Sunday, 20 November 2016

The Hunger Games (Worst to Best Ranking)


The Hunger Games is easily my favourite cinematic franchise ever. Today marks the one year anniversary of the release of the series finale, Mockingjay - Part Two. To celebrate, I'm taking a look back at the four film run, all of which were adapted from Suzanne Collins' trilogy, and attempting the impossible - putting them in order of worst to best! Be sure to let me know how you rank the four films and tell me all the reasons you love Katniss Everdeen's rise to the Young Adult elite.



4. The Hunger Games (2012)




Starting it all back in 2012, The Hunger Games is an absolutely solid film in its own right and only takes the bottom slot on this list in comparison to the more well-rounded and realised later instalments. It wonderfully builds the world and mythology of the dystopian future in which it is set, introducing some terrific characters played out by one of the strongest casts to grace a YA franchise, exquisitely lead by Jennifer Lawrence as rebellion leader Katniss. The film is, quite literally, a little shaky, with Gary Ross' decision to go handheld a little disconcerting, affecting the thrill of the action a little. These are only minor complaints though and it does enhance the realism of the film, with the audience feeling like they are right beside Katniss during the games, rather than watching as sensitised members of the Capitol do. In essence, its a smart decision that is not executed completely effectively.  However, the rest of the film works perfectly in setting up a playing ground for the franchise to continue on without feeling heavy handed, introducing some of the series' big themes and suggesting that it is a the new franchise of our times.


(9/10)

 Summary: The Hunger Games brilliantly sets the themes, tones and incredible standard of performances to expect from the next big franchise, that follows in the genre-defining footsteps of Harry Potter.



3. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part One (2014)




Mockingjay - Part One seemed to (unfairly) garner the biggest complaints of the series, with a purposefully slower pace building more defined character arcs and stories misunderstood by those with a higher demand for high-energy, bells, whistles, explosions and bangs at every turn, having overindulged in that through the tentpole society we live in. Arguably the quietest film of the series but equally as powerful, Mockingjay - Part One is one part war film, one part drama and one part dystopian action, with a far more complex focus on its themes (such as PTSD and paranoia) in comparison to other similarly-targeted franchises, and it handles them with ease. Once again in big thanks to a dedicated and committed performance by Lawrence and the expanded supporting cast, it proves that just because a film is targeted at a younger demographic, it doesn't mean it needs to dilute its themes or only half-heartedly explore them. Despite a big risk to split the novel in two films (as the Divergent series discovered earlier this year), it results in a very effective and thorough two part release that comes up trumps over what would be one watered-down, longer film. It features one of my favourite moments of the franchise - Everdeen's big 'if we burn, you burn' speech, which sends shivers down my spine thanks to her perfect delivery.


(9.5/10)

Summary: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part One's decision to focus on character development so closely to the finale greatly pays off, working with some darker themes and tones - all of which are championed by some of Lawrence's best work yet.


2. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part Two (2015)




Deciding the top two positions could come down to a flip of the coin, but Mockingjay - Part Two falls into second place through no fault of its own. Despite the heavy weight on its shoulders to live up to the critically celebrated and beloved franchise, the film refuses to sink under the pressure, offering an emotional, powerful and intense showdown with brilliant set pieces and a number of major themes right at the forefront. And, please stop me if I am beginning to sound like a broken record as I fear I am, but J-Law is absolutely the magnetic heart and soul of the picture, with a large portion of the success of the franchise down to her star-turn, as well as the crafting of her almost-hero, Katniss Everdeen. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part Two is a sensational finale defined by its sombre, bittersweet ending that executes its stray from the formula with conviction, delivering a powerful swan song for the franchise that always felt one step in front of the competition.



(10/10)

Summary: The Hunger Games Mockingjay - Part Two is a triumphant finale to an almost-faultless series, delving into the darkest and bleakest corners of the narrative of Katniss' final swan song, performed seamlessly by Jennifer Lawrence, sparking a more than satisfactory ending to the dystopian phenomenon.

For more of my ramblings on this excellent film, check out my FULL REVIEW, which was one of my earliest posts - as I'm very sure you can tell!


1. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)


 Very possibly my favourite film ever (and at the very least tied with Mockingjay - Part Two and David Fincher's Gone Girl in an unwavering top three),  The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is a demonstration of how to successfully translate already solid material on to screen, develop on the weaknesses of a predecessor into unequivocal successes, amp up all the intensity and nail-biting and craft a picture that offers heart, soul, care and thrills in equal measures. A number of thought-provoking themes pull into the central frame, all of which are expertly accomplished with Francis Lawrence's help - taking the director reigns with a smoother execution and a broader vision than his predecessor. A three-act structure feeds into the success and even with a solid two hour-plus runtime, the film is constantly engaging, relentless and gripping. *Insert speech praising Jennifer Lawrence*. The only reason Catching Fire edges Mockingjay - Part Two is one particular scene; when Katniss is lifted out of the arena by the crane, as it sets on fire around and below her, every single detail is lushly crafted with such beauty and clarity and, in all honesty, it is my favourite ever scene from a film. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is as sharp as Katniss' arrow.


(10/10)

Summary: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is an absolute masterpiece, with incredible performances (particularly from Jennifer Lawrence as the inspiring Katniss Everdeen), a smooth and lush direction from Francis Lawrence, a gripping and thrilling narrative anchored by a solid three-act structure 


And there we have it! My definitive (well, for today anyway) ranking of the four films that form The Hunger Games franchise, my favourite cinematic franchise ever. How do you rank the four films and, if possible, do you love it as much as I do? Let me know!

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