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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What a bitter disappointment! In order to fully explain what was
missing from the film, please bear with me while I describe what I
loved about the books.
Suzanne Collins created a moving, detailed portrayal of a girl living under a cruel dictatorship. Set against a background of extreme poverty, these books show how the unequal distribution of wealth affects Panem's society. Those living in the wealthy Capitol have so little in common with the destitute people from the Districts that they actually regard the deaths of District children as entertainment. The violence in The Hunger Games is shocking because it is brutal and unnecessary, yet wholly embraced- even celebrated- by Capitol residents. As for the District tributes, they are not enemies but they kill each other all the same, some reluctantly and others with enthusiasm. As the trilogy progresses, it becomes a compelling commentary on the madness of war and the sad futility of violence. However, these major themes are woven into the books in such a way that you may not even notice they are being discussed. You become so immersed in Katniss's world that poverty is a given and violence a sad but expected part of life.
The film follows the basic storyline but lacks emotional depth. The character development is almost nonexistent and the deaths in the arena are bloodless in every sense of the word. The tributes are little more than walking stereotypes so their deaths have no impact. Even Rue's death, which was heart-wrenching in the book, was little more than a side note in the movie. If I hadn't read the books, I don't think I would have understood the dynamic between the tributes at all, including the conflicted relationship between Katniss and Peeta. Their romance comes across as cheesy and unconvincing. There is no hint of the bond that grows between them as the story progresses.
Perhaps my biggest criticism of this movie is that no one seems to be going hungry! I cannot believe the filmmakers overlooked this important point. The Capitol's exploitation of the Districts is supposed to be the backdrop for the entire story. When Katniss arrives in the Capitol and observes how their food appears at a touch of a button, she cannot understand how the Capitol residents fill their time. The majority of her days are consumed with feeding her family. It defines her. Most of the tributes have never had enough to eat and this is a major factor in the Games.
The beginning of the movie seemed promising. The ominous mood in district 12 was just right. It is apparent that the people who live there are exhausted and resigned to their fate. When residents appear for the reaping, they look like cattle being rounded up for slaughter. The Capitol, in contrast, is frightening in it's frenetic artificiality. This juxtaposition was well-done. However, the filmmakers lost me when the tributes entered the arena.
There was no sense of tension in the arena. The tributes make all kinds of noise as they move through the woods, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they are being hunted. Katniss stands about ten feet away from Cato as he snaps a boys neck and we are supposed to believe he doesn't see her? The scenes from the control room are pointless and add nothing to the movie. They should have spent that time on character development! Unfortunately, this lack of character development causes the emotional scenes to fall flat. I am astounded this was even possible, given the subject matter, but the overall result lacks intensity and depth.
I will credit Elizabeth Banks with an excellent portrayal of Effie Trinket. She adds humor and a sense of the absurdity of Capitol life. Donald Sutherland also does well as President Snow. Jennifer Lawrence is an adequate Katniss but Josh Hutcherson is terrible as Peeta. He's just not very likable. We see none of his inner strength. Instead, he comes across and whiny and weak. And Wes Bentley seems to be included just to showcase his ability to grow an amazing beard.
One more thing. What happened to Haymitch?! He's supposed to be a self-destructive drunk! His cunning is all the more unexpected because he seems incapable of taking care of himself. I was thrilled when they cast Woody Harrelson and he does well in some parts but it seemed like they had to water down his character to market it to young adults.
