‘The Hunger Games’ should have been more.
I’m not here to crap all over the movie – which is by no means a bad film; just an average one – and because I haven’t read the teen book/s the film is based on (by Suzanne Collins) I can’t approach this from any adaptation point of view. I’m not the core audience for this movie, so immediately it’s harder to discuss it; but hey, the young adult teen lit audience is notoriously easy to please (i.e ‘Twilight,’ ‘Percy Jackson,’ ‘I Am Number Four’) – as long as it’s their favorite book on screen, it doesn’t matter how shitty the filmmaking is – they’ll still love it.
Now, ‘The Hunger Games’ does fall into this category; but it is a far from shitty film.
But it’s almost the theory of relativity in film form, for every positive reaction there’s a negative reaction:
1) For every great female character, there are two bad ones.
2) For every good story beat, there’s horrible camerawork.
And so forth, no need to go on forever.
A lot has been made about the story of ‘The Hunger Games’ too closely resembling the Asian classic film ‘Battle Royale.’ I don’t think the films story is exactly that film – well the same way that I don’t think ‘Battleship’ looks like ‘Transformers.’ The problem is no-one is being upfront about ‘Battle Royale’ [probably] being the inspiration for ‘The Hunger Games.’ After the screening I attended, there was much talk made about how ‘Battle Royale’ was an old story anyway, and how there were even stories such as ‘The Running Man’ that proceeded them.
Take into consideration that ‘Battle Royale’ spun the concept of a “last man standing reality show” scenario: into a “last CHILD standing reality show” – even with pre teenagers.
‘The Hunger Games’ features this ‘last child standing’ reality show, and anyone who has seen ‘Battle Royale’ will feel the similarities. But it’s just that little bit different; that it is really hard to be sure if its a rip off, or just coincidence: a ‘Deep Impact’ / ‘Armageddon’ type scenario. I doubt that. Regardless, none of this would be an issue if they had simply said: “hey, yeah we love ‘Battle Royale’ and we wanted to pay homage.
So you’ve got an entertaining, fun storyline; that borrows heavily from other material (Whether that be ‘Battle Royale’ or ‘The Running Man’ or whatever) – You’ve still got a fun, engaging ride, that although it has many many problems (which we’ll get into) – there is a lot to like; some sequences are effective in the tension, some of the emotion is honest, the action has a couple of good bits (like a mine bomb sequence). There are some really great elements actually. And before we get into it; I just want to say that the movie made me want to read the book, irregardless of how much it supposedly rips off ‘Battle Royale.’
To me, the ‘Battle Royale’ thing wasn’t even a big deal. It would have been fine if ‘The Hunger Games’ relied on something else, and it tries to, but none of the elements really rise up into anything great. Actors like Jennifer Lawrence, Stanley Tucci and Woody Harrelson are the highlights, doing great work.
Jennifer Lawrence proves she has what it takes. Carrying the movie completely. Her character is almost (I didn’t say completely) empty on the page, but Lawrence brings subtlety and nuance to the role; that it actually has depth; like what she’ll do with a hand hold, or a glance. She makes you feel that there is something else in Katnis Everdeen’s mind other than “I have to kill to win so I can see my Sister again.’ So kudos to her, because there is nothing else in the film to go by really, other than ?she can shoot a bow, or she hates being poor.
But you end the movie how you start it: by knowing next to nothing (again I didn’t say completely nothing) about the characters besides the situation they are in. It’s very superficial, and maybe it is that I didn’t read the book (Suzanne Collins can’t be held responsible for the movie so I won’t blame her) but ultimately I ask – did ‘The Hunger Games’ need to be made into a movie? If you’re answer is ‘Yes’ than you probably shouldn’t read onwards. I’m just going to criticize aspects of the filmmaking; the storyline and the characters weren’t bad, it’s just the film’s mechanics that really let the source material down. So if you’re a fan, go and see it and make up your own mind.
Hello continuing readers! So we have a massively successful book turned into a movie again! But I ask why, because it seems no-one on ‘The Hunger Games’ gave a shit about how it would look.
So much of the film feels like a cynical exercise: it looks cheap; the camerawork is unbearable – I don’t want to spend much time on this, because if you don’t have anything good to say then don’t say anything; but ‘The Hunger Games’ might feature the worst cinematography that I’ve seen in a decade (in a cinema). In fact it might be a core reason for the film’s failure: it’s very difficult (if not sometimes impossible) to discern where you are in a scene and how far the characters are from others. You can’t even tell how big the playing field is. It’s all the same generic bushland, and the majority of the film is shot in rubbish handheld close-ups. You want to shout “USE A WIDE SHOT!” It’s astonishing how awful the work is; it’s lit like hell, and it’s messy. The editing is off. It’s just lazy I guess – I hate calling filmmakers ‘inept’ so I won’t, I’ll just say lazy.
This is such a huge problem because ‘The Hunger Games’ is an adaptation made specifically for the fans (I can’t see it any other way, let me know if I’m wrong on this). The story exists in the book, so the only reason fans (who are the core audience) would want to see the film is to see there favorite story realized. I just wonder how many people are going to be pissed off when they find out the execution is woeful.
It’s sad too, because the cast is quite good, the screenplay is not great; but it does the job in its own predictable/trite way.
“The Hunger Games’ is not woeful, it’s not bad even. It’s just really average, and that’s made more of a shame because if it had been shot halfway decently we could have had a decent franchise for the ‘Twilight’ generation.
As it stands I celebrate the movie for its kick-ass main character. I hope ‘The Hunger Games’ does well, because it’ll help to erase a bit of the damage ‘Twilight’ has done to the self-esteem/self-expectation of young girls. I say a bit- as not much can erase the full damage of ‘Twilight’ – the fallout from that shit is here to stay. To linger…
Here’s the trailer: