I Just Watched "The Hunger Games" Movies For The First Time, And Here Are The 5 Things That Surprised Me Most

Confession: I've never watched any of The Hunger Games movies... until now.

I honestly don't have a good excuse for why it took me so long to check these movies out (and I know some might consider my actions criminal). But I must say that experiencing this saga for the first time through a 2023 lens was an interesting (...enjoyable, nail-biting, and anxiety-inducing...) experience. Plus, with the release of The Hunger Games: The Ballad of the Songbirds and Snakes, now was as good a time as any to check out the original Hunger GamesCatching FireMockingjay: Part 1, and Mockingjay: Part 2.

Here are my overall thoughts...

1.Holy cow, it's brutal!

Big-budget book-to-movie adaptations were all the rage when these movies started rolling out. The Hunger Games movies were inevitably grouped among the final installments of Harry Potter and Twilight. Listen, I can see why, as they all feature a fair share of fantastical elements, were based on bestsellers, and primarily targeted the same crowds — but boy, are they *different.* And what I wasn't expecting from this fan-favorite franchise was a healthy serving of violence. I mean, these movies are brutal, and they pull no punches when it comes to deaths. But also, what else should I have expected from a movie series centered around a game of killing other people? Oh, and for the record, this isn't a negative critique — just an observation.

2.The twists kept comin'...

Jennifer Lawrence in Hunger Games

3.Team Peeta vs. Team Gale.

I didn't go into the franchise expecting to pick a side between the two co-leading men, but a quick Google search will remind you that the Team Peeta vs. Team Gale debate was much talked about back in the day. I think this really only came to be because of Twilight's Team Jacob vs. Team Edward situation — which, in my opinion, was valid (I'm Team Edward, btw). But Team Peeta vs. Team Gale? In my eyes, it's not even a competition. Peeta, played wonderfully by Josh Hutcherson, is much more of a central figure than Liam Hemsworth's Gale. I mean, the franchise ultimately focuses on (a very brainwashed) Peeta's rescue from the Capitol and his eventual happy-ever-after with Katniss. Case closed.

4.This franchise is all about alliances.

From the collective of the rebellion to tactical game-play between Hunger Games competitors, this franchise would be worse off without the complexity of alliances. Not to mention, when you really think about it, the franchise's core came down to that initial alliance formed between Katniss and Peeta at the end of their first game. From there, a plethora of alliances were created and broken during the saga's run. Oh, the drama!

5.And Katniss really was *that girl* all along.

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss in hunger games