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The Hunger Games (2012)
Critics missed the most salient failing of this film.
When I read the first critic reviews that sprang up I didn't see anything out of the ordinary for a book to movie adaptation; Characters were omitted, characters weren't developed as well as the books, plot points were dropped, etc.
I knew this going in, and as I said fairly predictable for an adaption. However what most reviews missed, including the esteemed Ebert, was the I hope Zenith of what David Bordwell calls intensified continuity, a narrative trend towards quick cuts, hand-held cameras, and camera movement. A great example would be the third Bourne movie where there were reports of people throwing up in the theaters, with an average shot length of under 3s.
The Hunger Games lacks the clarity of the Bourne film in terms of framing though. As I said, expected the story to have trouble with fidelity, but I was always hopeful that at the very least I would be able to SEE a beloved series in live action.
Instead, all I can really remember were a few master shots, some blurry trees and Jennifer Laurence's face. They make up 90% of the 2,500 plus shots in the film. All the action, probably for PG-13 rating, is so closely framed and quickly cut that any comprehension of who is actually doing what to who is retarded.
I hear Ross is on for Part 2, so I just rented Battle Royale, and hopefully that can salvage my disappointment. I will say I thought the Trailer was really cool, and the few times you do see Panem, the costumes and make up were spot on. No real complaints with the actors either, they did the best with the screen time they had, even if most of their emotions are unjustifiable without having read the book because the film makes no effort to explain or validate whats going on.
Points of Clarification
There are more in depth reviews elsewhere, I have nothing new or interesting to add about the films style, I just want to speak to a couple of criticisms that seem to be common among them.
1. Ruppert discounts human ingenuity.
Having the benefit of the internet and the ability to research, you will find that even generous estimates tell us that any new power grid would take 30 years to establish. This means that if aliens came down to earth and gave us a perfect technology that required no input and had zero emissions it would still require a lot of oil and time to build an infrastructure to support it. The fact is oil has artificially increased our carrying capacity and when its gone, the excess population will go with it. The standard of living we all have come to demand will likely never return and certainly not for 7+ billion people. (not that we all have Hummers and flat screens now)
2. The San Francisco (chronicle?) lauds the moment Ruppert cries because they think he is lamenting the fate of humanity.
I think it's highly likely, and more compelling to look at the beginning of the documentary where he says he's lost his fiancé to betrayal and only has his dog, the beach, and this movement to get him by. He's crying because he thinks it will take a community to survive in the aftermath of the collapse, and he has no loved ones.