Sunday, April 1, 2012

Hunger Games

Several hundred years into the future, two teens (one male/one female) from each of twelve governmental districts are chosen by lottery to partake in The Hunger Games, a national spectacle where the participants fight to the death on national television until there is one survivor.

It's blood-dripping reality TV that takes on a bizarre twist with all the pomp and ceremony leading up to the big event. Creepy.

The film centers on Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence, a tough and nimble gal who volunteers for the games when her younger sister is chosen. Lawrence is on-screen for nearly every shot, something she pulled off well before in "Winter's Bone". She'll be a big star now.

It's a good story, something American cinema desperately needs to break out of it's comic book fad. Also appreciated is the lack of over blown digital effects, another sad trend.

On the negative side, slow moving. I had hard time focusing my attention to what was going on before me. I'm thinking that I wasn't the only one since there seemed to be way to much conversation happening among my fellow theater goers, many of whom walked out early.
My estimate, maybe 15% of those who started the show did not finish. What started out as a nearly full room produced several empty seats around me before closing time.

Or, it may have been the 'shaky camera' style. This is where stable-image techniques are nearly abandoned for handheld camera work. This element is fine for some things, like the D-Day landing in "Saving Private Ryan", but totally sucks when 90% of the movie is filmed this way.
I think more than 90% of the movie was filmed this way. I was getting motion sickness just sitting there. By the time the end credits rolled, I was sick to my stomach. Almost too queasy to make the drive home. It was bad.

Be warned.
This is a difficult movie to watch, but not for it's subject matter.
Sequels are already in the works. I won't be seeing any of them if filmed in the same manner.


Brian said...

I hated the shaky camera too. I think it was in part used to keep the blood from being too explicit, to get a PG-13 rating.

But I thought the slow pace was a feature, not a bug.

Gino said...

the slow pace didnt have to be bad. there is something to be said for developing details and context to a story. what was presented was necessary. the issue for me is that it just wasnt done well.

Jade said...

The pace seemed fast to me, but that's because I read the book and I know all the parts they left out for the sake of putting it into film.

I think the camera shake during the games and the reaping was to make it feel documentary-esque (that's why they did it for the new BSG) I do recommend sitting further away from the movie screen than you normally would, that seemed to help for us and our potential motion sickness.

As a reader, I'm impressed with how they managed to get so much information out via the announcers. Almost all of the book is Katniss' internal dialog, and I was curious to see how they were going to get the information out for the film audience (would she talk to herself?) Using the announcers to explain things like the tracker jackers, etc... was excellent.

This actress also did a great job of playing a young Mistique in X-Men First Class - I was really impressed with how she played Katniss - right down to visibly shaking before going into the tube for the games (at that point I actually said "wow!" out loud)

My husband called it "A cross between Logan's Run and Running Man" but he enjoyed it and picked up on all the subtle things that I thought only a reader of the books would notice. That says a lot about the film makers.

Gino said...

Jade: i'm not a fiction reader. you think i should be just for this one book?

such is the problem with movies made from books. i'm always wary of them, but Winter's Bone worked so well on film (not having read the book) i took the chance on this one.

oh, and second row from the top wasnt far enough to help me on this one. i was still sick.

i really wanted to love this flick, but couldnt.
that pains me, really.

Jade said...

Gino - Well, *I* enjoyed the book, but I'm an avid Sci Fi fiction reader, and I read young adult (which this is geared towards) so I'm biased. At least reading the book will not make you seasick. I will warn you, Katniss does have her "I'm 17 and in turmoil" moments, but she is a strong fighter, and the entire story (3 books long) is really interesting. The arc is not much more in depth than the movie itself.

Usually my problem with movies made from books is that I read the book first, so I'm aware of just how much of the story is being left out (Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings) Some of the better movies from books are movies made from short stories (Shawshank Redemption, Stand By Me)because there is time to get the whole story into the film. In the case of Hunger Games, I understand the effect they were going for with that shooting style, but I think it's too bad that the style of filming is stopping people from enjoying the story behind it - because of that alone I would recommend the book - particularly if you want to know what happens in the next two without stomach upset.