Tag Archives: the hunger games

Movie Review: The Hunger Games

Title:
The Hunger Games
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Wes Bentley, Lenny Kravitz
Director: Gary Ross
Writing Credits: Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, Billy Ray
Distributor: Lionsgate
Running Time: 142 minutes
Philippine Release Date:
22 March 2012

Official Movie Synopsis:
Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the evil 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.

Pitted against highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives, Katniss is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch Abernathy. If she’s ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Official Movie Trailer:

Review In A Nutshell:
To say that The Hunger Games is one of my most anticipated movies this year would be pretty apt.  But as pre-production kicked in high gear and during the marketing stage, it made me dread seeing it. It was slightly reduced though and made me hope… but it wasn’t enough.

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The Tribute Cast of The Hunger Games (Image c/o Vanity Fair)

To say that adaptation of The Hunger Games is one of my most anticipated movies this year would be pretty apt.  I’ve read all three books in the series and I loved it; it was begging to be adapted for the big screen thus you can imagine how excited I was when I learned that a studio bought its movie rights in 2009. It took two years in pre-production (hell) before things started to go on full throttle, which I expected somewhat from Lionsgate. My interest didn’t wane despite that. However, something happened as pre-production kicked in high gear and in the marketing stage that made me dread seeing it on the big screen. It was slightly reduced though after seeing the official trailer and made me hope… but it wasn’t enough.

"I'm not allowed to bet but, if I could, I'd bet on you." - Cinna
Photo by Murray Close

For all intents and purposes, The Hunger Games will definitely satisfy fans of the book since it was a very faithful adaptation. How can it not be when the author herself, Suzanne Collins, co-wrote the screenplay? Gary Ross, the director and co-writer, partnered well enough with Suzanne to ensure that book fans will not be disappointed while allowing the movie to attract even the non-book readers. Since watching the movie last Thursday evening, I’ve come across more than a handful of people buying box sets of the series. Seeing that made me smile, enough for me to want to re-read the books and start visualizing the actors who played the characters I loved in my head — all of whom did a good job of translating their roles to the big screen despite early misgivings and fan uproar that prompted Gary Ross and Suzanne Collins to write open letters to justify their selection. At the time, it seemed necessary since a lot was at stake given the reception of the book series. Now, if anything, I’d rather get open letters from most of the film’s creative, marketing and technical crew for making me feel as if I read and saw the book the wrong way in my head.

More Film Highlights
(Image c/o The Hunger Games Official Facebook page)

Perhaps the biggest issue I have with the movie is the love triangle among Katniss, Peeta and Gale which is non-existent… I repeat, NON-EXISTENT… in the books.  I’m deeply reminded of the Harmonian tone in the Harry Potter franchise — yes, I’m looking at you, Steven Kloves — that felt utterly wrong. And please, dear Lionsgate, just because you recently acquired a studio that started the Team vs. Team idea gives you the right to use it. It doesn’t work with this franchise and it never will. For someone like me who digs rom-coms and chick flicks, I was squirming in my seat whenever scenes alluding to the love triangle appeared. This overshadowed my other issues — which are relatively minor and forgivable given its somewhat pint-sized budget — like the costumes (Uh, I didn’t realize that Capitol Couture equals the need to exhaust the brightest colors of the spectrum. I was expecting it to be a little more refined, classy yet crazy with the tailoring. Something like the clothes I see on the fashion runways of Paris and Milan), the special effects (I know the fire is artificial but it looks too amateurish.),  the score (To quote any of the AI judges, it was pitchy and off in spots.) and the editing… Oh yes, the EDITING!

If only the movie editing was as sharp and precise as Seneca Crane's razor...
(Image c/o Capitol Couture)

The editing is my second biggest problem because it made the movie feel numb and flat. Given the rich source material, plus the author’s heavy involvement, I can imagine, even bet, that a lot of it was shot but ended up being chucked in the cutting room, which resulted in a half-baked, almost dry finished product. If anything, the book series had a great emotional depth that a lot of actors would kill to play off it.  Unfortunately, those emotional points didn’t linger long enough.  I was almost hearing someone say “Next!” before it cuts to a new scene. Therefore, I demand a director’s cut DVD or Blu-ray which would contain 30-40 minutes worth of emotional, gut-wrenching material. Heaven knows how I cried when I read the book; the movie didn’t do half as much.  Also, I’m not sure if I’m the only one who finds Katniss not being hungry — I was expecting her to shove food in her mouth when she first stepped on the train — ironic.

I get why the critics loved The Hunger Games and the movie is worth their attention, moreso with its fans.  I think that if I saw it again — which I definitely will — it’ll allow me to forgive the adaptation a little more but I don’t believe it’ll make me change how much I detest the studio’s uninspired marketing strategy and that bizzare love triangle.

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My Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

My Two Cents:
Watch it in a cinema near you. It is worth seeing it on the big screen. And if you haven’t read the books, I sincerely hope you’ll grab a copy after watching it so that you can enjoy Suzanne Collins’ world on a different level. 🙂

Other Fun Stuff:

– The Hunger Games B-Roll

– The Hunger Games Unscripted

– Wes Bentley’s shout-out to Seneca Crane’s Beard Facebook Page (lol)

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