I take all forms of entertainment (video games, films, books, TV shows, comics, etc.) and review it for the delight of the readers of this blog.
The Hunger Games (film) ReviewApril 11th, 2012 at Wed, 11th, 2012 at 1:55 pm by andrewnisargand
I’m just going to say this now to save myself some time, I have not read the books. I am reviewing this film from the perspective of someone who has not experienced the books. And I recognize that the view I take is at least partially unfair, it would be like reviewing Harry Potter without having read the books. However, my opinion on this is simple. If it is the first in a franchise that is being adapted to film, it is acceptable to see it and not actually read the books in advance. Getting back on topic then…I never actually even heard of The Hunger Games until the trailers for the film came out, I guess I’m just too old. Or at least I act like I’m older than I am. I mostly just don’t understand why 20 year olds are seeing films based on young adult books. It’s the same reason why I don’t understand the Harry Potter franchise. But I digress.
The Hunger Games takes place in a dystopian future, in a nation known as Panem. As punishment for a past rebellion, the capital initiates what are known as The Hunger Games which takes a girl and boy from each one of the twelve districts and has all 24 combatants fight to the death in an arena until one remains. The event is televised and from here begins the part that interested me the most. The audience can send supplies to the combatants. That’s right, the more popular you are on the “show”, the more support you can get. Throws an interesting wrench into the usual archetype of deathmatch brawls doesn’t it? Anyway, from here we meet Katniss Everdeen, from District 12, as she volunteers to take the place of her younger sister after she gets chosen to compete. A boy gets chosen, obviously, and they both head out to the capital. The set up itself, is rather intriguing as I find the whole deathmatch archetype to be extremely interesting, however, they do spend an annoying amount of time focused on the actual introduction. Once again it is necessary, being that this is bound to be part of a series, but I found myself somewhat frustrated.
The design is something I rarely talk about but I feel it’s quite necessary here. I actually really love the design of the movie. We first see the poorer class in the districts obviously and it reminds one of a town from the early 1800s then, BAM Elizabeth Banks’ character shows up and looks just completely alien. The fact is that the way the design of the movie goes, color seems to be reserved specifically for denizens of the capital. Not only that but the design decides to go straight up bizarre with their clothing style. It looks great in my opinion, especially when contrasted with the rather normal looking combatants. Also I happen to love me a decent looking futuristic city. So there’s that too.
The acting is quite good actually. I say actually because at this point I am generally used to the first movie in the series not really having that good of acting from the main stars. But once again, these aren’t child actors like the Harry Potter series so they do wonderfully. The characters are very interesting and the writing is overall excellent. Katniss is easily the most interesting protagonist in the young adult genre in a long time in my opinion as she clearly has the smarts and the skill to stay alive unlike some chosen one stuff like in Star Wars or others. Peeta on the other hand, while intelligent, managed to just bore me. And that feeling applies to a lot of the younger actors. Either the parts themselves are rather two dimensional in the books which, after hearing some of the things left out of the movie, I rather doubt. Or the actors just aren’t that amazing. The great actors are the older cast. They manage to truly sell this futuristic world which, considering the set up, is quite a feat. Hell, just looking at the names you can figure out why. Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci and so on. Also, Lenny Kravitz is in this. Yeah that threw me off too.
The action is the one thing that really will not stop bothering me though. Here’s my general opinion, in a deathmatch archetype movie like say Battle Royale, Death Race, the book that I’m writing…forget I just said that. Anyway, you’re supposed to be able to not count the main character as an instant winner. In my opinion it just makes it boring if there’s a guaranteed win in their hands. A deathmatch story is supposed to cover other people and not really have a main character that way everyone can be a target. And I have got to say, I knew she and Peeta were going to win. I never even had a doubt in my mind. I know the whole star-crossed lover thing was in their favor and they were probably going to go for the Romeo and Juliet thing at the end but honestly it just seemed…forced. And I do recognize this is a movie for a younger audience, so asking for it to show grit would probably be out of place but the whole thing seemed so…defanged. Even the actual action didn’t seem to carry that much weight. Sigh. I really am getting old.
I did hear, pretty consistently, from the people I went to go see this with as well as friends of mine that the movie did not follow the storyline exactly. Pieces were missing, certain sections were replaced that could have gone better and I find that interesting. After hearing some of the parts that I missed by not reading the book I realized a lot of my complaints would have likely be satisfied. For one example, Katniss apparently suffers incredibly bad dehydration before finding water, almost dying in the process. That would have certainly made it seem a lot more survival based rather than suffering from main character syndrome (somehow managing to survive despite stupidly impossible odds. Just think of every storm trooper missing when firing at Luke, Leia and Han). I would have actually felt that syndrome disappear a little if the dehydration thing came up. Also, a few fights were missing, the narration was also gone (although that was obviously a stylistic choice, I see how they could have worked it in) and the list goes on. Once again, I can only review what I saw, but I thought I would mention these complaints.
So how is the movie in general? The acting is great, the design is shockingly good, the writing is interesting and the plot is intriguing. And yet I still can’t give it higher than a 3. Why? Well…I just couldn’t latch onto the movie. I don’t know why. It did everything right and yet struck me as so…boring. Once again though, I’m a different person than the target audience here. There’s a high chance that I didn’t like it simply because it wasn’t aimed at my age group. And I can openly accept that. I can’t give it higher than a 3 because I just didn’t care and I can’t give it a 2 because it did everything so well. So there’s my final judgement everyone, if you like the series, you probably already saw it by this point and if you haven’t heard of it like myself, try reading the first book then go see this. And if you’re a fan of more violent movies when it comes to the deathmatch subgenre…don’t bother. Just go watch Cabin in the Woods or something to burn some time. I’m giving The Hunger Games a 3 out of 5.