[Before we get this thing going, it should be noted that I fought hard by not putting “...More Like Hungry Lames” in my title for this post. I see it as a sign of maturity.]
The Hunger Games is an odd sort of meta-film. It has the visual scope of a slightly fancier episode of Xena: Warrior Princess and the character progression of Cast Away. Wherein all the other actors besides Jennifer Lawrence are playing “Wilson: The Soccer Ball.”
And just so we’re clear, this movie is similar to Battle Royale, The Running Man, Logan’s Run, The Long Walk, and even Death Race 2000. So now that we’ve hammered out all the “I’m cool because I watched/read something similar to this one and liked it better” answers, let’s also acknowledge that The Hunger Games has something going for it. Just about every character that engages in stupidity is immediately killed. What more could you hope for?
This glorified Sci-Fi channel meta-flick has a plot you’ve seen before. Kids in the not-too-distant future picked at random to represent their hoods. Based on how attached the audience gets to each of the contestants, this dictates how much help the favored receive. You can guess how much help the star gets [spoiler: more than anyone else]. Actually, I’m pretty sure the star is the only character that gets help out of everyone in the film.
How is this meta? Film and other forms of media have always reflected our general state of manufactured fear. Godzilla was a fear of a foreign entity invading our shores post World War. Zombies films of the 50s and 60s, were a fear of our neighbors turning on us. Later zombie-like films would prove our distrust for science and media coverage (see also: 28 Days Later).
In The Hunger Games, you literally see a world of death and fear being manufactured. There were times where the movie dragged, but it’s okay! A quick cut to a production room creating a giant monster to devour our heroes in the next act will surely instill an uncontrollable tension in the audience. Right?
Referencing the Greek blood-and-death sports of The Bronze Era, where men and women crowded coliseums, were our justifiable means of interpreting extreme emotions through acts of either lust or violence. This is where The Hunger Games excels. In that, it widdles your primitive mind down to either wanting to see love shared or bloodshed. Possibly both, if that’s what you’re in to.
For these very two-dimensional reasons, I kinda dug The Hunger Games. Not for reasons of it being a good movie, but it was pointing out [in a meta-way] as to how movies like these are formulaic and will continue to be unless we, as the main character puts it, “stop watching it.”
You will like The Hunger Games because it doesn’t take any chances. Everything wraps up nicely and it even builds to a sequel. Judging by the recent box office sales reports, you like that kinda stuff.
You won’t like The Hunger Games, because you’re going to realize midway through the film that this world would have been perfect for a Fifth Element sequel, or at the very least, casting a very flamboyant Chris Tucker. Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen did the absolute best out of a flat script. Josh Hutcherson as Peeta is the only character that poses a challenge to the audience. We never know how devout he is to whatever side he’s on until he reveals it.
The worst thing I can say to someone who promotes The Hunger Games as a great movie, that everyone should see is that they hate women and are stupid people.
The portrayal of the typical ‘strong female’ character has been widely discussed by people smarter than myself, so I’ll assume you’ve already read those words. Hunger Games starts off well enough to convince the viewer that the star is doing this to protect her family. Unfortunately, once a love story is introduced, the decisions Katniss Everdeen makes is almost wholly dependent on “who she wants to make babies with.”
Couple this with bad direction, shaky camera movements and assuming the audience is dumber than the one-dimensional bad guys after the star of the show. When you have a scene showing a character using fire [in the woods] to stay warm, only for the local Neanderthals to kill that person without a second thought. Why, in the next scene, show said half-wits camping out under the tree they just discovered their nemesis hiding in? Why didn’t they burn down the tree? It would have solved the sponsor issues [because it’s clear the sponsors only love Katniss].
In the following scenes, the meta-film would get even more so, when the director opts to burn the forest down in order to make things more entertaining. This movie, is absolutely stupid.
Unfortunately, small blips of comedic idiocy doesn’t make The Hunger Games recommendable. Director Gary Ross is hurrying you down a mine shaft and he doesn’t want you to know more about this world or it’s interesting characters. You may actually start caring about them more than the star. I guess that isn’t in the script.
I give The Hunger Games …
The “Unflattering Picture Of Brian Unger” Award