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The Hunger Games

A film directed by Gary Ross based on the book by Suzanne Collins

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"Battle Royale" lite in an intellectually and idealistically distant future.

  • Sep 16, 2012
** out of ****

"The Hunger Games" is based on the first book in the best-selling young adult self-titled trilogy of books written by Suzanne Collins. I have never read any of the three - "The Hunger Games", "Catching Fire", and "Mockingjay" - and the film really does me no favors. Based on fan feedback, I will not for one second believe that this adaptation reflects the quality and depth of the novel; because the film falls short in both departments. But as always, I'm here to judge what I saw (the movie); and what I saw, let me tell you, just wasn't all that good, sorry to say. I'm forgiving of a blockbuster that doesn't underestimate the intelligence and expectations of its audience; which is why I'm not all that forgiving of this one. By my personal definition, it simply doesn't qualify as a good film.

The story takes place in the future; in the nation of Panem, which is what North America became after the Capitol (of which the president is Donald Sutherland) was founded and the surrounding districts (twelve in total) were left to face poverty and the sense of grim, hopeless desolation that can only come from social abandonment. Every year, there is the annual Hunger Games; in which one boy and one girl from each district are chosen to fight each-other to the death in a Capitol-owned arena (conveniently, they're the ones who devised the games). The names of the participants are picked from a lottery of sorts by Effie Trinklet (Elizabeth Banks); and this year, a girl from district 12 named Katniss (Jennifer Laurence) has offered herself as tribute to prevent her beloved younger sister from participating in the games.

Katniss and a boy around her age - Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) - represent district 12. They go to the Capitol, where they are trained for the games by former victor (and apparent alcoholic) Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson). Before the games have even started, they need to make an impression of sorts on television, as this is a world controlled by the media (Stanley Tucci and Toby Jones play popular television personalities). Peeta and Katniss will be presented as star-crossed lovers (to make use of the term), even though they will ultimately have to fight one another in the end, unless the rules are somehow reversed by the end.

I've recently developed a fascination for futuristic sci-fi and big-scale storytelling. It's difficult for me not to compare "The Hunger Games" to the bigger, better, and sometimes smaller but more engaging features in the same vein that I've seen. In this universe, the future is supposed to be both visually and conceptually elaborate (although when is the future not?), although I can only give it credit in the first department. Director Gary Ross is too concerned with over-stylizing his film (the shaky-cam gets annoying fast, and makes you want to kill yourself in the action sequences) to care much about the satirical edge to the film or more importantly the characters. There are interesting themes at play here ranging from feminism to the absence of religion in this world, but do they really mean anything if I just don't care to begin with? This film did nothing for me.

I don't personally recommend "The Hunger Games" because it did not entertain or enlighten me. Most people will probably enjoy the hell out of it; but for some reason, I did not. Perhaps one day I'll give the books a go to see if they're any better (and if there's even the slightest bit more proper character development or emotional resonance, I'm sure they are). All I can say at this point is that I'm not excited for "Catching Fire". The film may be well-cast and overall well-acted (Wes Bentley for once gets the role of an arrogant douchebag, a role which fits him very well; and I liked Harrelson's drunk) but those are pretty much given when you're working in Hollywood. There are good things (spectacular art direction, good James Newton Howard score) and bad things (Ross's awkward direction, the gimmicky camerawork) about this film; although none of them are hardly worth the effort in my humble opinion. But don't listen to me.

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September 19, 2012
we have very similar things to say about this film....
More The Hunger Games reviews
review by . March 23, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Decent...But I Liked This Premise Better When It was Called
“The Hunger Games” had been getting a lot of press and ‘hype’ when word had gotten out that Suzanne Collins’ novel (published in 2008) was going to be adapted into the big screen. Director Gary Ross adapts this dystopian world along with screenwriters Suzanne Collins and Billy Ray into an action-drama. I have to admit the book had garnered quite a following, and this film has been heavily anticipated. I have seen several threads about the controversy due to its similarities …
review by . March 23, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
The Hunger Games is the first of three books written by Suzanne Collins, the other two being Catching Fire and Mockingjay. With a huge opening weekend predicted there is little doubt that the studios will green light the other two movies to have them made as soon as possible. For those who have not read the book I suggest you do as not only is it a quick read but frankly this movie is made more for fans of the book than it is for someone going in knowing nothing about the series. …
review by . May 02, 2012
Full disclaimer, I've not read the books that this movie is adapted from. Before going in I had no idea what to expect from this film except teenagers killing teenagers in a dis-utopian world sometime in the future. I had no knowledge of the story, the characters, the world this film is set in, nothing at all.    Now that that's out of the way, I would like to also state that going into this film I had my reservations. When people you know have probably never read a book in their …
review by . March 23, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
There were few novels as striking and unique as The Hunger Games when it debuted.  When I first read the book a couple of years ago I'd have never thought it would become a phenomenon... much less become a movie.  Not only did I ever think it would become a movie (my first thought was, "How would they do it?") but I certainly didn't think it would become one of the finest films I've seen in some time.  It is a movie that tackles big themes.  Asks big questions.  …
review by . March 21, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
'The Hunger Games' 'Two Jews On Film' Go To Battle Over This Futuristic Dark Fantasy (Video)
               By Joan Alperin Schwartz      I'm sure by now almost everyone is familiar with the story of 'The Hunger Games'.  The book was the first in a trilogy written by Suzanne Collins and all three novels have been on the bestseller list for several years.      But for those people unfamiliar with the story of Katniss Everdeen, the 16 year old girl who competes in The Hunger Games...   …
review by . March 21, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
THE HUNGER GAMES Written by Suzanne Collins and Gary Ross Directed by Gary Ross Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth   President Snow: Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.   Having just finished reading the incredibly addictive Suzanne Collins novel, and having fallen completely in love with the heroine, Katniss Everdeen, in the process, I could barely breathe before seeing Gary Ross’s film adaptation of THE HUNGER GAMES. I was downright giddy …
review by . March 24, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         That The Hunger Games is so timely and intelligent is precisely the reason why it’s also so frightening. It depicts a time and place in which the failures of mass society are exploited for the entertainment of the privileged few. In this case, it’s in the form of an annual competition to the death, one that’s captured via hidden cameras and aired for the rest of the world to see. Whatever they call it in this alternate reality, …
review by . April 21, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
      There's something about this movie that makes me like it more than I should. I don't know what... but I know it's there. I've never read the books so when I saw it I had no idea what to expect. Fortunately for me I was pleased with the product and it's like it became one of my guilty pleasure movies.      The Hunger Games strives away from the usual and synthesizes elements that are rarely common in movies like these. The story serves …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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  • The Hunger Games
  • Opened March 23, 2012 | Runtime:2 hr. 22 min.
  • PG-13
    Intense violent thematic material and disturbing images - all involving teens
  • Information for parents: Common Sense Media says Iffy for 13+. Read More
  • Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the 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. Sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen volunteers in her younger sister's place to enter the games, and is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch Abernathy when she's pitted against highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives. 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.
  • Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland
  • -fandango.com
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    Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama

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