What is it that makes me watch this film over and over again? If we look closely, the acting’s ok, the sets are basic, and the effects are cheap. I think it’s because the story just grabs me. There is so much depth of emotion in the plot that I keep coming back to relive the horror, the unfairness, the fragility of life, and the shocking passivity of the oppressed – now I’m getting wordy. Let’s just say it’s a wonderful film that I can watch again and again, but, as with most films, it is by no means perfect. So, should I get a canon ready?
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is just a simple girl from a simple town. So simple, it’s relatively easy to describe: the men work below ground, the women starve above ground, and the children wear nothing but pastels. How awful. Every year the Capital demands that one girl and one boy be taken from each impoverished district, brought to the colourful Capital, and forced to fight in an arena to the death. On the plus side, they also get to appear on TV, since the entire event is broadcast live. Say, “Hi Mom!” As you might have guessed, Katniss is one of two chosen “tributes” from her district, and the film explores her journey into the “games”.
I’ll admit it: I’m a JLaw fan. The degree to which I want to be her friend is unhealthy. I will say, however, that with an Ocsar under her belt, I hope she brings a wider variety of emotion to the sequel, Catching Fire, this November. The story is told from Katniss’ perspective (literally in the first person narrative throughout the book) and is thus wrought with her emotional struggles. So many emotional struggles. Lawrence, who pulls off the “look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under’t” façade, unfortunately leans too closely to the “under’t” side of things. If I were on set during filming, I would simply ask for a little more of everything. Just a tad.
Also, if I were on set, I would tell the cameraman to put down the camera, wait for the sneeze to pass, and then try for a steady shot. There is so much shaky-camera work in the district scenes that it made me queasy. It’s not artistic, it’s cruel to the audience.
Thankfully, however, the wrinkles in the camera work are smoothed out by a fantastic soundtrack. This score has been a staple on my reading playlist for months, and I’m still not tired of it. James Newton Howard, you are a genius. Keep it up, good sir.
Another fantastic feature of this film is the variety of characters. From Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) to Effie (Elizabeth Banks), the characters are colourful (literally and metaphorically), well-acted, and diverse. It is a cast I’m excited to see return in the sequel.
Why is one of the training/survival exercises a digital version of find-the-matching-card game? Will the tributes be asked to play it before or after fighting to the death?
Why does it take Katniss half the movie to fully remember that Peeta tossed her the bread in the rain?
Why does the countdown guy need a deeper voice?
Why are the sponsor parachutes so obvious? If you’re hiding out somewhere, do you really want a slow, floating beacon pointing out your exact location with an audible “beep boop”?
And finally: Why does Peeta believe that telling Katniss he used to be a stalker is romantic?
… and why does that work?
Obviously, The Hunger Games leaves us with a few questions to ponder, but there were a couple directorial decisions which made me a happy viewer: Spoiler alert: as someone who has read the books and always wondered what happened to the game-maker in the end, I was very pleased with the berries-in-the-locked-room resolution. This was not in the book, but I think it adds a bit of poetic justice to the story and closes things up nicely for poor Seneca. All clear.
The film does an excellent job of demonstrating contrast between the self-centered wealthy and the starving poor. The story has a lot of depth to it, and it would be fun to dissect. Discussion group anyone? By no means is The Hunger Games perfect, but it is well deserving of a 7/10 for pure watchability.
This review can also be found at http://thecinemaid.net/2013/10/28/the-hunger-games-2012-pending/