|It's Just A Game||0 out of 1 user found this review helpful.|
Over a dozen children die by each other's hands during the movie adaptation of The Hunger Games. I should have stumbled out of the theater with a knot in my stomach. Silence and a somber attitude should have accompanied the car ride home. Instead, those of us who saw the movie chatted about the day's events, got some food, and forgot about the what we had just watched.
Seeing twenty-four teenagers, from twelve working class districts, forced to fight to the death for televised amusement should be sickening or so entertaining that it makes the viewer disgusted from getting enjoyment out it. Instead, director Garry Ross seems only concerned with working in the plot of the book, which he fits nicely into the 142 minute running time.
The movie sets up the dichotomy of the world effectively. The rich are heavily manicured, eat only the most decadent meals, and treat The Hunger Games as fictional entertainment. The poor are dirtied, starving, and tortured by their punishment, The Hunger Games, for a previously failed uprising. This realism of the world is squandered the moment they enter the arena. The consequences of death carry such little weight that the uncomfortable nature of the situation is never conveyed.
Some of you might think I'm just void of human emotion, and despite all of the video games I've played, I still feel sad at times. I almost had to leave the theater while watching 50/50 because of how hard I was crying. It is true that violence doesn't have the same shock factor it used to, and with The Hunger Games being a novel for young adults, the PG-13 rating makes sense. This lower rating means that the violence found within the book mostly happens off screen. Even if the viewer doesn't see the brutality, there are many emotions that take place before and after murder that are just as powerful as the deed itself. It is a shame those emotions are never explored.
From the moment the bloodshed starts we never see someone beg for their life. We never see someone in tears as they kill another participant. The occasional wide eyes of shock land on the teenagers faces, but they all too quickly move on. The film cuts away as someone gets stabbed, then cuts back to show us a lifeless and bloodless body. Torture porn, ala the Saw films, is not needed, but the movie never has these characters contemplate their decision to murder. Everyone is so comfortable with what they are doing that it happens too fast and there's little to no emotional trauma after the fact.
The performances are serviceable with the exception of Jennifer Laurence, who plays Katniss Everdeen--she is excellent and carries the film. Even with her strong performance, the emotional connections with other characters falls flat. Ultimately you just don't care about who is being killed, even when the movie wants you to. (Minor Spoiler Ahead) During the games, Katniss makes an alliance with a 12 year old girl. This girl is meant to parallel Katniss' sister, but I only know this because I read the novel. The film's fast pace fails to capture this connection. She is killed in front of Katniss' eyes, but she dies in what seems to be such a painless matter that it makes death seem peaceful. Once she passes, we get a couple of shots of Katniss feeling remorse, but the film hastily leaves that baggage behind. A friend of mine, who enjoyed the books said "I wanted to cry, I even tried, but I felt almost nothing." The film even manages to squander the relationships that readers carried with them into the theater.
The Hunger Games should be an experience that destroys the mental state of the participants and us, the viewers, but it doesn't. Instead, we get a bland action movie with little suspense that seems to miss the point. The book talks about our obsession with entertainment, which is ironically sad because The Hunger Games film is only middling entertainment that would even bore the fictional upper class that is meant to revel in it.
Trailer 3: The Hunger Games
After reading these books, I'm curious as to how they're going to faithfully adapt the gorier portions into a PG-13 movie, but I guess we'll find out in March. They're certainly not showing much in these trailers.
Trailer 2: The Hunger Games
Running Man with kids? This movie is basically everything I've ever wanted.
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