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Reviews Comments: Surprisingly Decent The Hunger Games film/book review by maninahat

First things first: I haven't read the books, and I hadn't a clue what I was about to watch. All I could garner from the trailers was that this was going to be another one of those generic, one-note dystopia stories; the kind which only exist in fiction, with societies based around an absurdly simple and obvious flaw. The Hunger Games is one of those movies, but that doesn't matter much.

Hunger may be set in a one-note, backwards police state with terrible dress sense and a silly obsession with blood sports, but this isn't the focus of the story. The fascists who hold the games, and indeed the games themselves, are just the framing device to provide an interesting, cruel scenario in which children have to deal with killing one another for survival. The film does a good job of that. It is well acted, convincing, and the sense of misery and desperation really comes across. You feel bad for these teenagers, and you wonder how they are going to get out of this horrible situation. You wonder how you would get out of it.

There are several elements that take you out of it, like the rubbish CGI, the obnoxious shaky-cam action, and the choice to make a bunch of the contestants into two-dimensional, jock, psychopathic assholes. That last one was especially annoying. If we are supposed to feel sorry for these kids, making most of them into unloveable jerks is counter-intuitive. Having contestants who were brainwashed into committing terrible acts would have been enough, but the film goes one step too far by showing them guffaw over dead twelve year olds. Only in the final showdown is one of the jocks given a chance to show his other side, but by then it is too little too late. You've already lumped them in with the fascist adults.

I've been talking a lot about the negatives, but in spite of the films various flaws, I would still recommend it. People are going to compare it to Battle Royale or whatever, but Hunger tells its own story. I would even go so far as to say it tells its own story far better.


  • Defbye
  • 11th Apr 12
Warning for long rant and Battle Royale comparisons (hey you started it).

First of all, I agree with everything you said (especially the thing about the two-dimensional villains and lame CGI) except for the part about Battle Royale.

I always felt that one thing the Battle Royale novel/manga did better than the both the novel and movie adaption of The Hunger Games (and its own movie adaption IMHO) was to actually make me care about the other contestants.

In Hunger Games they throw in 24 kids, but only around 5 of them are even named and two of them are psychopaths, leaving you with basically 3 characters to root for. Seeing as everything happens from Katniss first person perspective in the novel itís not that strange, I mean there is no reason she would know all the other tributes names and background, but that is also where the problem lies, in my opinion.

As things are now a bunch of kids die but I still find it hard for me to care all that much, because I donít know anything about them. I donít have a name or even a face, I donít know what their personality was, their dreams, friends or family, anything about their life before the Games, nothing. I can feel sorry about them for dying, but thatís pretty much it.

Meanwhile, the first thing Battle Royale does is to tell you the names of everyone in the class. Also itís being done in a third-person omniscient narrative so they can really delve into the characters thoughts and their relationship with each other. Scenes like the tender moment between Sakura and her boyfriend, also the girl who desperately tries to call her parents to come and save her and the odd sort of friendship between two guys who had nothing in common prior the program but ends up bonding over their shitty situation. Little things like that, helps to humanize them, I think, something THG just didnít do.

So yeah, I think Hunger Games does a few things better (creating a world for example - as improbable as it is) but I just feel that it lacks the emotional punch it could have. The only scene that really made me actually feel was the death of a certain character (you all know who). Other than that, I left the theater feeling sort of "it was pretty good". Not amazing, not bad, just... good. This is a bit sad really, because itís a movie about children forced to kill other children so I should be upset or angry, or sad, or provoked, but I just wasnít.

But then again, maybe I'm just coldhearted.

  • maninahat
  • 11th Apr 12
I'd say that their approaches were a little different, with Hunger focusing far more on the individual's (the protagonist's) journey; from before the games, to being slowly prepared for the games, and then finally, the taking part. Battle Royale (the film anyway, I haven't touched the literature) goes pretty quickly into the game, and takes a more broad approach. I think I prefered "Hunger's" more concentrated perspective, though it could have learnt a lot from Battle's cynical, yet humanising approach to the rest of the characters.
  • JackAlsworth
  • 11th Apr 12
According to the people I've talked to, the book goes a little deeper into humanizing the other tributes. I imagine they cut some of the side character-building scenes for time.
  • Defbye
  • 12th Apr 12
Well I agree with that. I do think Katniss is far more developed than any Battle Royale character (even among the main ones like Shuya). Hunger Games truly are all about Katnissí journey, unfortunately that leaves very little room for anyone else.

Battle Royale is the opposite. Here pretty much everyone gets at least some development and backstory, but no one really gets the same depth.

So we have two very different approaches here I suppose.

And I figured you were talking about the film version. I always felt that I was a good adaption but lots of things and characters were flanderized and rushed, unfortunately. Seeing as there are 42 students and the movie is less than 2 hours it leaves very little time for much development.

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