A new Hunger Games movie is upon us, for better or worse, which means it’s time to look back at the hit young adult franchise and rank the films starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth , Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson and many others. others. Where does the Ballad of Songbirds and Serpents fit in? Keep reading to find out!
5) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (2014)
Part 1 of Mockingjay remains a solid but unremarkable entry in the franchise, mainly because it serves as a setup for Part 2. We can debate whether Suzanne Collins’ trilogy required a four and a half hour runtime . However, splitting the novel into two parts gives director Francis Lawrence time to evolve our heroes/villains and further explore the politics that define the Hunger Games. To that end, Mockingjay – Part 1 is a compelling character drama, powerful enough to keep the viewer intrigued until the grand finale.
4) The Hunger Games (2012)
The original Phenomenon still works as a little piece of dystopian science fiction, even if it falls short of the more ambitious sequels. Director Gary Ross does what he can with a modest $78 million production budget, relying more on character drama and political intrigue than grandiose set pieces. Ross does an excellent job establishing the dangerous world of Panem and its various districts, introducing viewers to our featured heroes, Katniss, Peeta and Gale, and the villainous President Snow (Donald Sutherland), while building towards the ultra-violent Hunger Games. The massive contest does not disappoint, even if the supporting characters are more caricatured than menacing. Overall, this is a good start for the franchise, paving the way for some exciting sequels.
3) The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Serpents (2023)
Leave it to Collins to find interesting new wrinkles in the Hunger Games saga. Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes tells the origin story of President Snow, showing how he grew from a deeply flawed but ambitious young man (Tom Blyth) to the cunning politician seen in the original series. Returning director Francis Lawrence ensures that this is not a retread of The Hunger Games, introducing an assortment of intriguing characters worth exploring in future chapters (if they come to fruition). Rachel Ziegler’s portrayal of Lucy Gray is a refreshing change from Katniss Everdeen’s character. Unlike Katniss, Lucy is not fearless. She runs away in terror when she enters the games and relies more on courage and luck than a bow and arrows to survive.
In contrast, Snow begins as an idealistic young man stuck in the big hole his father dug, but quickly discovers his natural ability to manipulate, murder, and deceive his way to victory. Like Walter White, he is a good man who happens to be a better villain, justifying his actions even when his loved ones are killed. At one point, he shoots a woman in cold blood without hesitation and doesn’t seem shaken – credit to Blyth for a performance that makes Snow both a noble hero and a slithering serpent. In many ways, Songbirds and Snakes mirrors the story of Anakin Skywalker, but with greater eloquence.
That said, there was enough material to warrant two films. The second half of Songbirds & Snakes covers a lot of ground and feels like the Cliff Notes version of a much grander story. It’s as if Lawrence feared the studio wouldn’t greenlight more sequels and wrote a standalone chapter that sets the stage for additional films should audiences demand more. At least it’s not another 11 o’clock TV show.
Other standouts include Viola Davis’ mad Dr. Volumnia Gaul, Peter Dinklage’s Cat Highbottom, and Jason Schwartzman’s Lucky Flickerman, who comments on the Hunger Games like a game show host waiting for his next smoke break.
Aside from clunky pacing and a few too many songs from Ms. Zegler, Songbirds & Snakes is a solid prequel that fleshes out the Hunger Games story. Was it necessary? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the show.
2) The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015)
Director Francis Lawrence and star Jennifer Lawrence go out with a bang in Mockingjay – Part 2, the grand finale of The Hunger Games saga. At times ridiculous and a little too dramatic for its own good, this fourth installment of the film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ thoughtful series focuses on action and political intrigue en route to a shocking conclusion that reveals its true purpose: to explore the futility of war and the cyclical nature of violence. The atypical young adult tropes remain—the love story, the zany supporting characters, and the dystopian setting—handled with surprising maturity. No, it’s not Saving Private Ryan, but The Hunger Games is a thought-provoking exploration of war and its aftermath.
1) The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
If The Hunger Games is a delicious starter, then Francis Lawrence’s Catching Fire makes the delicious main course. Anchored by Jennifer Lawrence’s strong performance and a strong supporting cast, the sequel expands this strange universe in unique ways, establishes the political machinations swirling behind the scenes, and still manages to deliver what audiences expect: a thrilling and violent tournament which plunges our heroes into constant peril. Lawrence paints on a massive canvas and demonstrates a talent for building suspense, ultimately pushing the second chapter towards a shocking conclusion that leaves you wanting more.