Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Hunger Games

By Sati. Sunday, March 25, 2012 , , , , , , , ,
35/100 (142 min, 2011)
Plot: Set in a future where the Capitol selects a boy and girl from the twelve districts to fight to the death on live television, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister's place for the latest match.
Director: Gary Ross
Writers: Gary Ross (screenplay), Suzanne Collins (screenplay, novel)
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth
 
Please, let the games stop.

In a not-too-distant future, North America has collapsed to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the rich Capitol and poor 12 districts. Each year two young representatives - one male and one female - from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. The 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors with all citizens required to watch.

From the very first minutes "The Hunger Games" feels messy and it only becomes worse and worse as it progresses - you wait for the games to begin for and hour and when they do, they feel like action scenes shot for a TV movie with cheesy explosions, people running around the woods and horrid editing adorning all of it. The world the story takes place in, didn't engage me. The characters, so underdeveloped, didn't interest me. Say what you want about Jacob and Edward in Twilight - even comparing to those two male characters in "The Hunger Games" are so bland that if actors playing them are not nominated for Razzies this year, I'll be truly shocked.
Love triangle? Check. Poor animal running away from the proximity of death in the prologue? Check. Teenage heroine which is supposed to be different than all the other girls in the film? Check. Good actress playing her wasting her time? Check. Annoying supporting teenage characters? Check. Sounds familiar?

We follow Katniss, who steps up to protect her sister, whose name is of course selected as a contender. Since the little sister is horrified, as she is repeatedly in the movie which the actress playing her portrays through her annoying screaming and sobbing, Katniss waves her hands and yells she volunteers thus becoming a contender in titular Hunger Games - fight to death between teenagers in a merciless world, where their battles are broadcast for the enjoyment of the public. I really didn't care about any of these people getting slaughtered, nor apparently I should have since nobody bothered to give them any back story. The logic of the games themselves escapes me too - so there are 12 poor Districts and the one that is victorious wins the prize. Wouldn't the people from other districts raise against the one that is victorious? How is hosting games helping anything? What am I missing?
The universe the movie establishes isn't anything special unless people running around in Capitol looking as if they were aspiring to be Harajuku girls and Marie Antoinette simultaneously sounds interesting to you. The pacing is awful - for the first hour of the movie really, if anything is happening it failed to engage me. The script is bad and I honestly do not have any desire to read the books it is based on - the story just seems silly. Any "controversial" aspect to it as for reality shows going too far is honestly outdated - it is an old issue and I think we have much more serious problems to worry about than that. The only threat from reality shows nowadays is that they are infecting people with stupidity. However seeing movies like this one being made, perhaps the threat is much more dangerous than I thought initially.

The main heroine Katniss is brave and noble, as we are told on the back of the flayers that promotes the movie. There are two boys in her life - one she leaves in her district who is clearly saddened by the fact she may die - that is shown through a quick and so very profound scene where he sits on the hill, staring at the horizon, ah the angst! The other is irritating little prick who is the fellow contender in the game. Oh Good Lord, which one will Katniss choose? Romeo or the wuss?
Jennifer Lawrence delivers decent work, certainly better than her feeble efforts in last year's "X Men First Class". It's also nice to have someone who looks like ordinary person playing an action heroine - Lawrence is neither beautiful nor skinny. If you saw her on the street, you wouldn't turn your head to look again. And when she is running around in this movie, at least you're not afraid she will trip and break into thousand pieces due to anorexia.

There are many recognizable actors in this one - Wes Bentley and Elizabeth Banks continue to embarrass themselves and Stanley Tucci and Woody Harrelsson clearly need money because I can see no other reason for being in this film - Harrelson is by the way the only one except for Lawrence who manages to create an actual performance in this film. And then there are the actors who partner Lawrence as her fellow contenders and two who play her love interests, well let's just say I won't even bother to learn their names.I was shocked to notice on the imdb cast listing that Isabelle Fuhrman was in it. I completely didn't recognize her, but I should have suspected it was her, given that she played the only one of Katniss's enemies that was actually memorable.
Apparently the story is based on only one book from the trilogy and given how the movie earned 150 million dollars during its opening weekend in US, I'm sure we will have to endure two more. Unbelievable, that this premieres the same weekend in my country, but I'm gonna have to wait 6 weeks for "Prometheus". By the way the movie may have earned that much but about half of the theatre I've been in it became empty near the end of the movie, because during its run time so many people waked out.

