Sunday, March 25, 2012

"The Hunger Games" Review

    We all knew this was coming. I couldn't call myself a film critic if I didn't review this. It grossed $155 MILLION this weekend alone. It is one of, if not THE, most anticipated films of 2012. The hype is legendary. The fans are vocal. The film is finally here. Does it live up to the hype? Let's find out.


    The Hunger Games is based off of the first book in a trilogy written by Suzanne Collins, which follows Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) as they are selected to compete in a winner-take-all death match with 22 other kids. 
    Now, if that premise doesn't sound familiar... then you were probably just born. Films such as Battle Royale and Death Race both have very similar premise and there are many others that are like this as well. However, The Hunger Games does manage to rise above many of these other films, mostly due to the strongest part of the film: It's characters.
    All the characters we get to know are very likable and well done. Other than Katniss and Peeta, there's Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), a mentor, Cinna (Lenny Kravitz), a costumer, Effie (Elizabeth Banks), a... thing and Stanley Tucci's Caesar, a TV host. All the characters are memorable, though Banks is particularly underused, with hardly an explanation of who the hell she is and Kravitz disappears after the first hour. The relative genericness of the story is allowed to work because the characters, especially Katniss, are easy to connect with and you do root for them. I do want to see a sequel, as long as these characters are along for the ride, though, maybe the director Gary Ross can do something else...

Just say mo.

    While it may not be entirely Ross's fault, the shaky cam used on the film is severely overdone, making some scenes difficult to watch. However, they pale in comparison to the film's action scenes, which may very well be the some of the worst action scenes ever put to film. The shaky cam is laughably bad, as it is near-impossible to see what is going on and to who it's happening to. In fact, the shaky cam's overuse is one of the factors that dramatically hurts the film's VERY lackluster ending.
    While I get that the last minute twist that the two sole survivors, Katniss and Peeta, were told they would both win if they were together, but know one has to kill the other, was done (probably to better effect) in the book, however in the film, it is done in such a horrible fashion that it can be seen as a large anti-climax for the whole two and a half hour film. The time it takes from "You must kill the other person" to "You can both live" is literally two short minutes, making the twist feel like less of a shocker and more of an afterthought. On top of that, the twist is explained in the book, but not in the film, leaving it a sore reminder that it's only here to please the fans.

This may not have been my best plan.

    In the end, The Hunger Games is nowhere near the film the hype would have us believe. Don't get me wrong, I did really enjoy the movie. The characters were great and backed by great actors. The story manages to rise above the many others that are like it. The film does manage to reach a good level of intensity. However, what keeps the movie down is it's god-awful action scenes, the fact that it can still be pretty generic and silly and it's ending tries so hard to please the fans of the book that the film actually suffers for it. The Hunger Games may not be the film we've all be waiting for, but it certainly is a great thrill ride. The Hunger Games gets 5 stars out of 6.

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