The Hunger Games (2012-15)
Responding to this prompt has taught me that I don’t really like film franchises. Some are diverting but run out of puff after a few films – Bourne Identity, Die Hard, Terminator, Alien, Shrek and so on. Some are great but then are flogged to within an inch of their lives – Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Batman, Harry Potter.
I could argue that the Hunger Games films are not really a franchise as they were all made more or less at the same time from the same source and, as yet, there has been no spin off, prequel or reboot (although Suzanne Collins has just released A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes that tells of President Snow’s rise to power during the 10th Hunger Games).
We rewatched it recently and afterwards I reread the three books. It’s remarkable how closely the films adhere to the books; smaller characters are lost or morphed together, scenes are shifted around or left out and the grittiness and animosity is somewhat softened but they hold true to the essence and trajectory of the narrative. And Katniss is such a great protagonist; it’s hard to imagine her being played by anyone but Jennifer Lawrence.
You can compare the Hunger Games to the three Lord of the Rings films, which also do a decent job but are hampered by having to cram three weighty books and an entire history of Middle Earth into only three films. It is a bitter pill to swallow that The Hobbit was given so much screen time that it pretty much ruined itself. The Harry Potter films are also excellent, cohesive, true to the essence of the books and eminently watchable but Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) heralded the commodification of the brand and a downhill slide that seems unstoppable.
I reviewed Mockingjay Part 2 here where you can read more of my riff about book to film adaptations.
What franchises do you love? I’ll put money on the Dark Knight series being mentioned more than once.
Posted as part of the 30-Day Fillums Challenge, created by me. If you want to see what’s coming up, have a look at my post here and feel free to join in by commenting each day with your own choice.
Coming Next: Day 18: A film starring an actor whose films you will always watch