Monday, March 26, 2012


Directed by Gary Ross

Jennifer Lawrence - Katniss Everdeen
Josh Hutcherson - Peeta Mellark
Woody Harrelson - Haymitch Abernathy

     In a not-too-distant future, North America has collapsed,  replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. A game of death played by children, that is televised for all to watch.

     I'll go ahead and say that going into the movie I had no idea what to expect. The only thing I heard was from what JeNee told me, which is little bits and pieces of the story from the novel. And yes, I read bits and pieces here and there from reviews from different sites to see what the general feeling has been toward it. And from what I can gather people are generally pleased with the finished product all in all. Some of the backlash from it is that it's being compared to the likes of the cult film Battle Royal, which was finally released over in the US even though it came out in Japan in 2000, and contrary to popular belief was never banned here. Even one of my friends mentioned a little known film called Series 7: The Contenders. I realized that no matter what, there is going to be backlash against Hunger Games after the atrocity that is the Twilight Series (vampires do NOT sparkle!) and people will judge it from just that alone which I will say isn't fair to the film.

   I can easily say that  Jennifer Lawrence, as Katniss Everdeen, carried the film and the weight that came with playing the lead role. She put a decent amount of emotion and physicality into her role. There's also a certain amount of deceit that also is put into her role as well.  I'll go more into this later as it's one of the few things that bothered me. Josh Hutcherson has the hard job of making Peeta Mellark likeable. When we're first introduced to his character he seems to be more interested in making the most out of what time he has being pampered and Hutherson does a great job of making his character seem like a complete douche through most of the film. Yet Hutcherson  also has to make sure the audience know he's in love. Unfortunately during some of these scenes his acting falters slightly as if he wasn't sure what the director wanted from him. Now Woody Harrelson, as Haymitch Abernathy, acting stuck out the most to me as every scene he was in you knew it, as his presence outshined the other actors in the film as the ever drunken past winner of The Games. He's surly and somewhat manipulative to get what he wants out of Katniss, but you still like his character as you can tell that there is something else going on in his mind and a pain he's trying to hide.

     I mentioned that I was going to get into the character of Katniss and something that bothered me.That something is even without reading the books I know that something was missing from her character. We know from the very start of the film that her character has nothing but complete contempt for The Capital. She doesn't like what she is about to have to do, yet she learns very quickly she has to manipulate the audience that is watching her before the games to get sponsors to help her during them. This I think is well done in the movie and makes the character seem very smart but yet it still feels like something is missing.  It's when later in the film when Katniss and Peeta are together that the manipulative aspect of her character is fully seen, partly to help Peeta, and at the same time to somehow make up for not being able to protect another character. I know that there is a lot missing from Katniss's character as she seems to be able to think through different scenarios to give her an advantage yet at the same time at certain points the movie tries to hide this fact, which I'm happy to say doesn't work. Thankfully what the film doesn't do is make Katniss seems stupid or inept. Peeta's character though is a little bit different, he starts out the manipulator once the games start partly to save himself but more than anything to help save Katniss even at the cost that he knows is his life.  It can easily be seen that everything Peeta does throughout the film is for Katniss only and not for himself, as Peeta knows he was  doomed once his name was drawn for the games. The one thing both Katniss and Peeta have in common is that they both don't want the game to change them or for The Capital to have control of their lives even though this is hardly mentioned, it is slyly implied more than anything else.

     The weird thing about this film to me was the choice of director for it Gary Ross. The violent aspect of the film, all dealing with the killing of children by other children, is going to be rough for the audiences and  Ross, who is known for more than anything else more happy film fare, does actually a decent job of making it more horrific than what I was expecting from him. The first couple of minutes once the game actually starts is more brutal and bloody than I was expecting and at the same time was a little chaotic and was never played for laughs and we know from that point. The chaotic film work is there to cover up the violence that is happening as the start of the game is a slaughter of more younger contestants by the more older ones, who take pleasure in what they are doing. It's kinda funny thinking about those first minutes of the game that if this film was made fifteen or ten years ago this film would have been rated "R" for the violence that is shown. Ross also has a sense of pacing for the film that actually surprised me as the film never really felt as if it lagged anywhere. My one complaint against Ross is that the film didn't have the feel of desperation that one would expect from the situation the characters were put in and the darkness associated with the pain of being forced to kill someone as a means of control. But I will admit that with all these complaints and and small gripes I have with The Hunger Games, it is a well put together film that transports you to a different world that is fully realized, and at the same time a world that very much could happen in real life which makes it more surreal than false. As well, the film makes you want to see the next one much sooner than you would expect as you know this one only scratched the surface of this world and there were other factors involved in what was actually happening.

BEST DEATH: (Spoiler warning)
     Not really a death, but the after affects of a death.

     Here's some advice. Stay alive.

     Jennifer Lawrence left her lead role is Savages to do The Hunger Games.

     Danny Elfman left film due to scheduling conflicts.

     Early ticket sales for The Hunger Games broke the record held by the Twilight Saga: Eclipse.

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