Sunday, July 1, 2012

Beyond "The Hunger Games" Hype

For months I've had friends aplenty reading the entire Hunger Games trilogy, so when my friends were touting the amazement from the rooftops, I had to retain my air of detached skepticism.  It's what I do.

I admittedly had read about a chapter and a half of "Hunger Games" before I felt like I was being bored to tears and wanted to skip ahead.  While I did get assurances of it getting better, I had my doubts so I abandoned ship.

So now "The Hunger Games" has been out long enough to make it to the sweet spot of risk.  When you are low on cash about the last thing I wanted to do was risk my dollars on some B-grade sci-fi flick at full price. Now that it had made it to my local discount theater it reached that low-risk sweet spot.

The first third of the movie suffered from NYPD Blue Syndrome.  That is what I term the documentary, shaky-cam style of shooting that seems like it's done so unnecessarily like it was the first season of NYPD Blue.  Shaky-cam style must be used sparingly lest your audience feel like they need motion sickness pills with their popcorn.  And frankly darting from caked on makeup to someone's elbow really doesn't add to the drama.

As well, our thrusting into post-apocalyptic was a little disorienting.  I had heard who Effie was from people who had already read the novels and seen the movie, but had I not listened to anyone say anything about this movie, I would have no idea who the wild, pink-haired, hostess was.  I still don't really recall her true introduction, except possibly in passing from Haymitch, and even then I'm not sure her name was actually mentioned.  When the movie was over I had to read the credits to figure it out.

As with most films, this one started to pick up when Stanley Tucci's character, Caesar. As an actor, I contend that addition of him somehow will pick up any sort of middling film. From then on, he ushered in a better sense of continuity, as though maybe in adapting the film they didn't quite know how to get us to where we needed to be in order for the main action to take place.

From then on, it was quite good with the only real distraction being the inability to film a decent fight scene.  Some critics have argued that the director was concerned about showing too much detail in teens killing each other.  While this is a valid concern, a decent fight scene doesn't necessarily have to show up-close gore to be effective.  Instead, fight scenes often were tedious because the audience member often didn't know which end was up.  Did the hero/heroine get the upper hand or did the enemy?  I believe it had more to do with directors not really knowing how to film a fight scene so as not to show too much detail and yet give the audience visual clues as to what is going on.  This was evident in the first three Bourne films.  The first Bourne film had amazing fight scenes, whereas the director of the subsequent two obviously didn't have that same eye.

All-in-all, it was a decent film. However, not nearly the landmark, GREAT movie that I had heard people raving about for months.  In my opinion, many walked into the film with a story that they gushingly fell in love with ahead of time, often spending sleepless nights to finish.  Since they obviously did a decent job of translating book to screenplay, the rose-colored glasses that came with the novel, remained on through the entire film.

However, those of us who wanted the pure film experience I believe will find it amusing, entertaining, but certainly not of the caliber of say "The Avengers."


  1. I read the books and loved the first one. The second one wasn't as good as the first one and the third was less entertaining as the 2nd. So I think that they went a bit downhill. I wasn't in love with the movie but I will say that they did a good adaptation of the novel. I'll probably see the rest when they come out but I agree, I don't think that they are "epic." And I also think that a lot of people go in with rose colored glasses because they are so in love with the novels.

  2. I respectfully disagree. It is so rare to find a book that captures the imaginations of so many age groups and have it translated to the big screen so faithful to the book. The "shaky" camera effect fit the dystopian theme if the novels so well. The book and film are about so much more than an apocalyptic society. The themes of friendship and loyalty run strong. I'm at a loss to how you could begin the book "bored" when Suzanne Collins jumps into the action of the reaping so well. I was immediately drawn in to care about the characters.

    Thank you forvt the movie review from your perspective.

  3. I disagree, too, but it's always nice to see things from other viewpoints. (I actually saw a comment just the other day from a fellow geek on facebook and was surprised to hear that he also fell into the non-Hunger-Games-loving category. It's just a good reminder that we don't all have the same tastes.) I had avoided the books at first, simply because of all the hype (and I usually find myself disappointed when things are over-hyped like that) but when I did finally pick them up I was not at all disappointed.

    About the whole rose-colored glasses thing... I'm sure that's probably true for some people. For me, though, I'm usually tougher on a movie, and come into it with a much-harder-to-please attitude when it's an adaptation of a book that I loved. (Experience has taught me that usually movie adaptations are bad, so I'm always very critical and overly analytical from the start.) That's just me, though.

  4. Since I have neither read the books, nor seen the movie, I cannot comment. What does that make me? A Hunger Games dissenter in general? *LOL*