And had it not been a trilogy but a single movie let me tell you, if the ending was changed I'd collapse. Had they eaten those berries and died I would be shocked and throw in 20 points to the grade. But as with the ferries not exploding in "The Dark Knight", everybody is happy, nobody decent dies in the end and God bless America. What's more shocking than the box office numbers and all those favorable reviews is that this movie is written and directed by Gary Ross, who fourteen years ago made wonderful "Pleasantville". How the mighty have fallen.
You would think that in the movie so well advertised and being sold as sci-fi at least the visuals will be good. Not the case. Also if you think the shaky camera in the games is bad just wait until Katniss starts to hallucinate.  There are humorous moments in the movie, but the only one that made me laugh was unintentional. It was when Katniss and the wuss arrive to be presented as the contenders in the chariot, wearing costumes that look like an aborted fetus from the unholy union of "Star Wars" and "Dune" and they have wings made out of flames. Wow. So ridiculous.

What did I like? Well, apart from Lawrence and Harrelson I liked the music. That's it. The film is as clumsy and as much of a waste of time as "In Time" I saw few weeks ago. All I can say, don't buy into the hype, watch it on DVD as I initially planned and should have just wait and do so, because that way I'd be able to fast forward through this mess.

45 comments:

  1. Ooh. Sorry you didn't like this Sati.

    Surprisingly, I enjoyed it a lot. I liked the fact that Katniss was a strong and likeable lead female character - and Lawrence was excellent - and I embraced the world they set up.

    The Capitol was vibrant and there were colourful characters (Harrelson, Tucci esp) introduced along the way. The games themselves were a bit of a let down, and I found the hand-held to be very disappointing, but overall, they had tension and emotionally hit the mark for me.

    Also, the politics of the world - the barbarism of the televised violence etc. was well relayed. I dunno, it is no Twilight that's for sure - and I didn't think the love triangle was a big deal here - maybe in future.

    I understand all of your points, but I actually enjoyed it more than most blockbusters from 2011.

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    1. I thought the whole thing with the love triangle was weird - they set it up and like with most of the things in the movie it was as if they were saying "oh, read the book or wait for the other parts of the film for it to be developed". I really don't like such approach I think every movie, even if it was just a first of the series, should be satisfying as a stand alone film.

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    2. That's a very valid desire, and one that I also feel strongly about. I had questions at the end of the film - and my friend informed me that the answers were in the novel. I think the film would be considered a great companion to the novel, but I don't think the holes were serious enough to detract too much from it being a solid stand-alone film. The 'Anonymous' comments below are very odd indeed. I mean I liked it, but Oscar chances...umm no.

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    3. I think at the very least the movie if it really relied on the novel as much as I think should make me want to read it, but it didn't. The talk about Oscar noms is all over imdb, I find it ridiculous. Maybe if the movie premiered in the fall, it would have a shot in technical categories, but I don't think it has much chance with as things are.

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  2. Good review, but I think you are being a little too harsh and dissmisive of the movie! Still, it's your opinion and I respect it, plus I do get where you're coming from with the comments!:)

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    1. Thanks! I tend to be harsh when I pay for a ticket and end up being bored and unengaged :)

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    2. Diana, THIS is how you shit on a movie. Damn, Sati... damn. (Loved the review, by the way.)

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    3. Haha :D Yeah, you took it easy on the film comparing to me ^^

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  3. Wow, I really disagree with you. I liked this movie a lot!

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  4. Well, I'm glad you did, but I was one of the few, who didn't I guess :)

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  5. Hum... you are the first critic who gave a very bad review! You clearly know nothing about cinema and good movie sorry. It's a wonderful movie and every critics I read said that this movie will have a lot of Oscar nominations. Bad for you if you can't see what's real cinema

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    1. And you clearly do not know what GRAMMAR is.

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    2. Oh my god....people like 'Anonymous' here are real....

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    3. Certainly, I've been called c*** so many times in the comments for my reviews that a little "you have no idea about movies" comment really makes no impression anymore :)

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    4. Haha... Sati, you know you're a successful blogger/critic when you get these anonymous people bashing you. I enjoyed this movie as a whole, but unlike anonymous can accept people having a different view. BTW anonymous, no one says a movie will get a lot of Oscars nominations when it is only March

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    5. Ah, Anonymous, you weak and cowardly being.

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    6. Haha :) Yeah, yeah my friends always tell me the best things cause people to throw insults and go insane :)

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    7. Hey Anonymous, loosen up your right hand (or left, as it were), because I'd like you to go fuck yourself. Thanks.

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  6. Haven't seen it yet, but I have been hearing a lot of mixed reviews surprisingly. I have read the books, and definitely think it's a world above the 'other' teen franchise that's been getting far too much praise....haha. I've had friends tell me that they didn't enjoy the shaky cam footage, but liked the movie as a whole. I'll get back to you when I've seen it :) Great review though!

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    1. Thanks! I have no doubt the whole universe is better set up in the books. It's a good idea for a story, for me it simply didn't work out in the film.

