Movie: The Hunger Games

Today I wanted to talk about a movie instead of video games, so take this as your cue to leave if you don’t care.

The Hunger Games is a phenomenon that I was unaware of until last week. Suddenly every person I know started talking about going to the midnight showing, or re-reading all the books, and asking me if I wanted to go see it. I usually need a bit of background before I go see a movie, I’m not too keen on wasting ~$10 and 2 hours on seeing something that I don’t care about. My friends gave me a quick synopsis, and I resisted the urge to denounce it immediately as a Battle Royale/Running Man ripoff. Really, most of what I gathered is that Hunger Games is to today’s youth as Harry Potter was to mine. Also, there are spoilers past this.

So basically the plot is that this country has 12 districts, and every year they randomly choose a boy and a girl age 12-18 from each one, who must then compete in a 24-way battle to the death in a big forest area, surviving and hiding between fights. The reason for this is that the districts all rebelled in the past and now they are being punished for it, even though its been 74 years. Also, most of the districts have very little food, aren’t allowed to grow much food (or any food, it wasn’t clear), and can’t really hunt game because for some reason there isn’t any. This might be explained in the books but I only saw the movie. Anyways, the main character is a girl with the ridiculous name of Katniss Everdeen, which makes it sound like she should be from Azeroth, but in reality she is from District 12, a poor coal mining town.

Katniss and and a boy named Peetr (I think that’s how it is spelled) are picked, and must train and prepare for a couple weeks to be in the games. Katniss is a skilled archer, and Peetr is strong, and together they win due to a rule change that allows 2 people to win if they are from the same district, hooray. They really set up room for sequels at the end, presumably where the districts rebel again, and afterwards I did find out there there are two more books. This movie did exceeding well at the box office, so I do not doubt there will be sequels.

I will say that this movie entertained me, but I don’t want to call it a good movie because I don’t think it was overall. It has a plot that seems to promise some interesting situations, and it delivered. I did enjoy some of the character interactions, and the frustration and desperation of being hurled into combat to survive was intense in several places. The villains are sufficiently villainous to be unlikable, and the use of children makes the stakes feel higher. However, the most glaring problems are that the characters are pretty bland (or at least Katniss and Peetr are, they really don’t express any emotion in what should be an incredibly emotional time), and the camerawork is AWFUL. I haven’t seen cameras this shaky since The Bourne Supremacy. You can’t really tell what is happening in most of the action sequences, and it’s even blurry when Katniss is just moving around the woods.

My biggest problem, however, is that this premise is absurd. I can accept dystopian futures and hilariously dressed upper classes, but I felt like the general populace was far too sadistic, especially coming from a a group of people that, by and large, seemed oblivious but not child-torturingly evil. This has been going on for 74 years, almost everyone who was alive for this rebellion is dead, they are still effectively murdering children for sport? Am I really supposed to accept this? It’s just so…blatantly stupid and pointless, but it’s done with the fanfare of our Olympics. It’s an expensive way to go about business, and even though it is done to keep the districts quelled, it seems like it is inciting the urge to rebel again. The villains don’t seem stupid, but we have to assume that they are! As a viewer, I can’t accept this whole thing. Just round up some people and execute them.

I imagine that my opinion won’t be the deciding factor for anyone on this movie, and I will admit to having been interested from the general description. Go see it if you want to, if only for the Avenger’s trailer. The last thing I want to say about this movie is that its subject matter is extremely dark, even though it’s being marketed to teenagers and even children. I don’t know, it just seems weird to have 12 year olds talking about these books where kids die for sport. I know it has gained appeal because it’s visceral and edgy, but it just feels like a premise that should have a bit more warning about it. It’s a free country, I just can’t believe so many people like it. I mean, I watched Battle Royale, but I wouldn’t read 3 books about it and then give it to my kids and talk about it endlessly with my friends. You know, unless I was having a really bad day.

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Posted on March 30, 2012, in Movies and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. You make a good point, actually. It’s a pretty twisted plot. Although on the flip side, it doesn’t really put as much emphasis on the violence. It shows a person’s will to survive. So I guess there is a itsy bitsy ray of light in this particularly dark plot.

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