User Rating: Very Good
Bang For The Buck
Long story setup
Overall doesn't stand out against other films I've seen
The Bottom Line: With an ending that sets up for the second movie, Hunger Games is great for the fans, but only par for the non-fan. I Mildly Recommend.
You’re running through the woods to escape kids your age who are also trying to kill you. You have the option of going for the knife or the backpack. Whichever you choose, you’ll find yourself at the mercy of whomever’s guarding it. What do you do?
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Welcome to the Hunger Games and may the odds be forever in your favor.
Based on a trilogy of books, The Hunger Games tells the tale of a post-apocalyptic world where the rich stay in the Capitol while the poor maintain third-world lives in the surrounding twelve districts. Each year, the Capitol harvests one boy and one girl from each district to compete in “The Hunger Games”. These youths are then pitted against one another in a battle royal where only one can stand victorious.
The film opens with Katniss “Kat” Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in the mining colony of District 12. When given the chance, she hunts for whatever wildlife she can find to feed her family to avoid government handouts. The more food the government gives you, the more times your name is put in a drawing to compete in the Hunger Games. When that fateful day comes where the selection is to take place, Kat’s younger sister, Primrose, is selected. To prevent Primrose from having to compete, Kat volunteers to take her place. Along with Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), who is also selected from District 12, Kat is whisked off to the Capitol to be processed.
The Hunger Games is a pretty straight forward movie. There were no major plot twists or turns that would surprise you. The outcome of the Hunger Games is pretty much a given due to the film’s narration. All this to say that it is a straightforward action movie. Similar to Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), the build up to the plot’s catalyst takes nearly an hour. They spend this first hour of the film getting you emotionally invested in Kat. None of the other “Tributes” received sufficient attention to merit a second thought.
Prior to the Hunger Games, Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) is assigned to train Kat and Peeta. During this time, Haymitch foreshadows the opening moments of the Hunger Games including the initial bloodbath that kicks things off. While I generally associate Woody Harrelson with playing a drunk, a cowboy, a pervert, or a drunken perverted cowboy, he pulled Haymitch off rather well. Harrelson emphasized the point that Haymitch was personally invested in the survival of Kat and Peeta.
While Donald Sutherland is another notable actor in this film, he seemed underused in his role as President Snow. Snow had a few notable lines such as his explanation of how much hope to give people, so the character was more like a sage governing the Hunger Games than a mastermind behind all of what you see.
The combat sequences in Hunger Games are dizzying. The film style shook the camera around to the point where people prone to motion sickness will have to skip this one. That said, the intensity is certainly there. Teens stabbing and slicing other teens to pieces is exactly what one should expect from this film. The only question I would ask at this point is if the actors were actually fighting or if the camera angles made it look like they were. With all that camera shaking, you couldn’t tell if this was just a scrap fight or well choreographed stage combat. Yet, the hunt or be hunted scenes were well filmed with a straightforward camera style that is highlighted with a musical score to fit the mood.
I’ll admit that going into this movie, I had many comparisons to The Running Man (1987) starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The visual effects in this film are up to par with any modern film, but so were those in Running Man. It was in the details that I had to make distinctions. In The Running Man, gladiators like Dynamo and Buzzsaw graced the killing field. The Hunger Games featured the careers and other key Tributes who were more passionate about their violence than the average civil person. The concept of society being based around these slaughter-fests is present in both films, though the idea of selecting teens came from Battle Royal (an anime). The game show approach to death is a common theme in both films. In the Running Man, new gladiators were introduced to decrease the chance of survival. The Hunger Games used mutated, Serastone enhanced hounds. While not as gory as Running Man, the Hunger Games features some very intense combat to the death. The list goes on and on.
Overall, I would say that the Hunger Games is a decent movie. If you have read the books, I’m sure there’s a lot more in there that you’ll catch than I did. I enjoyed the few touching moments, like the death of Rue, but found that the majority of the film was run of the mill action. The film has more than earned its PG-13 rating with sometimes graphic violence. Considering the film took from The Running Man, Battle Royal (1999), Unreal Tournament (1999), and other media; I expected a bit more from the movie.
In the end, I would tentatively recommend The Hunger Games. While there’s nothing really wrong with the film, there wasn’t anything that really stood out to me.
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Movie Mood: Action Movie
Viewing Method: Other
Film Completeness: Looked complete to me.
Worst Part of this Film: Ending