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    2. Okay, just saw it, actually found it quite enjoyable, haha. Shaky cam was definitely used way too much, especially in the first half, and emotional I didn't connect as much as I think they wanted us too, but I felt it was a pretty good film overall!

      I liked the music too :P

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    3. The music was a highlight for me, it was very good. I'm glad you enjoyed the movie!

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  7. hmmm....well i have to say, i disagree with you about many things. i was very engaged in the movie and did appreciate the action scenes as much as i did the non-action scenes. both seemed real to me. the only thing i didn't love was that some of the flashbacks assumed the audience read the books and didn't offer enough information. and i loved the wildness of the characters and the styling. i think that the whole set up was wickedly engaging and very well-written. also, i like plesantville too, and though this was another good movie from the same director.

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    1. Maybe it's just not my cup of tea, well I'm sure it isn't. For me it takes a strong script or at least an attempt to make a satire or a cheesy movie to make enjoyable movie about teens and this one didn't have those elements.

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  8. Ohhhhhh buuuuuurrnn.

    I feel bad for liking it now :(

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    1. You shouldn't! It's a good thing you enjoyed it at least you didn't ahve a feeling you wasted your time and money.

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  9. Hi Sati, I am sorry you didn't get as much from this film as I did.

    A great case is made here though, and it is alway nice to see the other side of the coin!

    Thanks,

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    1. Thank you! Is your review up yet? I'm gonna check the site tonight ^^

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  10. The film doesn't really get going until they actually do get to The Hunger Games, but when it does get started up its entertaining, tense, unpredictable, and very well executed from Gary Ross. I also couldn't believe that this was his 3rd film after other flicks such as Seabiscuit and Pleasantville, which are both good but are different from this one. Still though, great jobs from everybody involved and I cannot wait for the sequel. Good review Sati.

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    1. I think Pleasantville remains his best work, it's such a charming movie.

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  11. Shame! I loved it but it's difficult to say how I would have felt if I hadn't read the book. It's impossible for me to seperate the book and film and I just enjoyed seeing the characters up on screen. Guess you're not desperate for the sequel then.

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    1. I'm sure they will make it, but I won't watch it :)

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  12. I'm glad you weren't scared to post your opinion of it! I've read the book and found it to be a worthy adaptation of the novel. Saying that it's worthy of the novel might even scare you at this point! The characters were underdeveloped, but they did what they could with the time that they had. I wasn't expecting much more than what I got, but I could see where you'd be disappointed.

    One thing though, I really liked Stanley Tucci as Caesar in this.

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    1. The day I get scared of posting one review may as well be the day I stop writing all together :)

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  13. I had to split this in two, since it was so long. Sorry.

    I hated the shakycam in the movie, but that's the worst thing I have to say about it.

    To answer some of your questions/respond to some of your statements:

    1. "those two male characters in "The Hunger Games" are so bland"

    I agree with this. They changed this from the book. Gale (the guy at home) probably has less than 5 minutes face time in the whole movie. They cut out his entire backstory and relationship with Katniss. As for Hutcherson, he was miscast as Peeta. Peeta is supposed to be this big, beefy guy who knows how to play up the romance aspect for the TV audience. He's also a lot more "manly", for lack of a better term, in the book. The filmmakers apparently didn't want to take attention away from Katniss by having a man save her a couple of times, like what happens in the book. It was more balanced - they each save each other, instead of her only saving his ass a few times.

    2. "I really didn't care about any of these people getting slaughtered, nor apparently I should have since nobody bothered to give them any back story."

    Once again, their stories, although nowhere near as extensive as Gale's, got cut during the book to movie transition. I was a little disappointed that they didn't spend more time showing why some of the other tributes were surviving, especially Foxface (the really smart girl).

    3. "The logic of the games themselves escapes me too - so there are 12 poor Districts and the one that is victorious wins the prize. Wouldn't the people from other districts raise against the one that is victorious? How is hosting games helping anything? What am I missing?"

    Sorry, but the answer is you missed pretty much the whole movie. The districts don't get anything. It's only the person who wins the games. He/she gets a life of luxury. The districts only get the honor of saying the latest winner came from there. There is no rising up against each other because there is nothing to gain. Also, the authoritarian central government keeps all the districts in line anyway. One of the ways they do this is by forcing the districts to participate in the Games, which are always held in the Capitol.

    4. "The script is bad and I honestly do not have any desire to read the books it is based on - the story just seems silly."

    Honestly, the things that got lost from book to screen seem to be the very things you were hoping to see. The solution IS to read the book, at least the first one.

    5. "Oh Good Lord, which one will Katniss choose? Romeo or the wuss?"

