With four small boys between us, it’s not often my boyfriend and I make it out of the house together at the weekend, just the two of us, even less common is the opportunity to go to the cinema, factoring in a couple of hours for the movie; a half hour for adverts and trailers; an hour for travelling there and back, so it was indeed a treat last Sunday to realise that we could have a lie-in; go for a nice bike ride and still have time to go into Kingston to see Mockingjay.
As is my way, I became aware of the Hunger Games books when they released the first film and, rather than go to see it, I went straight out and bought the books to read. Also true to form, the second film, Catching Fire, was already in the cinemas by the time I got around to buying the first film on blu-ray. I sat down with my sceptical boyfriend to watch it and we were both enchanted with the treatment the books had received to the point where, shortly after the second film was released on blu-ray, my boyfriend went out and bought it for himself (I’m not going to complain, considering we share the movie collection). I have to say though, there were a couple of key facts which were left out of the films for me to explain to him, for example, to determine who are the tributes sent from the districts to the Capitol to participate in the game, names are drawn out of a hat but the films never do (or at least still haven’t and aren’t likely to now) explain how the names get in there, although Katniss and Gale do discuss how many times their names are in the draw, telling us that it isn’t as straightforward as one child one chance.*
So, having not had time for lunch, we grabbed a couple of hot dogs and a pack of Yorkie Mansized Buttons (I swear I didn’t eat any of them!) and headed for the back row of the small auditorium. We were seated behind a whole row of small boys, probably aged around ten, apparently all supervised by one woman sucking desperately on her cup of coffee at the far end. There was a certain amount of messing around, playing with brightly-lit phones and talking so I was poised, knee in the air, ready to start kicking the backs of seats and perfectly prepared to confiscate annoying mobile phones but, to give them credit, there was neither a peep nor a flash from any of the boys from opening credits to closing ones, at which point they started messing about again and proving that they really were too young for the film.
I’m reluctant to tell you much about the film as I suspect if you’re reading this you either have already seen it or plan to see it for yourself but I can tell you that some bits made me jump and some bits made me cry. Katniss had the same blend of awkwardness; determination; rage and emotional confusion as she did in the first two films**. Gale’s character and the family dynamic between Katniss, Prim and their mother are both evolving nicely. New characters are introduced but not so many as to be overwhelming. I’m not sure this third film is quite as good as the first two although, having watched The Hunger Games a little over a week ago while my boyfriend was out, I feel I’ll have to watch Catching Fire again too, just to be sure.
*Starting from the age of twelve, a child’s name is entered once per year of their life so a twelve year old like Prim would have one basic entry into the draw, a thirteen year old would have two entries and so on. In addition to this, children can “buy” basic supplies for their families (a package of grain and oil, supposedly enough to last a person for a year) by taking a tessera and entering their name into the draw again. Katniss has many entries into the draw because she has been supporting herself; her sister and mother with an additional three entries per year; Gale has more due to supporting his larger family.
**While it’s lovely when films remain faithful to the books on which they are based, I feel it’s more important that they maintain consistency with the other films in the series. After all, not only are film and book audiences often different people but there are things in books it can be almost impossible to convey in a film, like the subtle scent of blood on President Snow’s breath as he leans in close to talk to Katniss, so films are forced to tell the story in other ways.