May the odds be ever in your favour.
Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games. A twisted punishment for a past uprising and an ongoing government intimidation tactic, The Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which “Tributes” must fight with one another until one survivor remains.
The Games. I was in two minds when I went to watch this movie last night. Most, if not everyone knows it is based on the novels that have recently come to fame and I had been hearing mixed reactions about the film. With that in judgment, I had to see what the fuss was all about. I have seen the trailer which is thankfully quite deceiving. However, to a certain amount of viewers in the world this film will remind you of the all-time Asian horror classic “Battle Royale”. From this film I saw the concept which “The Hunger Games” came from, book or no book. I have to report the film was enjoyable to a certain degree, but is not without fault.
Our story begins differently, where we don’t get any intro to our cast; instead we get to learn about them as the film progresses (however much we do learn about them). The cast is absolutely sublime, with a whole host of familiar (and a few surprising) faces. As for the acting it was believable with a few scenes that could be heartfelt, dependant on the person viewing.
One feature I didn’t like is that a couple of stars get a lot more screen time than others. I understand in some reasons why, but in this film I felt there should have been more character building for many of the actors– especially those competing. Even though there are 24 competitors in the “Games” it only felt like maybe 6 or so really counted, which is kind of sad. I wanted each character to be unique or at least stand out more than the rest, not to say some don’t– it just wasn’t enough.
I really like the story and it had a great build-up towards the game, though I couldn’t help but feel this was an Americanised version of “Battle Royale” except not pulled off with the same pizazz. Sadly, the film (for me) started to flounder once we enter the games…and then further more as it progresses. Even though it was a 2hr22min movie, it can feel slightly rushed.
As for the cinematography, it’s a hit or miss. We are given some really lovely shots of the “city” as well as the more rural elements of the world, with the rest of the film taking place in a lush forest where the game takes place. On the negative side, a lot of the camera work feels “rushed” or perhaps not as polished. We get some very jerky scenes and certain views felt too zoomed in. I wanted to see more surrounding the characters at times, rather than the zit on one of their chins. For the most part it is decent camera work, just expect some sporadic motions.
What really shone in this film would have to be the set pieces and makeup/wardrobe. They are absolutely marvellous. It is as if you are stepping into another reality or world, so to speak. The colours and lifestyles are quite eccentric, but it had to be, to make the film stand on its own in that aspect. There isn’t much else in the terms of special effects, apart from the transportation system and control room for the games. It has a slight sci-fi vibe, but a very small one.
This film has a few faults. Personally, I felt like the movie was in 3 segments. The first being quite splendid, while the last two parts quite dismal. I did want to enjoy it more, but I struggled. The chemistry between our two protagonists at times was…forced and felt a little unnatural. They do try and throw you off some what (or more for a moment), however it doesn’t last very long. It is a great concept, kill or be killed and is very character driven, but needed more depth…a whole lot more! This is the first in a trilogy, so let’s hope they improve on it.
At the end of the day, “The Hunger Games” feels kind of like a “cop out”. It has a great premise, cast (those that do get used) and environments, but it is missing that something special that makes it REALLY stand out from the rest. I have a feeling other viewers will enjoy this film a lot and will ignore or not bother about my qualms. I don’t feel this film is for everyone and a certain audience will gobble it up. At the moment it is doing impeccably well at the box office, grossing $532million on a budget of $78million.
Worth the watch if: You are a fan of the novels, are looking for an adventure with a difference or want to watch a yank knock off of “Battle Royale”.
|Title:||The Hunger Games (2012)|
|Leading Cast:||Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny|
|Writer:||Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, Billy Ray|
|Studio:||Lionsgate, Color Force|
|Genre:||Action, Drama, Sci-Fi|
|Running Time:||142 Minutes|
|Release Date:||13 April 2012 (South Africa)|