    This actually is one of the things that didn't translate well. Katniss doesn't love either of them. Gale probably has feelings for her, but anything showing that was cut, and Katniss is only pretending to have feelings for Peeta at Haymitch's orders to be a more likable competitor. That's not to say the second and third books didn't play up a triangle a lot more. They do.

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    1. The film is the separate medium from the book. "Lord of the Rings" is an excellent movie, because it doesn't require you to read it, in order to enjoy it, but it still encourages you to do read it. This is just a mess. And they got nothing? Then the games were even more pointless that I thought if only one person wins and the district gets noting.

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  14. Part 2:

    6. "Jennifer Lawrence delivers decent work, certainly better than her feeble efforts in last year's "X Men First Class"."

    I liked First Class quite a bit, and didn't feel Lawrence was bad in it.

    7. "Lawrence is neither beautiful nor skinny. If you saw her on the street, you wouldn't turn your head to look again."

    I'm sorry, but speaking for the billions of heterosexual males on this planet, you could not be more wrong. She is very beautiful and sexy, and would most definitely turn heads. Part of the reason she is sexy is precisely because she's not a twig. She's got some serious curves.

    8. "I'm sure we will have to endure two more."

    Three more, actually. They are going to do the same money grab that Harry Potter and Twilight did and split the final book into two movies, even though it is no thicker than the first two.

    9. "What's more shocking than the box office numbers and all those favorable reviews is that this movie is written and directed by Gary Ross, who fourteen years ago made wonderful "Pleasantville".

    I agree with this statement, but not because I disliked the movie, but because I can't believe the same guy who did Pleasantville used the crappy shakycam in this movie.

    10. "You would think that in the movie so well advertised and being sold as sci-fi at least the visuals will be good."

    The problem is that so many films are "sci-fi" and not "science fiction". Sci-fi is usually only about visuals - weird aliens, cute aliens, space ships, etc. Science fiction is actually about concepts, which this is. Admittedly, they did downplay these concepts in the movie, but they are more front and center in the book.

    11. "watch it on DVD as I initially planned and should have just wait and do so, because that way I'd be able to fast forward through this mess."

    I'm not sure why, if the movie was so bad, you'd even be recommending people see it on DVD. I'd make the same recommendation to those people who don't like shakycam. See it on your TV where the effect is lessened.

    In case you are wondering, I felt this movie could have been truly great, but the shakycam killed large sections of it.

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    1. I'm not recommending to see the movie, but if somebody has to do so they shouldn't spend money on seeing it in the cinemas. And as for Lawrence looks, it's a question of taste and also of a simple observation. There are tons of threads about her being chubby opr fat all over internet. I think it's lovely she is not skinny, but I would not call her beautiful. And I do not see men drooling for her as they do say for Angelina Jolie or Jessica Alba, so I do believe the billions comment is an exaggeration :)

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    2. First, it was extremely presumptious of me to attempt to speak for all straight men on the planet. You are correct. I was just so amazed by the comment that no one would give her a second look that I over-reacted.

      Second, if you track back the people who are posting most of those comments (on IMDB anyway), you will find they tend to fall into one of three groups: females, gay males, trolls who are just trying to provoke fans of the film/actress. You can find "she's ugly" posts on EVERY actress' comment board on IMDB.

      Frankly, there are very, very few actresses working today who are not beautiful. Men get given more of a break, but there are a ton of good looking actors, too, judging from the comments. Also, notice how there are far fewer "he's ugly" posts on IMDB on movie/actor boards. That's because two of the three main groups who make the posts on actress' boards are attracted to the actors.

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  15. I think it could possibly be the most epic made-for-TV movie ever. It's oddly low-budget and flat. I've read the books and I was ultimately disappointed, though my review is much more positive than this one.

    And that's why I liked reading yours so much!

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  16. The lack of violence I was okay with, and the survival in the forest was exciting enough, even though the shaky camera you mention made me a bit dizzy, and it was obvious after 10 minutes what would happen. The berries scene was unsuspenseful for me, the authour would never kill her characters off with the chance to make sequels! I'd give it a 6 or 7 out of 10.

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    1. Yeah it was one of the most unsuspensful scenes I saw that were meant to be the opposite.

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  17. Wow! Finally a review I completely agree with! I thought everyone went crazy for the Hunger Games and completely forgot about all the aspects that make a good film. I agree with every single thing you say (well, maybe apart from the fact that to me Lawrence did not try hard enough). I haven't read the book, but I like the trailer and I was preparing myself for some new American version of Battle Royal. Everyone was telling me how the Hunger Games is edgy and so not like Twilight and the only thing I saw was...well, exactly what you saw.
    Here is my review http://www.midnightreview.co.uk/2012/03/20/the-hunger-games/
    your blog is wonderful

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    1. Thank you! Nice to see not everyone went mad for this one ^^

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