Posted by: greercn | April 11, 2012

The Hunger Games

Sales of bows and arrows are bound to increase. It’s interesting to note that killing with the same weapon wasn’t much good for sales when it was used in “We Need To Talk About Kevin”.

But this is a kiddie movie, aimed at the “Twilight” set, so bows and arrows are really, really cool. if you’re the parent of tweens, you’ll be pestered for this gift.

Do think carefully about whether your child is a hero or a psychopath, before you give in.

I started looking at my watch about 30 minutes in, when I got fascinated by one character’s facial hair, which seemed to be in the shape of Batman’s signal, slightly abstracted. Wes Bentley?

If you love reality TV and video games, you’ll adore all 144 minutes of this.

All those awful names that sound like text speak gone nuts! Peeta! In the dystopic future, people spell Peter as if they have British accents and they can’t spell?

This is not the worst of the many, many annoyances, for any sentient being.

It’s the future. It’s bad. Twenty-four teenages need to go to “The Hunger Games” each year to make up for nasty rebellions in their 12 home zones. Only one will come back alive.

One piece of good news is that girls are equal to boys in the future. That should simplify all those pesky sporting debates, taking place in the present.

Katniss sounds like something I should buy my cat, but Jennifer Lawrence brings a great deal of joy and energy to the role.

You need to accept that Katniss would prefer Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) over Gale (Liam Hensworth) and you need to suspend disbelief about hunger – at best, these teens are slightly snack-deprived, but no more – but do ride along.

There are some great joys here from Donald Sutherland’s eyebrows, in a new solo role and from Stanley Tucci and Lenny Kravitz.

Just for one, Woody Harrelson makes me forget “Cheers”.

Of the kids, Amandla Stenberg stands out as being criminally pretty and very engaging.

Brooke Bundy’s makeup deserves an Oscar but Gary Ross needs some of his unending time trimmed, in his directing. 

For a kiddie power movie, ths would need to pull me in as a adult a whole lot more than just thinking “ooh, there’s a WW2 film convention” or “that scene is just like a Western”. And the music would need to be less derivative. I was humming along to the Hollies “Bus Stop” during the second to last song and the tunes matched up.

There are some great moments here, but these are only moments. If I were you, I would skip the movies and the first two Suzanne Collins’ books and go straight to reading “Mockingjay”. which brings all the strands of “plot” together and has terrific scenes and characters.

If “John Carter” had half as many dolls, fast food toy things and publicity, it would have done a lot better than this movie.

Okay, I am a tad contrarian and resent the huge publicity and critical gush around this film. But if I hadn’t looked at my watch quite so often, I would have enthused more.

I don’t like video game style killing. And I don’t like soft focus. And there is WAY too much of both here. Further, creepy cosmetics and sets make me want to rebel against everything.

This will not trouble my top 10 or video collection. The Stratford Picturehouse audience were beyond restless into wandering around with phone apps, but telling each other it was great, afterwards. That’s the power of advertising.

The emperor has no clothes. Jennifer and Liam and Woody are terrific. Let’s put them into a decent picture, that doesn’t have me looking at my watch every five minutes.

See this if you are a slave to mass communications and critcal feeding frenzy. Otherwise, just say no.



  1. I enjoyed it far more that you seem to have, but then I was particularly in the mood for mindless Hollywood teen murder flick. I also haven’t read the books.
    In fact, I hadn’t even heard of The Hunger Games until about two weeks before the film was released – and I’m supposed to be a geek!
    I agree with the stand-out performances. Woody Harrelson ought to be in most films, and blew me away in Rampart.

    • I was prepared to like it a lot more, and was probably influenced by how well it has been received compared to “John Carter” which I enjoyed a lot more. I think there were great moments, but it still glorifies dying and I really do believe that dying is a bad thing. For me, the key factor was quite how often I was peeking at my watch and distracted by silly hair and makeup. And, as you know, I hate reality TV and video games and this had so many conventions of both. Thanks for the intelligent and thoughtful comment.

  2. Greer, I loved your juxtaposition of We Need to Talk about Kevin and The Hunger Games, the seriousness and artistry of the former highlighting the silliness of the latter. Funnily enough, this week’s Cabin in the Woods adds yet another take on teen-on-violence for the edification of the old. Of the three, I found The Hunger Games the least satisfying.

    • Thank you, Andrew, for a terrific comment! It’s a little worrying to think of all those kids running around the parks with bows and arrows, this summer. Water pistols are bad enough. I was going to skip “Cabin” but will now see it, on your recommendation. Why is teen violence so successful as a theme? Am I blaming “Twilight”?

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