Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Hunger Games
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Woody Harrelson, Josh Hutcherson
Directed by Gary Ross


Set in a future where the Capitol selects a boy and girl from the twelve districts to fight to the death on live television, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister's place for the latest match.

As a fan of the book series, i had high expectations for The Hunger Games, so it certainly had a lot to live up to. In saying that though, i'm not some sort of obsessed book worm who feels like movie adaptations need to be the perfect representations of the books i enjoy. There have been many films over the years that i've enjoyed, even if the books have still been superior [Eg. Interview with the Vampire, Harry Potter].
As a book to film representation of the series, Hunger Games does actually succeed for the most part. It stays very faithful to the storyline of the book with only a few minor changes, which actually made sense in the context of the film itself.
The world of The Hunger Games was nicely visualized. The districts all looked exactly how i imagined them too, as did the Capitol and it's inhabitants. Casting was also executed well, each actor did a good job in bringing their characters to life, especially Elizabeth Banks as Effie, Lenny Kravitz as Cinna and of course, Jennifer Laurence as Katniss.
The build up to the games themselves was slow and steady, but the pay off at the end with the games finally kicking into gear was meant to make that all worth it. Sadly, this is where the film started to fall apart.

In book form, the arena the chosen tributes fought in was actually a dangerous place. There was obvious tension, danger always felt near, and the desperation to stay alive was constantly pushed onto the reader. In the film, there didn't seem to be danger or suspense at all whatsoever. The Hunger Games themselves felt like a snail paced bore-fest with Katniss looking relaxed most of the time and action scenes feeling void of excitement or drama. This was a major let down, as the arena was meant to be a thriving zone for some really well executed action scenes, and we got none of those.
Battle Royale, which the book series gets compared to a lot, displayed this much better when it was turned into a movie. It was more violent, more bloody, and the characters seemed more vicious and desperate to survive. I didn't expect The Hunger Games to be an all out bloodbath since the film does have a PG 13 rating, however, the books were a lot more violent, and much of that was skimmed over in the film. It just felt too safe, and too family friendly.

Another part of the film which needed to be pulled off perfectly was the romance between Peeta and Katniss. It was beautifully unfolded in the book, but in the movie it was rushed and empty. The infamous "cave" scene from the book was decently done in the film, although more time should have been dedicated to it, it could have been more fleshed out.
The final scene in the film between Katniss and Peeta was a real slap in the face though. It was hacked down to literally 2 lines of vapid dialog that seemed so rushed that you barely understood the impact of what Katniss or Peeta were feeling.

To be fair, i am in the minority with my view of this film. People are loving it all over the world, and although i'm glad the movie is doing well since i loved the books so much, i can't say that i got what i was looking for from this movie. All the ingredients were there, but the end result was half baked. Without the sense of adventure within the arena and with very minimal emotional pull between characters, it was hard for me to get anything from this film.
It has it's good points, acting, design, and a couple scenes were a highlight, like the Reaping and the final battle between Katniss, Peeta and the vicious dogs. However, that just wasn't enough to sustain the whole film which felt too slow, too empty on adrenaline and ultimately just way too boring. Honestly, i was so bored while watching it i nearly fell asleep.

I'll be interested to see what they do with the second film in the franchise, hopefully that feeling of adventure and drama i was wanting is finally given to me. So far though, The Hunger Games was a dull disappointment.