The Hunger Games Reviews
I wasn't least interested in going for it, but I'm glad that I did. I thought it would be just a version of Battle Royale, but there was much more entertainment in store than my expectations. The movie starts with a girl fearing to be chosen as a participant in The Hunger Games, and her nightmare turns real. But she has a brave elder sister willing to volunteer and save her sister from the probable negative consequences. Then begins the promotion of the game and the training, et al. It wasn't anything extraordinary, but the chemistry forming between Katniss and Peeta draws attention and keeps it going. Finally, I didn't find the game much exciting except for the very ending.
The film spends so much time with the exposition that the next two acts are rushed and ill-developed, specifically Peeta's history and motivations. The bread-in-the-rain flashback is shown quite a few times, but it's always the same. They could have elongated the memory to bolster its significance - shown the severity of Katniss' starvation, shown Peeta's intention of burning the bread so that he could gift it to Katniss, shown how that act of kindness saved her and her family's life.
Peeta's bravery, loyalty, and true love for Katniss (versus her complicated but necessary duplicity) don't come through at all. They could have shown Peeta actually fighting off Cato after the tracker jacker attack so that unfamiliar audiences wouldn't just think he's a milquetoast pretty boy. Instead of just the perfunctory filler about drunken Haymitch and a steely-eyed Katniss refusing to acknowledge her natural ally/enemy during their first official meeting, they could have shown Peeta trying to befriend Katniss, proving that everything he does in the Games - from playing to the Capitol crowd to teaming up with the Careers to his last defense of camouflage - is to ensure her survival. Also, as Katniss contemplates double suicide, Peeta in the book tries desperately to stop her by professing his love for her.
The costumes are glorious, and the settings are lush. All the actors are spot-on (although the actors who play Cato, Marvel, and Peeta all look too similar). Stanley Tucci is adorable and lively as the host. Amandla Stenberg's one perfect tear is perfect. J.Law covers all the bases from stalwart fierceness to pained vulnerability.
"The World Will Be Watching"
The Hunger Games looks like an accurate representation of societal life in the coming future. It's a more updated 1984 in some regards. This shows a society(ours) that has collapsed and now looks completely different. While the average people fight for survival on a daily basis, the top class(government and sellouts), can basically do whatever they want. Included in this is a barbaric cultural show, called "The Hunger Games." In these "Hunger Games", two teenagers between the age of 12-18 are picked from each of the twelve districts that now make up the land. From each district comes one girl and one boy.
Katniss is a young woman living in the twelfth district. When she goes to the reaping(the ceremony where the tributes are picked), and hears her younger sisters name called; she volunteers to go instead of her sister. The Hunger Games is a sort of government intimidation exercise in which only one of the twenty four tributes walks away alive. Now Katniss will be thrown into an arena where she must fight for her life, while the rest of the world watches on television.
This film was a whole lot better than I ever thought it would be. I'll admit to never reading the novels, as I tried to stay away from the books that teachers were peddling out to us to read throughout schooling. All I knew coming into the film was a rough synopsis of the events that were about to unfold and I believe that my lack of knowledge may have benefited me.
While I can't say anything along the lines of how good this is adaption wise, I'm pretty certain that it was a good one from the overwhelming approval for the film. For me not reading the book, the movie came across as engrossing and thoroughly intriguing and entertaining. Jennifer Lawrence is quickly becoming one of the best young actresses around also, so her presence does nothing but elevate the film even further.
The story primarily follows the exploits of Katniss Everdeen, the 16 year-old female from District 12 who volunteered in place of her younger sister as well as that of her fellow District 12 tribute Peeta, who has harbored a longstanding, though secret crush on her.
Many people went nuts for this due to similarities with Battle Royale. Well, it also has similarities to The Running Man among other things, but so what? I see this as less of a rip off and more like just another variation on a theme. It's got a lot to offer, too: thrilling survival story, social and political satire/commentary, and an unnerving concept.
Ad for the most part, this is all pretty successful. I never read the book, but it seemed like it was probably a decently faithful adaptation for the most part, though I'll admit I got the idea that a lot of things had to be glossed over or changed, such is the nature of adaptations. I can't say if that's totally a good thing, since I have no frame of reference, but once in a while the film did come off as lacking as a result, even though I ultimately got the gist of it all quite well.
The main thing that sticks out as far as changes is the violence. As a necessity of the PG-13 rating, the film does tone a lot of it down, with tons of quick edits, and lots of shaky cam, and only occasional spurts of blood from the more vicious moments. I'm a beliver that yes, sometimes less is more, but I think they probably could have gotten away with not downplaying the rougher stuff as much. I mostly take issue with the manner they go about censoring it. The shaky cam gets really distracting at times, but it's not just used during the action scenes. It's used for like at least 70% of the running time, which is a real problem given that it lasts 142 minutes.
It's really unnecessary for it to be there so much. I think director Gary Ross was just nervous about what he could get away with, and took the weaker way out, and that's a shame. It would have been far more effective with the camera staying still more often, letting the audience better focus on the bleakness of things.
Jennifer Lawrence scores another hit as Katniss, and this is further proof of her talents. Josh Hutcherson is kinda weak (acting wise) as Peeta, though I do like how they gender flip the damsel in distress situation. There's lots of notable names in the supporting cast such as an icy Donald Sutherland as President Snow, Wes Bentley (complete with cool beard) as the gamer runner, an outstanding Woody Harrelson as the only Hunger Games winner (turned alkie and mentor) from District 12, and the delightfully campy efforts from Stanley Tucci and, especially Elizabeth Banks.
Shakiness aside, the film does have a nice look (when it isn't so fidgety), the story and world building are compelling, the situation is neat, and the music is quite decent, too. All in all, this is overrated, but still pretty enjoyable. Give it a try.
Right from the very beginning, Ross' direction is taut. Smartly keeping the attention of a generation of YouTubers with quick cuts, while simultaneously acquainting the viewer with the emotional core of the film; Katniss and those of District 12. The reaping scene in particular is honestly astounding. One of the better sequences that I have seen from a film in 2012. The agony of silence haunts every frame, and even though we know that Katniss will somehow be drawn into these games, Ross still manages to generate a palpable tension by cutting from the faces of the those who are doomed to compete in these games, with close ups of the hands and the mouths, the instruments of terror, of those orchestrating the events.
The momentum began to wane in the second act however. The action sequences are well crafted, but cannot keep afloat what is dragged under water by a mediocre script. I also was unimpressed by Lawrence. I think she is a terrific actor, but I would not point to this film if I was trying to make a case for her.
Overall, the film succeeded in pointing me to Gary Ross' IMDB page in order to check out his other work. Unfortunately, it did little more than that.
Beautifully filmed and Jennifer Lawrence is fantastic. Definitely have to check out the next films and probably the books too.