This movie had a lot of potential but it fell short in many important ways. A score of 3/10 is pretty harsh but I felt as though the filmmakers kept all of the plot points and none of the meaning. Read the books instead.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
OK, first let me admit that I haven't read the books, and I didn't even know they existed: I was taken to the cinema by my girlfriend, who saw something in the trailers I didn't which made her all excited. So, I sat there with a clear mindset, no expectations, no prejudice, no background info whatsoever. First things first: whoever invented the the "let's shake the camera all around because it makes the movie so much more lifelike" and convinced others to follow him or her, should be shot. Twice, in fact, just to be sure...It is really annoying, and so unnecessary: it is not making anything more real. For me, in many cases the hectic and jerky camera movement seemed to be only a poor attempt to mask fact that there is nothing (or not much) happening, but it tries to make it look intense and action packed regardless. So cheap...and apart from pissing me off, it didn't work at all, but I admit I well may be a minority... The story feels like it is hanging in the air. Again, I didn't read the books so the scenes may have been adequately set there, but in the movie you get 10 lines, and off you go...and it doesn't add much depth later on either. The most fundamental question remained: what's the point? Sending 2 dozens of younglings to slaughter won't hold aggression at bay in itself, actually it is more likely that the infuriated parents driven mad from the grieving over the unnecessary and pointless death of their children will cry for revenge and go into resistance, or even spark a brutal bloodbath (especially that it is an annual event, so sooner or later everyone will be affected by friends or family). Also, the scale is hanging in the air too, you don't know how the 2 opposing populations (the "citizens" of the shiny new world and the habitants of the 12 district) relate to each other, which would be rather pivotal. I won't go on with the many potholes, the bottom line for me is that the scene was set simply poorly. The story, well, is very simple and straight, once you stepped over the inadequate surroundings. Feels painfully unfinished, and though I din't know there is a series behind, I told to the (rather disappointed) missus in the end that it must be so because they already have a sequel in mind. Knowing that gives a little excuse, but still left a hollow "is this really it?" kind of feeling in the both of us. The striking similarities with Battle Royal I'll leave alone... Acting was OK, considering the absurdity of some of the characters and the whole context (background and story). I'm sorry, I'm not a big fan of the lead actress (Jennifer Lawrence), as I didn't even know her before this movie (althogh I saw and really liked First Class, but somehow couldn't connect). Regardless, she does a good job of portraying and transferring the tension, fear and uncertainty of the situation she is pulled into, at least a good number of scenes, in fact her efforts were one of the few "ups" for me among the many "downs" during that long 2,5 hours. Kudos to Elizabeth Banks as well for creating a "sugar-monster" character, and also for the fact that though I know her face well enough (just seen in Man on the ledge), here I simply couldn't recognise :) Based on the movie itself, I really don't know how this can be so popular, but I admit I'm probably not the target audience, and also the books may be much better (well, it wouldn't be difficult as the bar is set really low). Donald Sutherland was brilliant saying "only hope is stronger than fear", but that and Ms Lawrence's occasional shine doesn't make this worth to sacrifice and evening for. I have a frequent visitor card so it didn't cost me anything, but if I've paid almost 10 quids for this, I would be rather upset...
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Simply, many over the age of 18 read these books and loved them, and it wasn't because there was a girl, a boy, and another boy in a love story. It was about an awful political system where children faced to the death for their survival with awful paragraphs of cruel brutality. This is part of what made the book unique. The movie, was an attempt to draw a crowd like Twilight for money, and completely blurred out children killing each other to survive so that it could be made PG13. Ridiculous. Jennifer Lawerence is an AWESOME actress though, and she did a great job. Throughout the movie I was never convinced that she lived in district 12 nearly starving... or that Peeta was dying in the hunger games.. it was all very pretty and not anything like I imagined they would do with it. Oh well, maybe they'll remake a rated R version some day that adequately portrays the books theme.
Let me start by saying that I'm a huge fan of the "The Hunger Games"
book series by Suzanne Collins. I've read them countless times and when
I found out they were making a movie of them a little over a year ago I
was very excited. But I was also worried.
"The Hunger Games" is not very easy source material. The book is written in first person narrative with very detailed descriptions of everything form the characters' looks to the strange futuristic devices they use in Panem, the future version of the U.S. where the story takes place. I couldn't imagine that they would be able to convey every detail as I had imagined it and make the story believable without an R-rating or a huge budget. All of my concerns were wiped away when I saw the movie.
I've never seen a more faithful adaption of a book in my life. All of the costumes, the sets, the locations, the cast (I'll talk more about them in a while) and the pacing is as if they were exactly replicated from the book. And the small things that do differ or are added (such as more insight to the gamemakers' control room) only add to the amazing world Collins created and improve the narrative movie-wise. And the movie is great for people who haven't read the books as well. Not once did I feel as if something was vague or badly explained.
