Louis Is Not Buying The Hype of The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games is a movie based on the Suzanne Collins young adult book of the same name. Sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen lives in a totalitarian, post-apocalyptic world that once was the United States. Every year the city that runs the country, Capitol City, holds an event where one boy and one girl from each of the twelve districts are chosen to gather and fight to the death until there is only one survivor.
When it comes time for District 12 to choose, Katniss’ sister is picked and in a valiant effort to save her, Katniss volunteers to go in her stead as the Tribute to the Games. On the other side of the equation, Peeta Mellark is the boy chosen to accompany her, a baker’s son who has a connection to Katniss as he once gave her bread when her family was starving. With the Tributes chosen, Peeta and Katness set out to Capitol City and the so Hunger Games begins.
This much of the story takes an hour to get through and it is a rather long, tedious hour. The remainder of the film has similarly little to say and unfortunately takes a long time in saying it. Running at 2 hours and 20 minutes, it will definitely be loved by fans of the book (its target audience), but not much by anyone else.
If you are a fan of the books, then stop reading, this review is not for you.
There might be a strong desire to compare this to the Japanese Film Battle Royale as both have a similar central theme of youth being forced to fight to the death for the state. Let’s put that to rest and just simply state that this is the only similarity the two share. Battle Royale fully illustrates the brutality of a totalitarian state by quite literally making classmates kill one another whereas The Hunger Games is a light and fluffy PG take on it. Essentially, The Hunger Games ends up being an exploration of the emotions of a teen girl in a bad situation. In fact, I found the way she was portrayed a little demeaning rather than uplifting. For all the time they spend building her perceived uniqueness based on an inner strength, it is a boy who ends up helping to save her. She simply would not have survived without him and that is just weird considering the movie spent much of the first part showing her as a strong and independent girl. This comes as both a surprise and a shock.
At one point, there was a chance at a thought provoking look at living within a dictatorship. I understand director Gary Ross was striving to keep as close to the source material as they could, (even having original author Suzanne Collins help him write the script), but in the end, it just winds up being an incoherent mess.
Jumping from scene to scene, there is little to connect this manufactured world to the people who inhabit it. It ends up being more of a badly done French designers version of the future where all people are wearing haute couture and living in Nazi designed buildings. I suppose the idea is Capitol City is a utopia living off the work of the other districts, however none of the other districts are shown or really described throughout the movie except for District 12 which is painted to feel like a Depression Era Appalachia. The visual effects make matter worse by presenting us with just passable CGI coupled with the inability for the camera to hold still longer than just a few seconds. The camera simply does not sit still, either zooming in very close, swinging wildly or both creating a nausea-causing effect that serves no purpose and only makes worse a film that is already suffering from a poor script, silly dialogue, bad acting and very underwhelming action sequences.
Oh the action.
The action of the Hunger Games is painful to watch, as there seems to be very little understanding of battle tactics and survival (which in a movie like this is a little important). Taking place in some stretch of forest that Capitol City can control, even the ones trained to fight in this competition wander around aimlessly, haphazardly killing only when they happen upon someone. Instead of concentrating on how to strategically best the others in the competition, we find Katniss meandering around along with the rest of the cast. Not really showing any particular skill or aptitude beyond being able to shoot a bow, we are led to believe the people in this world somehow consider her special and unique.
And then there is the relationship between Peeta and Katniss, the centerpiece of the film. For the first half of the competition Peeta is helping a group track and kill Katniss, though it is never really clear why they need his help. And then implausibly, after she manages to gain the upper hand, she not only doesn’t kill Peeta, but convinces him to join her. A reason is never really given why she chose him as there were ample opportunities to kill other competitors whom she ignored and therefore didn’t really need him around. She mostly just ends up creating an unnecessary burden of taking care of him.
The cliché dialogue is made worse by young actors whom either can’t act or were poorly directed. They spend their time looking overly confused and void of the emotions they are supposed to be conveying.
This is a film one you needn’t bother to watch, though I suppose it would make laying on the couch full of cold medicine more interesting.