Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One

I don't get these movies. I really, really don't.

What's worse is that not only do I not see the appeal to these films, like at all, but I can easily envision how they could be great. By the way, I'm about to spoil this shit out of this movie, so if you're planning on seeing it regardless of what I say, don't read it. If you're wondering whether or not to see this based on what I say, well then, first of all, what is wrong with you for depending on me for advice, and second of all, don't see it.

I think my problems with these films -- which are technically-speaking just fine -- is that I don't understand three things in any of them. I do not understand what makes Katniss so great in this universe, I do not understand why Katniss loves Peeta, and I do not understand any of Katniss's motivations. Maybe I am a dum-dum and just don't get things, but I'm pretty sure these movies have never done a good job explaining this to me.

Ok, so to summarize the first two movies, Katniss is a mother-effing celebrity in this world of reality-TV style battles-to-the-death, and then in this film, she becomes the symbol of the insurgency. Objectively though, why  is she so famous and popular? What has she done to inspire such devotion? She volunteered for tribute in the first movie, which was cool. Good job, Katniss. Plus ten points.

But then, she displays virtually no other talents in the rest of the franchise. She is not especially gifted in a fight, nor is she some sort of tactical genius. In the first movie, she wins basically by process of elimination, as everybody who tries to kill her either kills themselves or gets killed by someone else. I might appreciate this a bit more if she were, on principle, a pacifist or something or intentionally set out to undermine the battle-to-the-death competition by not participating in it, but she clearly intends harm on a few people, and usually has a weapon on her most of the time, so....

And let's talk about that weapon. A bow is relatively smart in a death match in the middle of a wilderness. You got some long range capabilities, stealth, basically unlimited ammo as long as there are sharp sticks around; it's pretty great. (As long as the people in charge of this death match who have explicitly stated to wanting you dead do not provide you with this weapon that you've demonstrated great proficiency with.) However, this is not the weapon you want to use in an actual war, nor does Katniss have any experience fighting in one either.

To go along with that, she displays no abilities for tactics either. In addition to the whole, waiting-until-everyone-else-kills-themselves strategy from before, she didn't participate at all in the rebellious plans in the second movie. Not only did she not make any plans for this, she didn't even know they were going on. Wouldn't a character who was wildly passionate about bringing down an oppressive government, upholding a strict moral code while possessing great tactical or battle skills been a much more interesting character than this one that doesn't fight, doesn't plan and doesn't care? For some reason this person who has no skills is chosen as the symbol for the insurgency.

For the first two movies, I had no idea whether Katniss loved Peeta or not. In fact, I was relatively certain that she actually loved Gale, but was just pretending to love Peeta for...some reason. I guess if you're in love, people will airmail you stuff during the death match, but that didn't happen a whole lot, did it? Like twice over the course of two movies? So...yep, I'm extra confused now.

I also don't understand why she would choose Peeta over Gale. This sounds like I'm making a Twilighty type of argument, like I personally prefer Gale over Peeta, so I hate her for choosing Jacob or something, but no. Peeta has only ever been an asshole to her and in general. In the first movie, he tries to kill her, and before that, threw pig food at her in the rain. That doesn't even seem like a nice person, let alone someone you could fall in love with. Further, Peeta displays virtually no good qualities. I mean, he's just a guy. Katniss is not only Jennifer Lawrence, but she is also Jennifer Fucking Lawrence. In the world of the Hunger Games, she's the celebrity. Why would she bother this guy  who does and says nothing interesting ever.

Gale, on the other hand, shows himself in the first movie to care about Katniss, shows himself to be brave and selfless in the second, and is an actual hero in the third movie.

So until this movie, I was certain that she was actually in love with Gale, but starting now, Katniss is fucking in love super duper obsessed writing Mrs. Peeta in her math notebook in love with this asshole, and it sucks. It sucks not only because I don't understand why she loves him, but also because this love is extremely distracting to fucking everything else going on.

At this beginning of this film, Katniss is offered to be the propaganda symbol of the revolution. Because two films usually make more money than one, she spends a good deal of time wondering whether or not she'll accept the position or not, while being angry at the same people who saved her life and are sheltering her family and friends because they didn't also save Peeta. Gee, thanks for taking care of my mother, best friend and little sister that I was willing to die for two movies ago, but you didn't save my death match teammate so fuck you. Teenagers, amiright?

Compare this to Imagination Katniss. Imagination Katniss gets her life saved by these people who are fighting the oppressive government that tried to kill her. Recognizing that she has no useful skills aside from her celebrity status, she agrees to be the poster girl for their revolution, knowing that she is working towards ending a world where a love like hers cannot flourish, and strives to ensure that future generations will have opportunities she never had. You know, like a person who is not a selfish asshole.

But no, Imagination Katniss is not real, and we're left with plain ole' Katniss, who expends no real effort towards the people she claims to care about, ending the war, toppling the oppressive government, or the soldiers who depend on her. She just harps on and on about Peeta, while occasionally kissing Gale. At the end of the movie, the revolution is able to knock out communications and electricity in the capital city, so they sneak in and run a rescue mission for Peeta. This is the culmination of stupidity, that Katniss's obsession with Peeta results in the revolution wasting this opportunity to end the war by assassinating the president under the cover of darkness to instead save a useless little shit, because if they don't, Katniss will pout, like, super hard.

I will say that there are parts of this movie I liked. One of the main problems with the first two is that they were not brutal enough. I say that not only because teenagers are annoying and I wouldn't mind watching them die on screen, but because we are expected to believe that the Hunger Games are these awful, traumatic experiences, but they never look so bad. Katniss never has to compromise on her morals and nobody ever gets their hands dirty. These movies get compared to Battle Royale a lot, and the one thing that Battle Royale did so much better was to show how awful a fight like this between children can get. You have people committing suicide and killing their best friends and begging for mercy and getting killed in unfair ways, and it's all bloody and gruesome. In Hunger Games, Peeta decorates himself like a cake.

But this one almost skirted into interesting territory, with an entire city and an entire hospital full of people getting killed. It started to be the kind of thing that made you care about the world as a whole. But then the nonsense with two teenagers being in love gets in the way.

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