By Aaron Stiles
The Hunger Games films are based on the beloved book trilogy of the same name by author Suzanne Collins, published starting in 2008. The story takes place in a futuristic dystopian society ruled by a cunning and manipulative dictator, President Snow, who will go to any lengths necessary to keep hold of his power over the kingdom, which is split into 13 separate districts and kept to strict rationing and martial law.
The Hunger Games themselves are games played and broadcasted in Panem, the fictional kingdom in The Hunger Games, wherein kids ages 12 to 18 are pitted against each other in gladiator-style fights to the death that test their limitations, physically and mentally, leaving alive only one contender.
This is, of course, a way to commemorate the day that a rebel uprising was squashed by President Snow and his army of Peacekeepers. The premise is a brutal yet intriguing one, which has brought fans of the books and newcomers to the story into theaters time and time again since 2012.
Jennifer Lawrence, who plays the protagonist Katniss Everdeen, catapulted to fame after the first film and has since become the highest paid actress in Hollywood today. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 is the highly anticipated conclusion to this epic saga.
The biggest problem is most of the scenes fall flat when they should be standing tall and colossal in front of the audience, giving them a full-fledged and satisfying end to an already interesting and well-conceived saga of films.
About 25 minutes into the film, rebels decide to infiltrate the capital city to end President Snow’s atrocities once and for all. They hold a briefing of what must be done. Commander Paylor stands on stage in front of these battle-weary and emaciated rebels, to inspire them to fight and have hope for victory, and she delivers a dry, droll speech that couldn’t inspire a boxer to fight.
This is just one example of some of the really sub-par acting that was in this film. Josh Hutcherson, who plays Katniss’ love interest Peeta Mellark, has always delivered his lines with a blank, stiff face. His lines often sound like they’re coming from a robot rather than a human.
Jennifer Lawrence also rarely expresses emotions in her face when she is delivering lines. I don’t think she’s a bad actor, but she has declined considerably since the first film. That is not to say that, throughout the series, she hasn’t displayed considerable acting talent in others films, such as Silver Linings Playbook or American Hustle. It’s become clear, however, that The Hunger Games are well-explored, uninteresting acting country for her.
The blame may not lie on the actors in this case, but perhaps the director Gary Ross is responsible. Often, if a director tries to restrict an actor too much, or tries to force them rather than guide them, you can often come out with poor performances. Other times, when a director gives too much freedom to the actors and no clear direction, that can also lead to bad acting as well.
A lot of the film feels anti-climactic. When Katniss and her friends enter the Capital, they are faced with miles of traps designed to murder the small group of rebels. This part is supposed to be the biggest and most exciting part of the film, and yet it is over in about 10 minutes, with the group outsmarting only two or three traps before making it to the gates of the Capital building.
The Hunger Games come to a sort of disappointing end after so much build up. Readers of the book will find that a few things have changed and that things are much smaller in scale than in the book. Fans of the film series will undoubtedly purchase a ticket and be satisfied when the story wraps up, but for some it may not live up to expectations. Overall, the series seems to have lost the imagination that once enthralled so many people.