Book of The Hunger Games) by Suzanne Collins; The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau; Independent Study (Book 2 of The Testing Series) by Joelle Charbonneau; The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins; The Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth; The Books of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau; Shadow Children books by Margaret Peterson Haddix; The Giver by Lois Lowry; Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card; Tunnels series by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams; Maze Runner books by James Dashner

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