The cast is stellar. Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss carries the movie and makes me regret complaining about her casting because she was too "hot" and not starved enough. She IS Katniss and one can feel the graveness of an situation just by looking at one of her expressions. Josh Hutcherson as Peeta is also a true breakout performance. The way he looks at Katniss will makes girls all over the world envy her, just like it's supposed to be. Other standouts in the cast include Stanley Tucci as the flamboyant talk-show host Caesar Flickerman, Woody Harrelson as the sarcastic but caring mentor Haymitch and Wes Bentley as the sinister game-maker Seneca Crane (his final scene might be the best one in the whole movie). The child actors Willow Shields and Amandla Stendberg who portrays Prim and Rue are believable and heartbreaking even though they're inexperienced.
Despite the PG-13 rating the movie doesn't gloss over or sugarcoat anything for their audience. The violence may not be gloriously graphic but it's still there. People will feel the tributes' pain and despair and not even realize the violence isn't gory until you've left the theater. The movie also deals with important themes like survival, governmental control, grief and helplessness. There is a minor love story subplot, but it doesn't distract from the movies main themes. In my opinion I think it rather improves them by showing some light in the dark.
The only complaint I can think of is that the movie feels too short. It's almost two and a half hours long, but it feels as if it goes by in a blink. I will have to see it again to fully pay attention to every detail (such as the costumes and animation of the Capitol, which looked amazing). But this is still not me saying that the movie is rushed, because as I stated the source material is very dense and the filmmakers managed include almost everything.
People are expecting this to become the next Twilight-style teen movie franchise. I can't say I think the two stories have anything in common even though I hope "The Hunger Games" will do as well at the box office. But if the first movie is any indication of the quality of what's to come - this will be a series way out of Twilight's league.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The start of the movie is so obvious, with a tiny little girl scared
out of her wits who has no business being in the Hunger Games, most
predictably the lead actresses little sister it was obvious she was
going to take her place. Even more less surprising we find out that the
boy going with her has a crush on her.
On to 1 hour and 15 minutes of Woody Harrelson being not nearly believable enough as a crude alcoholic become soft hearted, a lot of senseless dinners, a lot of hype for the contestants we know nothing about, absolutely no politics or explanation of what the Hunger Games actually are or how it came about, and an awful underlying message sent out to viewers. "Just be yourself, but do what everyone expects!" Katniss went from being tough, to a weak and sleepy survivor.
Are you bored yet? So, they get thrown out into the Hunger Games, there is absolutely no build up whatsoever. The only person you know is out there is Katniss and the boy who came with her. The rest of the contestants you don't know, hardly have a clue as to what they're capable of, most of them die at the start anyway. Katniss runs away from the initial slaughter, to take a nap. Then she takes more naps. At one point out of the blue she finds herself in the middle of fiery doom, with fireballs launching at her, she barely survives. Well, lucky for her, though we were never told. she has some sponsors save her, with the help of a silent montage of Woody Harrelson laughing with a bunch of poorly dressed somebodies. She gets saved with super healing medicine! She takes more naps.
Later, we find out the boy who has a crush on her is teamed up with the last of the jerks, for some reason, in a game where only one survives, there are people who travel in groups. Okay? Why??? They make some pathetic attempts to kill her, then give up and sleep. Kat makes a new friend who seems to be the most resourceful, herbal expert. She tells her to dump a bunch of insects on them. Then while it takes forever for her to saw a tree limb off, we're told these are evil, dangerous insects that will kill you. How convenient! She gets stung a few times, and conveniently kills a girl with the bow and arrows, which just so happens she's an expert with. How lucky! Too bad she was stung by these insects, now she's going to take more naps and be saved somehow... by a tiny girl who knows herbal remedies. Wish we would have known that! They turn out to be good pals, what a surprise that is. Well, after a lot more boring stuff of not getting to know anything about what is going on, they randomly decide to go find out what the meanies are up to.
