The Hunger Games – Review

The Hunger Games – Review

Review by FilmFellaLozz – 4/10

When I first heard about this movie, there was one thing that I was wondering about. And that was the certification. That’s a bit weird; I get that. But the reason for this was solely down to this very brief synopsis that can be summed up in one sentence: A futuristic game (show) where children fight to the death. That’s right; children killing each other until they die from it. The movie is a 12A (PG13)! This was quickly followed up with a further wonder, more of a frustration really: They’ve just gone n’ ripped off The Running Man haven’t they? Followed up by…and Battle Royale…and Gamer…and The Truman Show. Assholes.

Based on the best selling trilogy of books by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games is set in a future America, where 50 states has become 12 districts (Panem). Following a public uprising, a revolution, the government cracks down; and to prevent it from ever happening again, The Hunger Games is devised. A boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district are picked at random (and forced) to compete.  Twenty-four go in. One comes out.

District 12’s unfortunate son of a bitch is Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence). She’s our protagonist. (I believe the book is told from her perspective.) We follow her preening, training and mentoring before the tournament. Basically, she’s made to look pretty for the powers that be. These are the rich bastards in The Capitol, who have made the games into a popular televised game show, honchoed by Donald Sutherland’s despicable president and the ringmaster, Seneca Crane, (Wes Bentley) who calls the shots.

Right then, now that stuff’s out the way: let’s discuss kids killing each other. This is not only for the audience in the movie, but also for us having to endure it. I don’t wanna sound like an old bastard here, but how can this be condoned for a pre-teenage audience? I guess it’s ok for kids to watch kids murder other kids, right! Ok, so The Hunger Games pretty much is Battle Royale, the Japanese movie made in 2000 following a very very similar premise. And although I didn’t like that either, it was R rated, deservedly so for it’s graphic violence and theme. Those crazy Japanese loons. I got the whole thing with the Asia Extreme run of movies; pushing acceptable boundaries for mass audiences. And let me remind you that Battle Royale was banned in several countries prior to its major release. But, what makes The Hunger Games any different? Except for a little bit of blood, not a lot. The idea is more disturbing than the imagery. That’s what’s baffling me.

The tone of the movie is solemn and cold and made me feel a little uncomfortable watching it for 2 and a half hours of my life. The scenes where the children are being chosen and then ripped away from their screaming families isn’t easy viewing. It’s kinda shocking, especially for the target audience. When we’re whisked off to The Capitol for the training, the kids hone their skills together, getting to know one another. This is before they’re expected to stab, slice and gouge each other to death. I didn’t find this an enjoyable watch at all.

So, the moviemaking: any good? Not really. For what was suppose to be the future, the majority of the movie is set in a forest. A special, super duper forest with…trees and bushes and plants n’ stuff. The Capitol was a mass of psychedelic aesthetic that looked like Jean-Paul Gaultier’s wet dream. A flamboyant mess of big hair, stupid made up faces and bizarre facial hair. You couldn’t even get over the ridiculous nature of it all because you’re not there long enough to take it in. Because the games are in the damned forest.  Direction-wise, the action was all over the place, shaky handcam aplenty. This was either a tool to blur the violence, or shitty directing. Actually, I don’t think it has to be an either or. I choose both please. The minimal CGI was for one minute ok, and then the next awful. You wait for the dogs! Stupid fucking dogs. The whole thing looked quite cheap, except for a few nice high definition bits of foliage and shrubbery.

Lawrence was ok; a less dowdy, but equally disgruntled version of Kristen Stewart’s Bella Swan. A particularly unrecognisable Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, one of Katniss’ mentors was….wait for it…..actually alright. I would like to say the same for Woody Harrelson, but no. Bad Woody; go to your room! Sutherland was a mean bastard, but he looks like a mean bastard anyway; even so, he was adequately dastardly.

Oh, I forgot to mention the soppy, pointless love story. A plot device to keep the movie going on and on longer than it had to be. Jesus Christ, if I had to read this at school, as it’s now in some curriculums, I would’ve ended myself long before the bottom of the first page. The love story is used in much the same way The (actual) Hunger Games’ uses it in the movie. To sell it to the audience. The movie (and book) is outright saying ‘I’m putting this in here to keep your attention.’ I think they even say that at one point. Lazy storytelling. A lackadaisical, yet harrowing narrative is a new one on me.

Back to the kids. Did I mention about them hacking each other up and shooting each other with arrows etc?! Well, murder is the worst, right? I’m not trying to hierarchy violence and punishment here, but let’s just say; instead of kids killing kids, why not kids raping each other? And you win by raping as many of the other kids who have avoided a raping until you have your way with them. Or you simply become the victor by not being raped. Sounds ludicrous, doesn’t it? But it’s ok to have them execute each other for our pleasure, for your 12-year old’s pleasure? The whole thing is fucking nuts. And it wasn’t a very good movie either.

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