- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 received mixed reviews, with some feeling that the ending was anticlimactic and focused too much on action sequences.
- The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 lost some of its allure by moving away from the Hunger Games and splitting the final book in two, but it deepened the Everdeen family dynamic.
- The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is considered the strongest film in the franchise, with amplified energy, higher stakes, and a breathtaking arena for the Quarter Quell Hunger Games.
Of the five Hunger Games movies in the franchise, they all rank fairly high among fans, but some are certainly better than others. The original movies brought the world of Panem to life, and they also made Jennifer Lawrence a household name. The Hunger Games book series by author Suzanne Collins has gained an immense fan following since its debut in 2008, and it didn’t take long for Lionsgate to acquire the movie rights to the trilogy. But as with all beloved book series, there’s often hesitation when it comes to transforming pages to the big screen. The Hunger Games movies ranked show some adaptations were better than others.
The movies followed Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence), the scrappy teen from District 12 who bravely volunteered to take her sister’s spot in the Hunger Games. Katniss used her experience to revolt against the Capitol and, in turn, she started an uprising. The franchise has since expanded with the first prequel movie The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, which follows a young Coriolanus Snow (Tom Blyth) and Lucy Gray Baird (Rachel Zegler) during the 10th Hunger Games. The Hunger Games movies ranked from worst to best also highlight the success of this franchise even as it grows and evolves.
5 The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
It’s extremely difficult to satisfy everybody when it comes to the final film in a major franchise. Unfortunately, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 showed that all too well. There were a lot of high expectations for director Francis Lawrence to appropriately close out the final chapter of Katniss’ story, but there was a sense from many people that this ending felt anticlimactic. The storyline at this point was grim, yet the movie focused too much on action sequences rather than character interactions. There is also a sense that what happens to Panem after The Hunger Games‘ Second Rebellion would have been a more interesting story.
This isn’t to say that Mockingjay – Part 2 was a horrid film. It was still very watchable and did build to a striking climax where Katniss finally got her chance to take down the Capitol. The fierce heroine took down Panem’s most dangerous leaders, but she lost a lot along the way; broken relationships, trauma from her experience in multiple Hunger Games, and witnessing the death of Prim took a toll on Katniss. Lawrence sells the grief of the franchise’s hero, but Katniss’ suffering makes it hard to imagine she could ever have a happy ending.
4 The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 marks the point where the franchise turned, becoming an all-out war movie as the Second Rebellion kicks off. Unfortunately, while the performance of Lawrence and the stellar supporting cast ramped up the energy, the film was mainly concerned with moving pieces around the board and lost some of its allure by stepping away from the Hunger Games. By not featuring a Hunger Games for the first time in the franchise, Mockingjay – Part 1 lacked the thrill that made the first two movies so great. Splitting the final Hunger Games book in two also left the feeling that this movie was treading water in saving the big moments for the end.
However, the glimpse inside the rebellion and its various players was an interesting new direction to take the franchise in and helped to explore Panem. It was also refreshing to see some of the core characters have a chance to interact properly once again. Except for brief sequences at the beginning of the first two movies, Katniss barely had time with her family. Mockingjay – Part 1 put Katniss’ relationship with her sister and mother at the forefront, which deepened the Everdeen family dynamic ahead of the bigger twists to come. And while Peeta was held captive and brainwashed for most of the movie, Katniss was able to spend valuable time with Gale, something that fans had been wanting since the first movie.
3 The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
The decision to center the first Hunger Games prequel movie and book around the franchise’s main villain was always a risky decision, but The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes proves to be a worthy addition to the franchise’s lore. By going back to the 10th Hunger Games, the movie is able to recapture some of the excitement that came from the original two movies by placing Lucy Gray in the middle of the deadly competition. The relationship between Snow and Lucy is very much at the center, and the movie finds success with the excellent performances of Tom Blyth and Rachel Zegler, along with scene-stealing work from other cast members.
In many ways, The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes is about as good of an adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ book as possible given its nature. The novel is the longest of the series, which fittingly gives the movie a franchise-record runtime. However, this still leaves some character development and relationships feeling rushed as director Francis Lawrence attempts to fit everything into a single movie. There are certainly some entertaining highs and emotional lows that viewers will experience along the way, and The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes‘ ending leaves audiences wanting more. It’s a step up from the Mockingjay movies at the very least.
2 The Hunger Games
There was a lot of pressure on The Hunger Games when it premiered in 2012. Readers wanted to see the books’ beloved story play out faithfully on-screen, but with all the violent killing of young children, how could director Gary Ross deliver an appropriate rating to viewers of all ages? In the end, Ross struck an impressive balance, thanks in no small part to the casting of Lawrence. It’s difficult to emulate a character when most of her dialogue in the book is in her own head. Thankfully, Lawrence was able to encompass the demeanor and tendencies of Katniss through her actions.
The moment when Katniss volunteered as the female tribute in place of her younger sister – practically opting for a death sentence – was when viewers found someone to root for and the movie was able to find its footing. The Hunger Games was a mix of different sci-fi styles and really stood out during the titular annual event. Much of the movie is spent on Katniss and the rest of the Hunger Games tributes training ahead of the Games, providing a window into the other Districts and creating a sense of dread leading into the battle royale. The Hunger Games were then as intense and harrowing as imagined.
1 The Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Out of all the Hunger Games movies, Catching Fire is easily the strongest. Francis Lawrence kept all the great aspects of the first movie but amplified the energy and scale. The sequel was fast-paced, the stakes were higher, and the cast was even more stacked, with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Sam Claflin, Jeffrey Wright, and Jena Malone all joining. After Katniss and Peeta survived their first Hunger Games, they were swept right back into President Snow’s ploy with the Quarter Quell. The 75th-anniversary event forced previous victors to re-enter the impending Hunger Games.
The actual Hunger Games was even more breathtaking than the first movie. The arena this time around was a massive jungle with a saltwater lake in the middle. There was poisonous fog, there were killer monkeys, there were wicked lightning storms, and there were massive twists of allegiance. It’s also arguably the best movie in the franchise in terms of exploring Katniss and Peeta’s relationship, providing depth to their bond that carries through future installments. Catching Fire‘s cliffhanger ending may have been excruciating for audiences, but it definitely helped cement its status as the best of the Hunger Games mvoies.