Mockingjay Pt 1 (again)

2014, THE HUNGER GAMES -  MOCKINGJAYPrior to watching the recently released Hunger Games: Mockingjay Pt.2 Blu-ray which closes out the Hunger Games saga, I’ve had to watch last year’s release of Mockingjay Pt.1 again, if only in the hope of then following what goes on in the second part. Funny thing is, that same logic would (you’d think) have required me to rewatch the first two Hunger Games films too- and yes, actually it would have helped, because I had a bit of a hard time getting back into Pt.1 as it was. But how much time do these film-makers and studios think we casual fans have to devote to their sagas?

Its the trouble with these serialised franchises if you aren’t familiar with the original source material or such a fan that you’ve re-watched installments several times and are wholly familiar with the storyline.  I’ve enjoyed the Hunger Games films, but I’ve bought the successive releases really out of curiousity of how the damn thing all turns out. It does raise the question of the demands these serialised films make on the audience- sure, die-hard fans will always be onboard and up to speed, but what mainstream ‘general’ audiences have to make of dipping into these movies is anyones guess. It also must inevitably impact on the quality/success of the individual films themselves. Are they supposed to function as separate entities or not?

I raised this in my original review of Pt 1 last March, and I’ll quote it here – in some ways its the most interesting of the Hunger Games series I’ve seen. But it is inevitably hamstrung by the decision, right or wrong, artistic or purely business-based, to split its original book’s story into two. Essentially Mockingjay is, by its very nature, the beginning and part-middle of a bigger story. There is no resolution here. Characters are being introduced, arcs being set up, that will not come to fruition until the second part. It makes for  very frustrating experience, especially in light of having to wait another year for the conclusion.

Re-watching Pt.1, I’m in that same position of not knowing where its all going but at least I’m nearer to that particular goal with Pt.2 now sitting by the Blu-ray player. Pt.1 remains a very interesting film and a surprisingly dark one too, but I guess its real value and success can only really be judged by having seen Pt.2 so we’ll see how that turns out. I appreciate that these grand sagas and their long stories can reward in ways that short one-off films cannot, but do think the patience of audiences must be getting strained by these annual episodes.

It raises the question of how much audiences will continue to accept the demands of serials like this. I’ve read that when Pt.2 was released theatrically last year its box-office was lower than earlier installments, an indication perhaps that audiences are tiring of such demands and serialised film-sagas in general. Logic might have expected a bigger or at least maintained audience since its the grand conclusion and everyone wants to see how it all turns out, but it doesn’t seem to have turned out that way. Or maybe some people were turned off by Pt.1 and its inevitably hamstrung anti-conclusion? Is a year too long to expect people to wait? Maybe some of the potential audience decided to just wait a little longer for the home video release and watch the whole saga as a box set rather than drop into the second part at the cinema.Maybe their patience will be rewarded by a superior viewing experience. In anycase, I’ve found myself in the strange position of being forced to rewatch a film in order to improve my enjoyment of the succeeding one, and actually found that I might have been better served by watching the previous two too.

We are living in the era of the box-set, and it’s getting quite exhausting.

3 thoughts on “Mockingjay Pt 1 (again)

  1. When Peter Jackson made the decision to not include “Previously on Lord of the Rings…” at the start of Two Towers, he really set a precedent that everyone else in the serialised movie business has followed. I approved of the decision at the time, but in retrospect I wish he’d gone the other way. I watched Mockingjay Part 2 without bothering to re-watch Part 1, and I got by OK, but I wonder if it would’ve been better as a double bill. Equally, I watched Part 1 in September, so it’s only been 6 months.

    Regarding box office, the latest instalment of the Divergent series has crashed and burned, so badly they’re reportedly cutting the budget of the final instalment. Couple that with Hunger Games‘ diminishing returns and you have to wonder what effect it will have on series-makers’ decisions going forward.

    1. Hmmm it does seem audiences may be losing patience with these serialised films or expensive cinema tickets are turning them towards the eventual box set. Or maybe its more of the whole ‘teenage girl saving the world’ thing getting tired. Hunger Games might have wrapped up just in time.

      1. I suppose bubbles for movies aimed at kids burst quickly — they grow up, after all. But something always comes along: all those fantasy (wannabe-)franchises faltered in the wake of Potter and Twilight, then we had Hunger Games, and now its successors are going through the failure stage. I wonder what’ll be next?

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