Turns out, they gathered all the supplies and somehow found a bunch of land mines to surround the pile. Okay? What's that supposed to do? Apparently, some girl isn't part of their group, she expertly dodges every land mine and gets away with something. So, instead of gathering some supplies, Katniss blows it all up. Then... runs away! Katniss and her little pal find each other, but get attacked, Kat swiftly dodges a spear throw, and sticks the attacker with an arrow. The attacker dies instantly. But finds out poor little girl was stuck by the big spear. Except it takes FOREVER for her to die, we don't know anything about this character, so we don't care, so the long drawn out death is stupid.
Well, Kat runs off alone and finds her boy who has a crush on her. For some reason untold he's not with the group anymore and he's badly injured somehow. Okay, they hobble off after way too long, and then find a cave where it takes way too long for them to get things going. She decides to go off on her own for some supplies, and gets attacked by a girl who takes too long to kill her, but some other guy out of the blue SAVES Katniss... for absolutely NO reason, and then... just leaves her alone! In a game where only one survives, with the perfect opportunity to turn the odds in his favor... just leaves her alone! She goes back, takes a lot more time, and finds out there is only one person left? Really? Thanks for showing us some of the action... but anyway they leave the cave, and the Hunger Game... techs, or IT people or whatever they are, unleash a bunch of dogs that are really big and full of muscle. Kat and her boyfriend OUTRUN all of them to a huge metal platform where they're surrounded by blood thirsty animals... who could easily make the jump to the top of the platform... don't. Instead the last guy, whoever he is, is bloody and looks like he can barely move, beats the crap out of both of them. How he got by the dogs is beyond me... but whoever can do that must be amazing, until, Kat shoots him in the hand with an arrow. This causes him to fall off and get eaten by dogs. But Kat feels sorry for him, and puts him out of his misery.
After this, there is nothing really to note. Nobody says anything important and nobody cares, they just wish it would end, because they don't really know what happened at all. They don't really know anybody but Kat, Donald Sutherland gives some meaningless scornful look, and walks off and the credits roll.
The trouble with this movie is that I'm old enough to have seen many of its antecedents. So before The Truman Show, which is essentially the same idea as The Hunger Games, we have Battle Royale, The Running Man and of course, Rollerball. They all deal with mass entertainment in a dystopian future society and they all have their flaws. What's really disappointing about The Hunger Games is that unless you've read the book, the film will give you only a fleeting glimpse into why the games are called that. There's nothing else to help the naive reader make sense of the plot and because of this, the involvement of children will seem a bit odd to anyone who hasn't read the book. In fact, that's something you should take into account when reading many of the reviews of the film as they're written by people who have read the books and can fill in the wide gaps in the film without even thinking about it. Some have said its plot line is mildy satirical, but in my view that's just an excuse for a poorly filleted and disappointing adaptation of a marvellous book.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
like everyone else, before going to the movies I stopped on IMDb and
read a few criticisms of the film - both those with better than average
grade, and worse. But I think it's finally time to wonder what is the
purpose of this time consuming ritual. because when a little thought,
in few years back, i found that just a couple of films is well
characterized with the average grade on this site.
but here, not only that I stopped with this habit, I decided to write my first review. for me like for many others with first reviews, trigger is terrible dissatisfaction with seen. I did not read the book nor did I know until yesterday that this film is another adaptation. for the book I do not know, but the movie turned out, on my sorrow, to be for children up to 14 years maximum - the magic of 21st century and advertising machinery.
After the first few minutes of the film when you realize you're 28 year old who is stuck with teenage movie and after you realize what would not just the end, but everything, look like, you tell yourself: ''sit back and at least try to enjoy visual side of the movie''. but that too ceases to be an option once you realize that you are about throw up because some producer decided it was more fun instead of continuous motion of camera to record in the way: cut-ear, cut-leg, cut-tree in the background,cut-somebody runs, cut-Hair... and all that in 0.3 second and from different - all possible angles. must be seen to be believed. but even that is not the worst, because imagine what the feeling of nausea you get when you realize that the hour of the movie is spent to describe the characters and get nothing better then awful cliché: bad guys are trained, arrogant bullies that smile too much and of course despite the superhuman strength, arrogant like that, they must be kicked by the petite 16 year old shy girl. but since this is still a children's movie, you will not literally see bloody action scenes where this brave archer girl kills super-strong and skilled bullies, but you will rather see scenes where those skilled bullies can not figure out how to catch a girl who ran away from them to a tree, so they decide camp under a tree until this girl alone does not get hungry and climb down. but because it was cold, of course, the bullies get cold so they find it was smart thing to make a fire and warm themself, but not too close to tree as it could catch on fire and kill a girl they've been chasing to kill.
