The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
Okay, lets talk. We need to chat about book adaptations. I confess there was a time when being faithful to the source material was important to me. I remember having a number of nitpicks when the Lord of the Rings trilogy came out, for example. But over time, the movie fan in me has grown to realize that adaptations should not be about capturing the source material as closely as possible, they should be about making a good movie, period. The books are there to provide a proven story and a source of inspiration. The movie should try to capture the overall tone of the material yes, but changes are usually very necessary. For example, changing the ending of Watchman was a big improvement in making the whole film more complete and well-rounded. Leaving out Tom Bombadil from Fellowship of the Ring was a necessity, since it would have disrupted the pace and flow of the film. The point is, making a great movie should be priority one, accuracy to the source is secondary.
The reason for this rant is because the process of adapting is where I think the latest Hunger Games movie has problems. Its clear that they want to make book fans happy and really try to get lots of little details and stuff in from the book. But what ends up happening is that lots about this movie feels very contrived, There are very small examples of this that add up, and there is one glaringly large example of this.
The small examples are things like Katniss having a nickname for her sister (little dove or something?), which is clearly only there because its in the book and reader’s expect it. But it sounds eye-rollingly unnatural whenever its said, and very transparent to why its there. These little book details keep popping up and feeling out of place with the movie presented.
But the biggest example of this is the relationship between Katniss and Peeta. They keep trying to jam this thing down our throats, but its not at all convincing. Which is problematic since her thinly-constructed motivations for why she’s dong things centers around her “love” for Peeta and her wish to help him. But there is absolutely no chemistry between these characters and it ll feels like a false note. And its clear it is being force-fed directly from the books.
Now, I did mostly enjoy this movie. I liked seeing the revolution take hold and enjoyed a lot of aspects about how that worked. But it does feel like a lot of the underlying problems of this film franchise are starting to break through.