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Hunger Games Left Me Starving For Better Fare
Notes: I've read the first book and seen the movie. This review will also contain spoilers.

So. The Hunger Games, a.k.a. "the new Harry Potter". I'm sorry, but I just don't see it. I had to force myself to finish the book (and I'm a voracious reader - had the highest count of checked out books in my high school board's district library). Katniss is unrelatable for me. She's either petulant or bland, there's no middle ground. I ended up rooting for characters like Clove, Glimmer, Cato and Gale - at least they had some shades of depth to them! The writing style was very hard to work around (I've read books set in the present tense before, so it's not that).

I didn't go into the movie with high hopes, so I can't say whether I'm disappointed or grimly satisfied. Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss was underwhelming. She either had a blank, slack-jawed look on her face or a sullen glare. She did gain some points with me when she was allowed to act (during the Tracker Jacker sting scene when she screams at her mother), but other than that, it was a giant let-down (sort of a slightly-more-emotional Bella Swann, who I also strongly disliked). Josh Hutcherson was similarly awful, and the others mostly faded into the background (I actually rolled my eyes during Rue's death scene).

The camera work was terrible, too jittery and unfocused for viewers to actually see and understand what was going on. We barely got to know any of the tributes, so seeing them die didn't really matter on an emotional level. Our theatre was entirely silent throughtout the whole film - only my aunt's jumping when the "fauxtation" appeared out of the bushes reminded me that I wasn't watching it by myself.

There were some highlights, though, mainly the adult actors (and a few of the younger actors). They did the best with what they were given, which, sadly, wasn't much. Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, Liam Hemsworth, Isabelle Fuhrmann, Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci and Wes Bentley deserve kudos for their work.

Final score: 3/10

Will I Be Reading Any Of The Other Books/Seeing Any Of The Other Movies?: No.

Other Comments: Battle Royale did it first and better. Sorry.
I thought the film was... fair. It was a straight adaptation of the book for better or worse. Like the book, the first act was slow and all the characters were thin on the ground. I'll disagree with you on Josh Hutcherson though. He was really interesting: a genuinely nice, non-action guy in a tight spot. But that was because he got actual screen-time. The deal with Rue felt transparent and forced.

I liked the film but I'm not too keen on the prospective sequels. I gave away Catching Fire when I realized nothing was going to happen for 300 pages, and this is from a Robert Jordan reader.

I think the Hunger Games is far below in quality compared to Battle Royale. Not because they share a similar premise, but because Battle Royale executes the premise better. BR sticks to its premise and squeezes it for every drop it's worth. HG tries to move beyond its premise and moralize about it. You can't condemn the notion of child gladiators if that's the very appeal of the story in the first place. You can say it's bad but you can't preach to people for enjoying it.
comment #13837 morninglight 14th Apr 12
You can't condemn the notion of child gladiators if that's the very appeal of the story in the first place.

There is a HUGE difference between seeing real children killing each other and fictional children killing each other. Personally, I enjoyed this film but maybe I should see Battle Royale to see why some people say it does the whole premise better.
comment #13838 doctrainAUM 14th Apr 12
"battle royal"

if i had a nickel for everytiemk i heard that in a hunger games discussion...
comment #13860 RobbieRotten 17th Apr 12
And it was trying to do a very different thing. It's weird that they both managed to seemingly spawn completely identical set-ups independently and do such very different things with it.

With Battle Royale it's a Lord of the Flies examination of how easily humans fall apart with the bonds of society removed and the right pressure and undeniably the deaths are meant to be interesting/entertaining and sometimes even funny.

Whereas The Hunger Games is not about who humans really are in the arena, it's not that the behaviour is some emergent decayal of boundaries, but instead the idea is that the people in the arena are just people being people and the focus isn't on who the people in the arena are or what they will become, but the horror of the situation thrust on them from the people outside.

I mean morninglight, you're idea about condemning the notion of child galdiators is interesting because the appeal of the film isn't meant to be the child gladiators. In fact Collins says that what happened was she was flicking through channels and was watching a war report on the news amongst the gameshows/like and thought about how horrific it would be to mix them and have children in a war like situation. So in fact the whole purpose and attraction was the condemnation of child gladiators.

As I've said it is hard to see if there is an appeal to this film because the whole point is to cause discomfort in the viewers. The things complained about in the review are reflections of this, I think the shaky cam was very deliberately employed so that the deaths wouldn't be glorified in any way and we'd see it for the confusing mess it really would be if you were in this situation. I do not agree that Battle Royale did it better before because Battle Royale was trying to do something completely different. There have definitely been people who've been thrown simply because they didn't have a grasp of what this is and tried in their minds to shape it into something they could understand (I'm not talking about you, mainly Movie Bob and whoever writes the New York Times Art thing) but all the same I'm not going to argue that it makes the film worth seeing.
comment #13863 Tomwithnonumbers 17th Apr 12
Iím going to agree that I have some slight issues with Hunger Games moralizing tone for the same reason I hate You Bastard as a trope, because itís almost always a Broken Aesop. If Iím a bastard for watching a movie about fictional characters killing each other then what are the author/director/producer/studio behind it? They are the ones making a shitload of money off of it, they are the ones who promote the movie and hopes it does well so that they can make a sequel.

If we are like the capitol viewers, then they are the capitol regime, the game makers. So who is worse than the other really?

As for Battle Royale... Comparisons are inevitable as anything remotely similar these days are going to be compared to each other (any vampire novel/supernatural YA romance WILL be compared to Twilight for example).
comment #13864 Defbye 17th Apr 12 (edited by: Defbye)
What "shades of depth" were there to the Careers, in either the book or movie?
comment #21505 ading 13th Oct 13
You mean being raised from a child to compete and win in a competition which everyone around you tells you is a great honour, in order that your entire district can win enough food and wealth to not live in abject poverty?

The careers aren't to blame, they're just pawns of the system too, they've never known any other world view and this was exactly what the capitol wanted to happen to them
comment #21507 tomwithnonumbers 13th Oct 13
I agree that the biggest problem is that the characters don't have a huge amount of death. (I've only read/seen the first one, to be fair). Like Prim. We're told "Everyone loves Prim." This is why the district supposedly gives Katniss such respect fro volunteering. But we don't see anything about Prim that makes her so universally lovable. In fact, we know almost nothing about Prim as a person. We know she's Katniss's sister, that she has some talent as a healer, that... she has a goat.

Some of this is because it's written in first person, and Katniss doesn't seem to be the sort of character who really connects with people. Since we're see everything through her eyes, we, as readers, are unable to connect to anyone.
comment #21508 Terrie 13th Oct 13
Ack, that should be "depth" not "death."
comment #21509 Terrie 13th Oct 13
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