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Old Man Duggan's Pop-culture corner: Mockingjay, Part 2

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What could it have been?

What the hell is Hutcherson wearing?
What the hell is Hutcherson wearing?
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Over the past couple weeks, I've actually seen quite a few movies in the theaters, and I've watched the bulk of the binge-able new content on Netflix and Amazon Prime. There are any number of things--namely Spotlight or The Man in the High Castle or Jessica Jones or Creed or W/ Bob & David--that deserve my attention more than Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2, but I keep coming back to this as the thing that warrants words being spent upon it.

Now just because I'm writing about it, doesn't mean I think it's better than any of those aforementioned projects. There is no direction in which the imagination can stretch in which that claim could objectively be made.

No, the reason I can't get Mockingjay, Part 2 out of my head is that it was such a mess.

Having no relationship with the series other than having seen the previous installments one time apiece, I was struck early on by how absurd it was that Liam Hemsworth's character*--who to this point sort of fought but seemed like his only attributes of worth to the cause was that Katniss** liked him and maybe that he could hunt--was suddenly not only speaking up in a military strategy meeting but that people were listening to him.

*Gail, though I'll be damned if I'm looking up the proper spelling on his character's name, so we'll just assume Gail is right.
**I think that spelling is correct, but these are all really dumb names and do not deserve my typically dutiful attention to such details.

I'm not one to search high and low for holes in storytelling, but this was so glaring and so early as to elicit an muttered f-bomb directed at the film on the whole. While this in and of itself isn't such an egregious offense as to warrant a screed decrying the film's shortcomings, it is indicative of the film's larger problems. Some of these problems were detailed in an Entertainment Weekly piece that I read a week ago and cannot find for the life of me, but they spoke to the ill-fitting way in which the film was adapted to the screen, largely as needed to cater to the PG-13 audience and rating.

Apparently the tone of the books was both more darkly and sardonically comic (was there any comedy in this last film?), and they got progressively more violent as the war waged on around their heroine. These elements of the book did not carry over into the films. Perhaps more importantly to the non-book reading crowd, clearly important character plot points were not included in the film.

Adaptation of films from other source material is far from easy, but when a fairly central character suddenly and inexplicably has a level of respect, duty, and responsibility that has not been set up AT ALL, the adaptation has failed in at least one place.

I'll refrain from further analysis of the film, though you are welcome to do so below. As my wife who read the books later explained, there was a whole bunch of stuff left out, which as someone who hasn't read them is problematic. I am sure the books are great, and the films are not terrible, but one has to wonder what could have been if the films were made in closer spirit to their source material.

In closing, see Spotlight. Hell, see Creed if you love Michael B. Jordan and Rocky Balboa, which you should.

Open questions to the masses:

Did you like The Hunger Games series? Did you read the books?

What adaptations of source material that you read did you love? Which did you loathe?