The Hunger Games (2012)
Director: Gary Ross
Set in a post-apocalyptic dystopian society, a boy and a girl from 12 different districts (aka shit hole neighborhoods) are forced to take place in The Hunger Games; a fight to the death established by the rich to remind the little people to stay little or else! Let the games begin!
I gotta say it, I am not sure where I was when THE HUNGER GAMES book (by Suzanne Collins) rattled the shelves and became a phenomenon. I didn't get the memo. And even as blabbing, pics and trailers for the film adaptation started to flood the net, I still didn't get the “hype” for it or the negative backlash that comes with anything that is uber teen popular. Peeps compare it to Twilight here, others bitterly name drop Battle Royale there... yeah... it all went over my hollow melon. For me it was just another movie with a initial premise that rang familiar; happens all the time. And it was with that attitude that I strolled on in my screening. Here's what I got out of it...
Now keep in mind that I am giving my thoughts on THE MOVIE, not the book (which I haven't read) or how it compares to it. I give a shit if something I pan was the same in the book. We're talking about two different mediums here; sometimes what's on the written page won't work on celluloid if not tweaked. THE HUNGER GAMES started off strong, it reeled me into its “the poor suffer, the rich thrive while dressed like clowns” world off the bat, kept me there via its potent set up and tightened the noose through its build-up to the impending games. The first half of the movie was my favorite part. I really got into the politics of this society, the training of the contestants and how the characters were gradually defined by the situation. The fact that the latter were tackled by a stand-out cast helped in that department. Elizabeth Banks gave an amusing and flamboyant show, Wes Bentley owned it, solely upstaged by his zany beard, Woody Harrelson put out a biting mix of charming and broken, Lenny Kravitz was surprisingly affable and Stanley Tucci stole the show with his “out there” demeanor and his big phony grin as the purple haired host Caesar Flickerman. He reminded me of a couple of film producers I used to know for some reason...
At the end of the neck-snap though the whole of the film focused on the characters of Peeta (no not Griffin) and Katniss. Josh Hutcherson had the physical presence and chops to sell the role but lets face it, the whole of the story rested on Jennifer Lawrence's shoulders as Katniss Everdeen. Thankfully, the lass was up to the task; endearing, intense, tough, vulnerable... talk about a well rounded performance! Lawrence gave me a heroine to care and root for! She also looked damn sexy slinging arrows at folks. This movie should make her a HUGE star! Another aspect that struck me was the scope of the thing, the striking set designs and the sturdy manner in which director Gary Ross approached the material. The poverty stricken sectors, the lavish metropolis and the oppressing forest setting burst out the screen and involved me 100%! Even the wild costume designs (the rich looked like a cross between 17th century fops and 80's glam), which at first took me aback, eventually came through since the reality of the film had set in. Technically Ross did some amazing things! Loved his on the move camera, how he used slow motion and more importantly how he used silence (in terms of ambient sound) to up the impact of a sequence. Add to that an effortless pace (I didn't feel the 142 minutes run time), a handful of well shot/enthralling action scenes (that was one great kaboom), thought provoking and socially relevant themes (Donald Sutherland's speech about hope and fear hit home) and an evocative score by James Newton Howard (must own it) which jacked up the oomph of the imagery, and you get a movie with all kinds of potent bullets in its clip!
So what was the problem with this Running Girl? Well, I didn't care for the hazy love story (She digs the dude for real or is it all a show? Not clear.) and half assed love triangle (Liam Hemsworth was so wasted here) which was too underdeveloped/forced for me to give a sprinkle of an ounce of a shite (now that I think of it, that was not necessarily a bad thing, you can keep your damn love triangle). But my biggest beef was that once the game was set in motion; the chain of events wasn't all that it could have been. Although there were a couple of money action bits, I expected more direct physical conflict than what I got. Hey, I was raised on Hard Target and Surviving the Game, sue me! And why was the cruel teen badass so underused (Cato ably played by Alexander Ludwig)? They set him up as the ultimate killer but once the game kicked in, he was too absent to make a sizable dent. Meh. Finally the affair would have benefited of SOME graphic violence. Having the brutality be blink and miss (all that damn shaky cam hiding the violence), somewhat defeated the purpose of having a movie about kids hunting each other in the name of "Government control" and by result that watered down the wallop of the story.
All in all though, I still enjoyed THE HUNGER GAMES. Its story, characters and visceral happenings hooked me while its audio/visual style greased me right. I am definitely curious as to where the story is gonna go. Folks thinking this is the new Twilight... it's not. No melodrama, tacky dialogue or sap overdose here! It's more mature than you think. Game on!
We get quick snippets of violence (don't blink or scratch your crotch) and some moderate blood shed.
T & A
Take a wild guess?
THE HUNGER GAMES slung out a powerful storyline, thought provoking themes, a grade A cast and a star making turn by Jennifer Lawrence! Furthermore, the audio/visual aesthetics pushed my right buttons, the money was on the screen and although the clock time was high, the flick went by “like that”! Sure the games needed more action, the main villain was underused, the violence too toned down for this kind of flick, the love story was unfocused and the love triangle felt forced, but on the whole I still had a rewarding sit down. You can sign me up for the sequel (s)! To quote Ben Richards: "I hope you leave enough room for my fist because I'm going to ram it into your stomach and break your god-damn spine!" Yup... I'm in!
Yup that was Orphan (2009) Isabelle Fuhrman playing the bad girl Clove.
The film was shot in North Carolina, USA.
First part of a Trilogy series of young adult books. The two other books are called: Catching Fire and Mockingjay.
Initial composer Danny Elfman had to book out on the movie due to a scheduling conflict. He was replaced by the great James Newton Howard.