To conclude, if you're not 14 year old teenager, this is not a movie for you. don't get yourself tricked like I did.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
First let me say, I love the books.
Now let me voice my problems with the movie:
Actors were good, I actually expected a worse performance. My problem was a lack of character development, they felt very flat, you don't link with the necessity of Katniss to win.
They are called the HUNGER GAMES. They have to suffer, they have to fight for food, they have to kill each other. They made an R rated book a PG-13 movie and they expect it to work ? The fight had to be brutal like it was in the book, the tension of them moving in an arena that was trying to kill them didn't exist in the movie.
The political implications you never understood them, you don't get that sense people in the other districts are linked in some way to the capitol, you don't sense people in the other districts has to suffer to great extents to find food.
The movie is freaking slow, I was failing sleep, mind you I finished the books in 18 hours non stop of reading. There are some useless scenes, others are too long and the important ones are too fast.
Please kill the director and his stupid shaky camera, it was annoying. He failed to portrait the suffering of the participants, the action, the fights.
I hope they do something for the next two or else I wont watch them. They need a better director, screenplay and writer.
One of the things I liked the most about reading 'The Hunger Games' was
the intensity of how it was written. Feeling the story seemed maybe
even more important than reading it, so when I went to see the movie,
my expectations were very high.
On the upside: Great performance by the main characters, excellent visuals and well directed.
On the downside: The book gives a lot of context as to how the characters feel and how things have come to be the way they are. The movie changes a number of things to make it at all possible to show the story and for me the choices made took down the quality of the story a bit. To give at least some context, it took the movie a while to get really started and even despite that, some of the characters, again in my opinion, didn't really develop in depth the way they should.
Long story short, I liked the movie and thought it was a nice adaptation from the book, but it lacked a bit the intensity from the book.
I will start off by saying that I did not read the books. I'm also one
of those people that when I first saw the trailer, I thought it was a
Battle Royale remake. When I found out it wasn't, I was quite
surprised, cause they seemed very similar. You cant always judge a film
by it's trailer though. So to be fair, I decided to give this movie a
chance, and not go into it comparing the two.
The movie has quite a slow start, and even though they take a long time building up; I didn't get the idea that I was getting to know any of the characters. They really didn't do a good job making any of the characters likable, or let them develop in any way. The main character in this film, Katniss, was already portrayed as a tough girl from the very beginning of the film. Nothing in the first part of the movie did anything to either develop this, or add to it.
When the games finally start, I was kind of excited, because I was looking forward to some action finally. Unfortunately for me; the action was lacking quite a bit. Shaky camera-work, which I guess is meant to be artistic these days, left a lot of the killing to your imagination. Due to lack of character building in the beginning of the film, I didn't really mind who died, cause I didn't feel any connection with any of the characters. On top of that; many scenes from the actual games seem to be lacking dept, reason or logic. It was as if they went for too many scenes in too little time. This resulted into the whole story of the movie being kind of blur to me, and left me wondering if there was even one there.
On a positive note; the acting was quite OK. Jennifer Lawrence portrayed her role quite well, and her acting had nothing to do with me not being able to relate to her character. Elizabeth Banks was splendid, as a character that at first sight seems totally misplaced in this world, but totally works in the way it's portrayed.
All in all, I'll have to be fair and say I don't quite get the hype. The movie seemed to be lacking in too many areas, in order for me to stay interested throughout the entire two and a half hours. Not comparing this film to Battle Royale while watching it was made quite easy, simply because this wasn't close to being as good. A missed opportunity for an interesting theme like this!
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