This sequel makes up for a lot of its predecessor’s glaring faults, yet somehow continues to paint its theme in the same unbelievable and contrived fashion.
Having survived the Hunger Games, a gladiatorial arena fashioned by a tyrannical society called The Capitol, heroes Katniss and Peeta must deal with their limelight fame from those they despise, and the relationship they pretended to have to escape death. The Capitol’s president however doesn’t approve how every survivor can give the repressed people hope, and creates a new Hunger Games where only seasoned survivors compete to the death.
I didn’t like 2012’s Hunger Games. I went into this sequel with trepidation, but I have to admit the first hour or so got me very interested! We have the Capitol actually flexing its muscles and giving our heroes and lower classes a hard time, they are actually competent villains for once. There are real consequences to the aftermath of the first Games, troopers raid towns, people are executed, even our heroine is shaken and brittle from the experience! The idea of Katniss and Peeta being thrown into a last-man-standing death match (for real this time) with seasoned veterans who hate them, all commanded by newcomer (and slimier than ever) Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I was pretty excited!
But then the Hunger Games event began… and everything fell apart. Our combatants are unique, but about two thirds of them die off screen, and the real problem of fighting to the last man is dropped immediately. The Capitol again have no teeth, no guts and their Hunger Games as a concept continues to be completely redundant.
I’m sorry, but I still don’t understand. The Capitol are still incompetent villains at the end of the day, and it infuriates me! I like the idea that they are weak due to their overconfidence and complacency, but it has never been shown that the Hunger Games even works as a deterrent, it only seems to be a massive invitation for uprising and war. It makes no sense!
There’s also a twist at the end, I cannot say what it is, but it only compounds this complete inability by The Capitol, and actually undermines most of the threat that you initially felt earlier. I cannot comprehend watching this again… it would be even less convincing.
(it also still irritates me that most of the actual killing in the Hunger Games happens off screen, although it is true this film has a little more brutality)
This film does have a very good beginning, I like The Capitol’s citizens, I like the heavy subtext of television control and celebrity worship that dominates the first hour. Jennifer Lawrence is still great as Katniss, the action is actually directed better here (less shaky-cam and rapid cuts) and for two hours and thirty, it didn’t feel long.
But god does it still wound me with its lackluster execution and its unbelievably not-threatening tyrants, and it all fell apart at the end.