The Hunger Games; hated it. Here’s why, and before anyone reply that I need to read the books; 1) I’m reviewing the movie; I saw Battle Royale twelve years ago. It was both better and 30 minutes shorter and 2) no I don’t; I read Shirley Jackson‘s The Lottery decades ago and it only took 30 minutes to read. Other reasons to follow.
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First, the idea of 142 of film dedicated to entertaining me by showing me the story of children killing children for the amusement of a television audience is morally bankrupt from the word go. If the film wished to develop a theme exploring the decayed moral fiber of a society that would do such a thing perhaps they could have spent less than 3/4 of the film on killing.
Second, the plot required me to work too hard to suspend my disbelief. I am to believe that a shy girl from the sticks brought to the capital to battle to the death with 23 other children and she’s got the wherewithal to turn on a level of media charm and Machiavellian savvy that woos a society so decadent that they get off watching these children kill each other…. live…. on rebroadcast closed- circuit TV? Get real! She would have been awestruck by the disgusting disparity between the poverty of her home territory, an awful knock-off of Butcher Hollow from Coal Miner’s Daughter, and the excesses of the capital all while in the midst of profound terror knowing she was soon to be killed by kids from other territories who’ve been raised since birth, one presumes all Spartan like, to win the games.
Third, the film was so derivative that it looked like a jig-saw puzzle. No it didn’t. It looked like some kid taped a sequence of unrelated pictures together; poorly, with scotch tape.
The film didn’t have the guts to be an acknowledged tribute but instead shyly ripped off other people’s work. It is a bad, if I need to include that word, mash-up. It suffered from this in both plot and imagery. The plot: The Lottery meets Brave New World meets Battle Royale meets Logan’s Run meets Romeo and Juliet though with elements lifted in caricatured form. The imagery: Coal Minder’s Daughter, Branagh‘s Hamlet, Julie Taymor‘s Titus and a bit from the spate of recent fantasy films including Narnia and the Lord of the Rings though like sun beaten bleached playground equipment.
Fourth, the characters were so poorly developed that after nearly 2.5 hours I only remember two of their names. Of the two, Haymitch – a former Hunger Games champion and mentor to the main character Katniss Everdeen, played by Woody Harrelson was entirely likable and I wish the film would have explored how his victory created the man we see on screen.
The male lead, he’s a super strong guy but smaller than Katniss? Really? Woody, well, he was awesome but that’s it for casting success. OK, the MC, Caesar Flickerman played by Stanley Tucci, was well done though not as deliciously over the top as Chris Tucker in The 5th Element but that’s a high standard to meet.
The movie was just god awful garbage. The only redeeming feature was the fact that I at least got a few hours with my wonderful wife.