Reckless Review: The Hunger Games

Because there’s been so many reviews of The Hunger Games, I know there isn’t much I can say that hasn’t been said already, but I do have a few thoughts. NB: I haven’t read the books. POSSIBLE SPOILERS.

I really enjoyed this movie. While some of the suspense is negated by knowing that there’s 2 more books after this and the heroine will survive no matter how harrowing the circumstances, I was literally on the edge of my seat almost the entire time. I have to agree with my friends Ruth at Flix Chatter and T at Focused Filmographer that it deserves 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen

  • The actual Games themselves are horrifying and yet very familiar. The way they are presented in the film is pretty standard for reality TV. Just like American Idol, HG has a smarmy host, Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci), a live audience, and ubiquitous promotion (does Panem TV show anything but HG?) The swooping shots of the riled-up crowd and the banter between the host and contestants are too much like AI and America’s Got Talent et al to be a coincidence. Once the Games begin, alliances are made and broken, like on Survivor. And like all reality shows, the Games’ storylines are set and the contest is manipulated for ratings — “They just want a good show” is the motto of Katniss’ mentor Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson). I believe we are closer than I realized to a society where a TV show like this is possible. I’ve often thought that it will be only a matter of time until somebody gets killed on a reality show, and from there, it seems like it’s not much of a leap for contestants killing each other to become a show’s main goal. I hope I’m wrong.
  • Another similarity is that of Panem and contemporary US society. Like those in the Capitol, some people in the US are doing extremely well, and proportionately more people are much worse off, like those in District 12. (Much like the denizens of the Firefly universe were caught in the 1800s, only with more technology, D12 seems to have rewound to the Great Depression and gotten stuck there.) In the US in 2012, the gap between rich and poor is widening and coal mining accidents, like the one that killed Katniss’ father, are still happening. So it seems to me that Panem’s situation isn’t really all that different from ours.
  • Squirrel tastes like chicken. In case you were wondering.
  • Sometimes supporting players really put a film over the top. There’s no way I’d have given this picture as high of a rating without the fabulous work done by Tucci, Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks and Lenny Kravitz.
  • Can anyone do an action or fight scene these days without dizzying close-ups and jittery handheld-style camerawork? That’s kind of a dumb question….the answer is obviously not! But I think it’s an appropriate choice for The Hunger Games, most of the time. It accurately conveys the disorientation of a teenager fighting for his or her life. The one exception where I thought it was completely bewildering was the fight scene atop the Cornucopia near the end. That was so fragmented that it was difficult to tell what was really going on for too long.
  • I see a similarity between Katniss Everdeen, Lisbeth Salander, and Peppy Miller, and I hope that it’s a trend brewing. Not just that I enjoyed all of these characters’ films, although that is true. All of them are independent and resourceful women, and all of them save others’ lives. What people see in films and TV and read in books has an effect on their real-life expectations, and so I believe a variety of female characters—not just the passive/reactive ones— is a good thing.

 

Leave me your thoughts about The Hunger Games below.

EDIT: I want to make it clear…I WATCH REALITY TV. Seriously, I do. If there’s any judgement, it’s on myself as well.

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6 responses to “Reckless Review: The Hunger Games

  1. VERY cool review, Paula! Glad you got around to doing it.

    “Squirrel tastes like chicken” Ah so it does, I was wondering about that :)

    I thought the supporting cast was superb, especially Tucci (whom I know you like a lot!) I feel like he deserves his own post for his performance here, just like in ‘Julie & Julia.’ And yeah, Katniss is a strong, independent girl. Yay for girl power!

    That’s cool that you’re able to enjoy this film even though you haven’t read the books! I’m glad I’ve only read the first one, in fact I’m going to wait until a few months before the sequel comes out next November before reading the 2nd book.

    • Thanks so much Ruth :)

      Tucci was excellent as usual of course! I also think Jennifer Lawrence passed one of the major acting tests when she had to act like she was acting at the end. Only the good ones can do that. JMO

      I will read the books but I don’t want to get distracted by what should or shouldn’t be in each movie. I think they’ll be OK on their own :)

  2. I haven’t read the books, and was ho-hum about the movie. After seeing the movie version of *1984* with John Hurt (a very long, but very brilliant adaptation – which, by the way was filmed, in 1984 during the same months as the novel takes place) I’ve shied away from dystopian stories. I guess I assume they’ll be too depressing.

    But I think Hunger Games is a great movie. It’s an excellent thriller, and is a wonderful example of efficient story telling. There are these little scenes and shots that I’m sure are whole chapters in the novel, but are summed up in one short montage. Really well done.

    And I totally agree about Jennifer Lawrence passing the ‘acting like you’re acting test.’ I keep reminding myself that she played Mystique in X-Men: First Class! She’s definitely one of those actors who can disappear into a role.

    • You didn’t tell me you were ho-hum on it LOL I’m glad I dragged you.

      It certainly is dystopian. I’m not sure why I didn’t get depressed? I guess because there’s a suggestion of hope at the end. She isn’t gonna just let President Snow kill her & her sister & friends. Oh hell no! Not without a fight!

  3. Wow. I really like your take on The Hunger Games and the thoughts you share about it. Loved the Squirrel proclamation! ha.

    Ya know, I wondered too if Panem tv ever showed anything else other than the games too. It does seem very very similar to reality tv, let’s hope our reality tv doesn’t get to that point. I’m not a reality tv fan.

    great review. I’m glad you enjoyed the film.

    • Thanks for your kind words, T!

      Panem TV seemed like the major means of control. It was interesting to me that it didn’t seem like District 12 would even have indoor toilets but they all had these giant TVs. Total mind control.

      I do watch reality TV to a certain extent, the less cutthroat stuff, like Dancing With The Stars. But yeah, I too hope it never gets there.

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