Thursday, November 27, 2014     Volume: 15, Issue: 38

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Santa Maria Sun / Film

This weeks review

Hungry for more




Where is it playing?: Movies Lompoc, Parks Plaza

What's it rated?: PG-13

What's it worth?: $7.00 (Colin)

What's it worth?: $8.00 (Ashley)

User Rating: 0.00 (0 Votes)

In the third installment of The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) comes to grips with her role in the center of a growing rebellion of the districts against The Capitol. Caught between fellow Hunger Gamer, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), and hunky insurgent fighter, Gale (Liam Hemsworth), Katniss must also choose how to play the role set for her by rebellion leaders/puppeteers, President Alma Coin (Julianne Moore) and Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman). (123 min.)

Editor's note: Managing Editor Ashley Schwellenbach and Senior Staff Writer Colin Rigley filled in for Glen Starkey this week.


Colin: If I were to be the type of cynic who’d give The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 the Honest Trailers treatment, I’d probably focus on the first quarter of the movie in which Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is less concerned with the rebellion she started than she is about lover-boy Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and what to wear for her television debut. But I’m not that cynic—I’m a different type of cynic. I’m a cynic with hope who believes that one day a story targeted (mostly) at teenage girls would have the stones to focus on the badass central female archer who shoots down a tyrannical army’s pair of jets with a god damn bow and arrow, rather than how much she loves Peeta and how torn up she is about Peeta—and Peeta this, and Peeta that. Where The Hunger Games series succeeds most is in communicating why a rebellion is in order, and what’s at stake. Where it fails is being about a girl swooning over some dude and flipping through a sketchbook to marvel at the glorious outfit she’s about to wear. I can’t fault the movie for this, nor can I really fault the author. Really, there’s not much fault to be found in the story, but it’s just a bummer when it feels like pandering. Give me Katniss in normal clothes shooting Capitol ships with arrows while flipping President Snow (Donald Sutherland) the bird, and I’ll be just fine.

Ashley: I actually think the film series has improved dramatically since the first movie, which felt somehow like a caricature of the book series. I’ve heard several people complaining/joking that this movie should be called the Propaganda Games. And to a certain extent, it’s true. A good portion of the final book is dedicated to Katniss’s reluctant emergence as The Mockingjay—a symbol for the rebellion against the Capitol. But I actually think the book, and movie, paint a very smart—and yes, somewhat cynical, which I appreciate—portrait of what it takes to sway the hearts and minds of the people. And the questions being posed here are issues that confront all of us on almost a daily basis. When is a rebellion necessary? What is the cost of rebellion? And how do you know that the enemy of your enemy is truly your friend—and will be once you’ve defeated that enemy? It’s true that Katniss is conflicted, but I think you’re judging her far too harshly since that conflict primarily stems from the trauma and horror of what she’s experienced in two rounds of Hunger Games plus the nightmarish existence that preceded them. Jennifer Lawrence is pretty much perfect, as always, and I think you misread the scene in which she examines the sketches of the Mockingay suit; those images have sentimental value because they were created by Cinna, her former stylist and friend. Anyone who’s read any of the books, or even watched any of the movies, knows that Katniss doesn’t give a crap about her wardrobe. Does she care about Peeta? Yes. But a lot of that stems from guilt over knowing that he played a large role in her survival of the games. Basically, it’s much more complicated than just another silly love triangle. 

Colin: Wow, here I am trying to be a modern, enlightened man, and you’re defending those who would tell women that the most important aspects of their lives are clothes and boys. Sorry to say it, Schwellenbach, but I’m just a better feminist than you. As far as the movie is concerned, it was dark and gritty and epic and all those other adjectives that will undoubtedly fly across the screen in television trailers to come. Unfortunately, there’s just not much to say because it’s a setup for what’s to come. And that’s the bummer of it all. At no point during the movie did I find myself not dreading the moment at which it would all come crashing down in one violent fade to black—which it did. I can’t really hold it against the The Hunger Games for dragging the finale into as many movies as possible—I can blame Peter Jackson—but my patience has waned as far as watching movies that get everything lined up for the super-mega-awesome final movie. Overall, though, it’s a good flick, all my old-man ranting aside.

Ashley: I think if we’re going to rant about Hollywood’s penchant for taking a concisely told story and stretching it into a six-part miniseries, we’d have a conversation about the trailer for the final installment of The Hobbit. And generally I’m on the same page; taking longer to tell the story simply to make a few extra bucks is usually detrimental to the story. However, I remember reading Mockingjay, and the reality is that it truly does have a lot going on, a lot of twists and arcs and moments that I worry would get lost if it was all presented as one tidy package. I sort of like that people are walking away from this first installment overwhelmed by the propaganda-focused storyline—exactly the way Katniss was overwhelmed by District 13’s plans for her. I like that this stuff won’t get overlooked by a writer trying to condense it all into 10 minutes of screen time. I should add that I sort of forgot that Philip Seymour Hoffman was in this series as game-maker Plutarch Heavensbee, and seeing him unexpectedly on the screen made me gasp sadly. I think the fact that he agreed to participate in this series is a very powerful testament to the fact that The Hunger Games isn’t just another dystopian young adult series. I mean it is in the sense that it’s a young adult series set in a dystopian world, but in order to draw in talent like Philip Seymour Hoffman, you’ve gotta be doing something right. And I think as far as kickass role models go, young women (and men, as well) could do a lot worse than Katniss Everdeen. She might be conflicted, but trust me, it’s not about what to wear.


New Times' Managing Editor Ashley Schwellenbach and Senior Staff Writer Colin Rigley filled in this week. Comment at