Tuesday 4 September 2012

Whinge, whinge, whinge. Me, me, me.

Imagine, if you will, the following film.

It's a Second World War film. It starts with our "hero" Ken realising that his best friend Peter is being held prisoner by the Nazis. "Woe is me!" says Ken, a lot. "My best friend Peter is in the clutches of the evil Nazis! Alas! Alas! I shall alternate between crying and sulking for the duration of this film!" He then alternates between crying and sulking and telling us why he's crying and sulking for most of the film. We hear reports of the War raging elsewhere, while Ken listens to these reports while moping around and whining. Then he cries about how he misses Peter.

At some point, Winston Churchill himself intervenes. He authorises a mission to send a crack team of commandos into Berlin itself to rescue Peter. "Yes, it's dangerous," he says; "yes, it's counterproductive to the greater war effort; yes, there are thousands of POWs and we're only rescuing one of them; yes, dozens of these brave men will probably die on the mission. But, by God, it'll be worth it if it'll stop Ken whining." You see, most of the people of Britain look up to Ken because he won a fight once, and it is therefore absolutely vital for the war effort that Ken be induced to stop his self-involved whining, because then the entire country will get better at fighting for some reason.

So, this dangerous mission goes ahead. "Aha!" you might well think. "At last, some on-sceen action!" Don't be so silly. We're not going to watch the dangerous and exciting rescue mission; we're going to watch Ken moping and whining while other people go on the rescue mission. When they get back, they tell Ken about it, but not in any detail.

Anyway, at least Peter's back. Oh, hang on: he's got nasty psychological damage from being tortured by the evil Nazis, so — did you see it coming? — Ken does some more sulking and whining. A lot more.

Now, you might well be thinking that it would be a bad idea for me to pitch this idea to a major Hollywood studio, on the grounds that it is clearly the worst film ever and no-one in their right mind would waste time making it. And you would be dead wrong, because change the names and the setting and what you have there is a synopsis of the huge international bestseller Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, and not only are Lionsgate already planning it, but they think it's so good they're going to make it a two-parter. There probably isn't enough room in just one film for all the whining.

For the record, I loved the first two Hunger Games books: great stories — so great, in fact, that their greatness outweighed the shamefully shoddy writing. But the third book is all shoddiness, no greatness. Suzanne Collins had some great ideas and insights about reality TV. War and revolution, not so much. In fact, when she tries to write about full-scale war, she still ends up writing about TV programs, which is a large part of the problem. That, and did I mention her protagonist's relentless whining?

When the third film is released, I shall be eagerly looking out for fans moaning about how the bastard filmmakers have wrecked the book. That I would take as a good sign. But, if it's faithful to the book... well, see above.