Sunday, 25 March 2012

24/03/2012: The Hunger Games [2012]

For those of you who have read the books, I'm sure that there was little question as to whether or not you were going to see The Hunger Games in theatre when it opened up. For those like myself, who have not read the book, it was a bit of a question as to whether or not this would be something worth seeing. I can tell you that, it doesn't set the bars any higher, but it is still a great movie and not a waste of a trip to the theatre.

I think by the time the movie was even beginning to be mentioned most people had already heard about the books by Suzanne Collins and even though they were written for young adults they became rather popular with adults as well. However, I never did get around to reading them,  even when people really started to read them in anticipation of the movie. As such I have no ground to compare the movies to the books, and can not vouch for how well they follow. I will say I've read they're fairly accurate with the usual drawback of depth, which always happens when taking a book to the screen.

Of course even for those who did not know of the books source material, there was still a lot of controversy over The Hunger Games originality. The idea of children in a dystopian society fighting to the death in a tournament is by no means new. Most critics can sight many previous ideas in both cinema and literature, such as The Most Dangerous Game as having already used the same ideas. However the most notable criticism and comparisons come with mention of the Japanese film Battle Royale, released in 2000. The movie is about a group of Japanese school children who are forced into a fight to the death by their government. Battle Royale is also based on a book, and feature many of the elements present in The Hunger Games, even the love story.

Suzanne Collins still maintain she had never heard  of Battle Royale until after publishing her book. However, Batle Royale is described as the more mature version of The Hunger Games, as it contains enough ultra-violence to get itself banned in many countries. The Hunger Games is a PG movie, which many believe is targeted towards the twilight crowd. This brings us to the other controversy, of whether The Hunger Games is mature enough to attract older audiences and whether it is something that should be PG.

On the first note, I will say that my theater was manly filled with people over the age of twenty, including a large number of couples somewhere north of thirty-five. So clearly the movie is attracting the older audiences. As for whether it should be PG? I have no problem with letting a child see it. Yes it features children killing other children. Decades ago that would never have graced the screen, and now it targets teenagers. I was even surprised by how brutal the film got, with some bloody bludgeoning, neck snapping, and knife fighting occurring. While some parents may find this subject taboo for their children, I found it no more child disturbing than the weird events that I've heard occur in Twilight these days. (I stopped at the second, but hear things got really weird) The Hunger Games handles it subject matter maturely and appropriately for its age range.

It must have been the same wardrobe designer as Willy Wonka.
I am a little disappointed by that but of well. Now clearly I've establish how very surprisingly controversial The Hunger Games somehow became, but how is it as a movie. I will say this, I found it very predictable, and not really anything completely original. However this does not stop it from being a great movie, as it still exceeds some schlock that comes to theatres. The plot, while boiled down from the book, is still a good one, but it is the acting and the imagery that make this movie. Jennifer Lawrence fits the role perfectly, and I was a little surprised to see Josh Hutcherson, but he does a great job.

As for the scenery, we get everything from post-apocalyptic shanty towns, to advanced metropolises, to beautiful forests. What more can you ask for. The CGI, was not overused and works great. One of my favourite visual effects was the contrast between the district peoples and the colourful people of the city. While they were rather wacky looking it was an interesting contrast.

The biggest problem I had with the movie was, a rather small one and was simply, what cruel author would screw over Gale (Liam Hemsworth) so cruelly. In reality it seems like he is our biggest hint to a sequel, which while exist in the books, are not yet certain on film. But including him in the movie seemed rather cruel. Spend 15 minutes developing his relationship and love for Katniss, then just rub his face in the dirt (metaphorically) the rest of the movie. Thanks for that.

The odd were in his favour, or maybe they weren't
Clearly Gale's chances come in the sequels, which with The Hunger Games shattering a number of box office records with a gross of over $155 million in a matter of days. (in comparison to John Carters $68 million in 3 weeks) it is clear we will be seeing the next two books adapted to the screen, with most of the cast signed on.

So do I think The Hunger Games is the greatest movie ever? No. Should you see it in theaters. Yes. Should you ignore all the controversy and just enjoy it. Absolutely Yes. I might even read the books, just because I don't want to wait another couple years.

Sorry for the screens but they wouldn't let me snap any in the theater with my phone you know.

The Hunger Games IMDB

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