Major Spoilers Follow…
While I certainly enjoyed the first “Hunger Games” film, there was definitely something missing. Some of the smaller tweaks in the first one were pretty distracting to me, the film was good but nothing spectacular. This film on the other hand surpasses it’s predecessor in most categories, and the changes from the book aren’t too distracting this time around.
One of the few big issues I had with the film was the portrayal of Peeta. I was reading an article from this site NPR(reminded me of Orange is the New Black) which stated that Peeta was Katniss’s “movie girlfriend”, and it’s a very accurate but almost an understatement of how useless and cringe inducing Peeta is at times. He’s dead weight and throughout the film, I rolled my eyes at the numerous instances in which Peeta messes up(there’s another article from a site whose name escapes me that lists all of the times Peeta messes up in the film, it’s great I’d definitely check it out).
Another small thing I had a bit of a problem with was the lack of focus on the pregame festivities such as the Victory Tour and the interaction between the previous game winners. It was one of my favorite aspects in the book, and it due to Katniss’s(not nearly as utilized) PTSD in the film it would have been excellent to see her reactions to meeting more of the previous tributes families. Still the District Eleven scene was excellently portrayed here, and like Rue’s death in the first film I kind of wanted to cry. Seeing the residents in District Eleven showing their rebellion by raising their hands in salute to Katniss was a powerful image which really stuck with me throughout the rest of the film.
Despite hearing awful things about Donald Sutherland as a person(Buffy the Vampire Slayer film antics with Joss Wheadon), his acting in this film is superb. He really comes off as a menacingly passive aggressive but occasionally almost relatable villain in the film. The scene where he confronts Katniss in her home was amazingly tense and suspenseful. The scenes with him and his (gran??)daughter were nice in showing that he has another side to him besides cruel dictator.
The Game’s visuals were stellar and beautiful, and the interaction between Katniss and Johanna and Finnick was great. Holy shit, Johana. She’s probably the most badass character in the whole movie, and I know it’s not a traditional ship, I totally ship Katfick(Katniss and Finnick). Like Johana I found the constant “tick tocks” were a bit annoying. A small little complaint but I felt they missed out a bit on the battle between Cashmiere and Gloss.
The film’s ending, like the book, will leave the audience completely stunned, and the book readers hungry for more. The District 13 reveal felt a bit glossed over though in the end and I could see how one could miss it in the first viewing. Also it might have been nice to include the women searching for District 13, to help make the reveal seem more deserved.
Overall it was a really good and entertaining film, not the best movie of all time but this series is definitely surpassing Harry Potter series in the FILM department(I love the Harry Potter books dearly, but the movies quite frankly are pretty cruddy). Jennifer Lawrence does some fantastic work in this movie as usual, and the cast is overall pretty great.
OVERALL: 92% A-