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The Hunger Games (2012)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
Movie Connections:
The Hunger Games
> The Hunger Games (2012)
> The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013)
> The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (2014)
> The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 (2015)
Genres / Traits:
Psychological Thriller, Science Fiction, Teen Thriller, Post Apocalyptic
Director:
Gary Ross Gary Ross
Starring:
Stanley Tucci Stanley Tucci
Wes Bentley Wes Bentley
Jennifer Lawrence Jennifer Lawrence
Willow Shields Willow Shields
Liam Hemsworth Liam Hemsworth

7.2 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Crispy
Added: June 08, 2012
I'm not entirely sure where the hype originated from, but The Hunger Games certainly has exploded with the release of the film adaptation of the first novel. I even hunted down the book myself, and I certainly enjoyed the story. The movie, on the other hand...

We're far into the future, and the country of Panem has developed an interesting dynamic with its citizens. The capital city is situated in the center, with thirteen districts surrounding it, each one responsible for a different resource. Unhappy with their rule, the districts rose up against the capital; the rebellion was unsuccessful. In fact, the thirteenth district was completely destroyed. As punishment, Panem started the Hunger Games. A boy and girl are selected by raffle from each district, and the twenty-four kids are put in an arena where they fight to the death on live television; not watching is a crime. As the 74th Game draws near, Katniss Everdeen is more worried about keeping her mother and little sister fed in the impoverished District 12. After her father died in a coal-mining accident, she's taken to hunting in the woods and has become insanely skilled with bow and arrow. At the day of the raffle, mercilessly known as The Reaping, Katniss is terrified to find her twelve-year-old sister chosen, and quickly volunteers. Along with male tribute, Peeta, and their mentor, Haymitch (District 12's last winner, now an apathetic, drunken mess), she makes her way to the capital, and prepares to fight for her life.

Cracked has quite the entertaining article about faulty arguments defending bad movies; among them is the reasoning that "the story makes perfect sense if you read the source material." While I'm fairly certain that article predates the movie, it's almost as if they wrote that section with this movie in mind. Film making is an art yes, but adapting novel to film is a whole different matter.

When Gary Ross moved the story from paper to screen, he was basically content to just move some of the major scenes and completely skipped the little nuances that brought everything together. The Hunger Games wasn't exactly a super-political allegory (still, critics have claimed the story is meant to be taken from the left, the right and everywhere in between), but Suzanne Collins still had several themes throughout the novel that are blatantly ignored. Perhaps the most prevalent of which is rebellion. Obviously, given the status quo, it's the little acts that are so important, but the film misses this point completely. The three-finger salute to Katniss at the Reaping and District 11's reaction to Rue are perhaps the biggest grievances in this area. One is just there, with no impact or explanation whatsoever, and the other was completely changed. And what a horrible change it was.

This problem runs throughout the entire movie. Every single aspect of the story is watered down to its barest parts, with just the empty scenes there to move things along. Every aspect you can think of is just a shadow of where it needs to be to be effective. Katniss' relationship with Rue skipped all of the Prim connotations that made it so meaningful; same with the soothing effect her relationship with Cinna had on her. The "faux" relationship with Peeta was all but skipped over, as was the coarseness of her dealings with Haymitch. Even Thresh. Going so far as labeling him a tertiary character is probably too generous, but his meeting with Katniss was much more important than it was displayed here.

While acting is consistently strong, again, most characters just aren't give enough screen time to really do what they need to do. The result is endlessly frustrating, as you know these people have more to show. Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz, the drunken Haymitch and soft-spoken Cinna respectively, are both the biggest victims here. Josh Hutcherson also didn't get enough time to show off, although in his brief screen time he didn't give the impression that he had much more to bring to the table like the other two did. As for the star of the movie, indeed the only one to get any real screen time, Jennifer Lawrence was extremely solid. While at first I felt something was missing, that intangible charisma needed to carry a franchise successfully, I realized that the lack thereof actually suits the character beautifully. I mean shit, that very trait is a huge part of her preparing for the Games (in the book I mean, like everything else, the movie skipped this). I haven't read the two sequels, Catching Fire and MockingJay, but if Katniss starts to come out of her shell, that's when it's time for Lawrence to step up. Also, she's a good-looking girl, and did a very nice job dressing down for this tomboy role. Finally, a special nod to child actor Willow Shields as Prim; age be damned, she actually handled the emotional scenes quite well.

I know it's a cliché to say "the book is better than the movie," but this is an entirely different level. The movie is the very definition of poor adaptation technique, and the hype just makes it worse. 4/10.
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Crispy #1: Crispy - added 07/13/2012, 10:54 AM
Just finished reading Catching Fire. These movie people better step their game up for the next three.
Crispy #2: Crispy - added 08/03/2012, 06:19 AM
Just finished Mockingjay, and I'd like to address that line about "Lawrence stepping it up if Katniss starts to come out of her shell." While Katniss is never a charismatic character by any stretch, there's a lot of rage, hate and despair that's ESSENTIAL for Jennifer to convey convincingly for the following sequels to have any impact whatsoever. Judging by the first film, nobody really seems to care about that, but if the next three movies are done properly, the poor girl is going to be emotionally drained by the time she wraps up the franchise. If she can pull it off however, it will definitely kickstart her career beautifully.
Crispy #3: Crispy - added 08/03/2012, 08:18 AM
Who am I kidding, they're going to twilight the shit out of this.
George Snow #4: George Snow - added 10/13/2012, 07:08 PM
I just saw this. I don't get why it was popular. But, I don't get Twilight either.
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