Odds are not in Hunger Games fans’ favor

By Collen Day

What is most interesting about the latest installment of Lionsgate’s film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ bestselling trilogy, “The Hunger Games,” is how completely different it is from the rest of the franchise. And, unfortunately, when “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 1,” was released Nov. 21, the difference was clear.

It is fair to say film adaptations rarely satisfy their book-enthusiast fan bases. There is always something left out, a character misplaced or misrepresented, and a chapter or sequence of events that producers felt made more sense in a different order to appease the audience. Until now, Lionsgate has done a phenomenal job of staying true to Collins’ writing, and more or less capturing our imaginations and translating them on-screen.

However, the studio’s decision to make two films out of Collins’ final book might have made sense business-wise, but this move it is likely to leave the audience disappointed and dissatisfied.  The final book is Collins’ farewell to her characters and her storyline, which has arguably been the most successful franchise since the Harry Potter series and Twilight saga film adaptations.

Courtesy of The Hunger Games Facebook page

So, it is no coincidence Lionsgate would follow a similar path of “The Hunger Games” highly profitable predecessors. Nevertheless, from a viewer and reader standpoint I felt jipped and as if a story I thoroughly enjoyed was being violated by greedy producers.

Hoisted out of the games by an anti-government task force, the penultimate installment opens with Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence, struggling to ground herself to reality in her new home of District 13. As the movie progresses, the audience watches as Katniss is clothed in combat-chic black and put on camera to film war propaganda shots in efforts to rally the increasingly downtrodden population of Panem.

Through a series of shots depicting the disheveled Capital led by President Snow, played by Donald Sutherland, and the subsequent efforts of the rebels to continue a political uprising, the movie is chock full of violence, media propaganda, war, socialism, tyranny and women’s roles.

My biggest criticism of the film is its tendency to overemphasize seemingly minute details in the grand scheme of the series. When the book presented particularly interesting chapters, it seemed as if producers exploited those moments to fill the clock. Since the climax of the plot will take place in “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 2,” it was clear that the movie conveyed exactly what Lionsgate intended it to be: a placeholder before the grand finale.

Amidst the seemingly never- ending drone of overemphasized moments, the movie did include something that Collins completely omitted in the book that paid off. While this is notoriously a dangerous move, the inclusion and detailed display of the rebel’s mission to rescue victors, Peeta Mellark and Johanna Mason, is one of the highlights of the film.

I believe the expansion of a scene we didn’t read in the book was likely the producer’s best move yet.

With the second installment set to be released at the end of 2015, the biggest question that remains is what will happen to Plutarch Heavensbee played by the late Philip Seymour Hoffman. Rumors are that Hoffman has already filmed the majority of the scenes for the second movie, but with his character being so profound in the latter half of the series, fans must be worried.

Placeholder or not, the film is worth seeing as long as you open your mind to the new direction the producers took compared to the previous two films. However, view Mockingjay-Part 1 with caution because if you haven’t seen the previous two or read the books, you will be completely and utterly lost trying to put the pieces together.