Lionsgate’s Gary Ross-directed adaptation of The Hunger Games hits theaters today, and judging from it’s $19 Million midnight haul, plenty of you have seen it already!
From my 8/10 review, “Ultimately ‘The Hunger Games’ is almost a minor miracle. What could have been a quick and easy cash-in on an existing property is instead a carefully considered, thrilling and touching piece of populist entertainment. It’s sort of an exciting prospect that, for the first time in a long time, we’re going to have a pop culture “moment” centered around a film that actually made the effort to tell its story well (even though it’s a shame that this is now the exception to the rule).”
We also have another review for the film – through the lens of someone who has read the books – from BD’s Jonathan Barkan. While he didn’t dislike the film, his take is certainly less enthusiastic than my own. “As a book-to-film adaptation, this rightfully deserves a 9/10. But in terms of my enjoyment of the film, I find that I can’t be so generous.”
In theaters today from director Gary Ross, the film stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Dayo Okeniyi, Amandla Stenberg, Chris Mark, Jacqueline Emerson, Wes Bentley, Lenny Kravitz, Toby Jones, and Stanley Tucci.
Write in with your review now! And hit the jump for Barkan’s take! The Hunger Games – Jonathan Barkan
I feel that I have to throw in my view on The Hunger Games film, as it seems I’m the only reviewer at Bloody-Disgusting that’s also read through the series. As a result, I felt like throwing in my two cents couldn’t hurt anyone, right?
So, let’s get the plot out of the way: in the future, North America, now referred to as Panem, has been divided into 12 districts and a major city known as The Capitol. Every year, each district sends one male and one female between the ages of 12 and 18 to a tournament known as the hunger games. In this tournament, the contestants must fight to the death until only one is left alive. Our protagonist, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), chooses to volunteer in order to take the place of her 12 year old sister, Primrose, who was originally chosen. And so begins the tale.
Split basically into three parts, the movie begins with Katniss and her life in District 12. Thankfully, this section of the film is kept short and direct. Even in the book, nothing of any great importance happened during this segment, aside from the introduction of Gale, Katniss’s best friend and hunting companion. By whittling this down, the film was able to go directly to the second part, which is the preparation for the games themselves. This included training, interviews, planning, etc… And then finally, we get to the games themselves.
This is where the movie shines, but who really expected it to be the most interesting at any other point? The purpose of this book and this movie is to show the games themselves, fueling our need to voyeuristically relish in the slaughter of teenagers (something I fully admit to doing). It would be like saying the best part of Alien is when Kane had the facehugger attached to his face and that the rest of the movie was, well, meh.
For as much as Katniss goes through some incredibly trying and difficult moments during the games, it never seems that she changes all that much or goes through any sort of growth. This could very well be that her character in the book and the movie is just so damn dull. Yup, I said it. I think Katniss is an incredibly boring, selfish character that doesn’t deserve the fascination or appreciation of the audience.
The film was shot very well but had a very bad case of the camera being smack dab in the middle of any sort of action sequence, shaking from side to side as though the cameraman was in the midst of a grand mal seizure. Whatever happened to the days when a fight could be shot from a bit of a distance, allowing the filmgoer to actually understand what is happening?
The movie was also rather uninteresting when it came to the music department. There weren’t any cues that stood out nor did any of them serve to amplify the emotion of the scene. The music was just…there.
I must make it clear that I wasn’t exactly a fan of the books. They were written well enough but nothing about them stood out as anything special. Truly, it felt like (as everyone and their mother have referenced) Koushun Takami’s Battle Royale with a dash of the 1987 sci-fi action film The Running Man. However, the books never captured the same intensity, instead feeling like a lackluster hodgepodge for Twilight fans to salivate over.
That being said, I have to give it to the writers of the film. For a book-to-film adaptation, this movie remained remarkably accurate to the source material. And even though there were a great many details that had to be left out for time constraint purposes, there were several little winks to the audience for those who read the books. For instance, when Katniss leaves the house in the beginning of the film, Prim’s cat hisses at her. Anyone who has read the books will understand how significant that is as the story progressed in the second and third novels.
Speaking of time constraints, the movie, as I said, did a remarkable job of knowing how to take richly detailed scenes from the book and get the most important parts transitioned onto screen. Which is why I found it so strange that I felt like the movie was somewhat too long. At 142 minutes, the film felt like it dragged during some scenes and I shifted in my seat, resisting the urge to look at the time.
In conclusion, I find myself torn. As a book-to-film adaptation, this rightfully deserves a 9/10. But in terms of my enjoyment of the film, I find that I can’t be so generous. In the end, The Hunger Games never thrilled, it never excited, and it ultimately left me bored.
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