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.