Monday, March 26, 2012

Quick Review of The Hunger Games

So I saw the movie on Sunday. There was a scheduled showing every 10 minutes from 2:50 to 3:40 when I arrived, and everything was sold out by 3:00 except the 3:20, which was almost full by the time I sat down. I don't think in the last 10 years, I've gone to the movies on a Sunday afternoon and seen that place so completely mobbed. No wonder THG hit one of the highest weekend grosses of all time.

I've not read the books, but I wasn't the least bit confused by the background and plot of the film. If you've watched a number of other "Most Dangerous Game" styled movies, you can push the fiddly bits aside and watch teenagers hunt and kill each other for sport. About that - I didn't have any problem with what I saw, and I would have been willing to take a kid (if I had one) to see this movie if they were old enough to read and fully comprehend the book. I've seen people who claim they wouldn't even let 15-year olds see the movie. What reality are these parents living in? I've no idea. I was reading Vietnam memoirs in grade school, so maybe it's just me.

Overall, I thought this was a very solid film. I was certainly more emotionally invested in the story and the characters than I was watching John Carter. The issues that these sorts of "gladiatorial" movies bring up, such as The Running Man, Spartacus, Gladiator, Gamer, Death Race 2000 (and to a lesser extent the remake) and so forth are all relatively similar. The clincher is of course making the combatants teenagers, and also teenagers of a wildly varying age range. Pitting a 12 year old girl against an 18 year old boy is, by and large, going to be an unfair fight. I'm not going to post any spoilers here, but let's just say the fighting isn't always fair, and comments early on in the film about how the most dangerous opponent in the Games is the arena itself are certainly true.

Overall acting and screenplay I thought were solid. Child actors, especially those having to play very emotional roles, can be really good or incredibly awful. I definitely feel that the cast for this film was well-chosen, and although there were a few chuckle moments for me, that's mostly because I'm a bastard and often find myself laughing when others weep. So sue me.

I did say this would be a quick review, so I'll leave it at that. For a story that comes from a Young Adult novel, I think this was a very good movie and well worth the money I paid. I only wish I took the money I spent on John Carter and used it for this ticket instead.  It's actually kind of sad that a story that's almost a hundred years old gets handled so poorly while a book that's only been out a couple of years does so well. I wouldn't want to see their fortunes reversed, but it is interesting to see the differences in how the two franchises have been handled.


Ty said...

Happy to see this is decent. Might catch an early showing to beat the crowds.

Dan O. said...

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 Jack.

Cy Mathews said...

I actually found the pre-games section the strongest: wonderfully bleak and hopeless, with Katniss trapped in the poverty of her hometown and the steel-cold machinations of the Capitol. Oddly, once the games started a lot of that bleakness dissipated, replaced by bad-guy vs good-guy action and occasional bursts of sentimentality.

Still a great film though.

Ben said...

I agree with your review. Read the book and saw the movie and thought the adaptation was wonderful. They left a lot of the sentimental stuff aside.

I've been told many teenagers clapped and cheered at the killings in theater. I don't think they'd get it now, but Katniss Everdeen is a great female model. She protects who she loved and she's a tough chick. Jennifer Lawrence has a great game. I believed her pain, whether it was emotional or physical.

Lurid said...

Yeah, it was great to have a strong female lead who wasn't sexualized, portrayed as dumb, or playing second fiddle to a male-dominated storyline. Also, the sound engineering is brilliant. Particularly the scene where the mockingjays pick up the screams of the girl stung to death by trackerjackers.