The Hunger Games (Gary Ross) 2012

Short review: The Hunger Games is the American version of Battle Royale.

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Okay, just had to quick piss off Hunger Games fans all over the Internet (I feed off of hate and tacos).  I’m sorry, I’ve had it explained to me like a student held after class but I guess I’m still too thick to see it.  Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a rip off or I’m not claiming any theft.  There are differences between the two stories. I’m just not seeing the vast differences Hunger Games fans see when they let out a frustrated groan and rattle off that I’m just trying to troll people.  But all that being said, I don’t see what the big deal would be if Hunger Games were actually a remake of BR for American audiences.  If the remake does it better than I don’t care if it does come second.  I loved The Departed even though Infernal Affairs came first (and is a great movie).

I was unsure of what to think of Hunger Games going in but I was won over by the end of it.  The storytelling is well done as we are immersed in this new world with a long history and we get to know it all.  I was surprised we go for almost half the movie before even starting the hunger games.  Up to that point we get to know the characters, the world, and everything around them.  It really pays off when we do get to the games because we know the stakes and we are invested in the characters.

On the flip side of the coin, I did feel there were some pacing issues.  As much as I was appreciating the info and the characterization, some times in the first and second act it felt like the movie was spinning its wheels.  I was frankly wondering if we were ever getting to the hunger games at a certain point because we spend too much time practicing and wooing sponsors; something which really isn’t paid off as well as I thought it would.  The sponsors do play into the story, but not to the extent you feel based on all the time they spend building it up.  I thought it would actually be a great movie if even 20 minutes were trimmed.

The look and feel of the setting is memorable and different, however at times it feels like they went a little overboard.  Showing the difference between the malnourished dirt poor underclass and the effete richies are one thing, but it spoiled the mood at times when a child is murdered and we cut back to Stanley Tucci in a blue wig or Elizabeth Banks doing a Lady Gaga impression.  Speaking of child murder let’s go to the PG-13 rating.

I completely understand why this movie is PG-13 however I do think it diminishes the movie in a few ways.  I personally believe having it be more violent would have upped the intensity and the horror of the situation.  Blood and gore do not make a movie necessarily better, but I do feel it can dimnish a movie by sterilizing the horror.  By definition, if you are making it PG-13, then you are saying it is not as bad for kids to see and thereby glossing over some of the consequences of the violent act.  However this isn’t a deal breaker for me.  As I said before, I get it.  While it may not be completely to my tastes this is made with the larger crowd in mind.  What frustrates me more is the shakey cam.  Again, I get they use shakey cam to cover up some of the more horrific elements and it is a stylistic thing.  I have said before I don’t immediately hate shakey cam (as I love the Bourne movies and the latest Batman movies) so when I say it is bad, to me it is horrible.  I don’t know what the fuck is going on and it feels like they put the cameral in a paint mixer while the action was happening.  At times I couldn’t look at the screen; not because of the horrific killings, but because I was getting a migrane.

Now to bring this back to the positive I will say one of the things which I like better about Hunger Games is the protagonist Katniss.  I thought the writer would make the mistake of making Katniss her Mary Sue in that she would be some unstoppable amazon who is absolutely perfect.  Katniss is an independent woman with good hunting skills, but she does get in trouble a few times and relies on other characters quite a bit to help her.  She has her challenges she has to overcome which is good for an effective story.  I thought Jennifer Lawrence was great since her first role in Winter’s Bone so it is nice to see her in what will be a strong franchise.

I really liked The Hunger Games by the end of it.  It did have some flaws with me such as the pacing, some of the story elements, and some of the directing choices.  However I think it succeeds overall in exactly what it set out for with the general audience.  I recommend this movie and I look forward to the eventual sequels for this series.

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