Rants for the Riff Raff: The Hunger Games
I went into this movie with very little knowledge. I haven’t read the books, I haven’t been following any of the promotional material, and I only saw the trailer once. I had heard about it, and kind of knew the story, but for the most part I was going in blind.
Overall, I liked it. The acting is solid, the costume, makeup, and set designs are amazing, and it’s pretty entertaining for the entire 2 1/2 hour run time. Some performances stand out more than others. Jennifer Lawrence captures the strength, intelligence, and vulnerability of heroine Katniss wonderfully. Woody Harrelson plays Haymitch, a Hunger Games winner turned alcoholic mentor for the tributes. His mix of cynicism and hope make him impossible not to watch. Stanley Tucci plays Caesar Flickerman, talk show host/kind of commentator for the Games. With his blue hair and toothy smile, you hate what he represents but can’t help but get sucked into his charm.
The story is pretty powerful. The Hunger Games are an annual event in which the powerful Capital takes two tributes, one male and one female between the ages of 12 and 17, from each outlying district. These 24 children are then forced to fight to the death until only one remains while the world watches on. Survival is the main goal, but the only way to do that is to entertain. Sponsors will drop in little capsules filled with food or medicine to whichever tribute they like the best, forcing the combatants to try and put on a good show while simultaneously trying to kill each other.
Yet even with all of that, I was somewhat underwhelmed by this film. I did not find myself as engrossed in the story as I was expecting. The ending was clear from the beginning, so although Katniss is frequently in danger, I was never that worried.
Sometimes the characters do interesting things in interesting ways, but sometimes they just kind of do things. Before the Games start, the tributes all train with each other. The main characters, Katniss and Peeta, have been told by Haymitch not to show off their true skills, in order to surprise the others on the battlefield. However, Peeta has taken this too much to heart, and is doing nothing but failing, which makes him look weak. At Katniss’s urging, he decides to show off his strength. So, he picks up a heavy metal ball and throws it at a rack of spears, knocking a couple off. The other tributes are strangely impressed by this, and the film moves on. This is the last time he ever throws anything. His fabled “strength” never again comes into play. He spends the rest of his time getting into situations that only Katniss can save him from.
I also found myself really bothered by trivial things for no particular reason. Characters rave about Katniss’s bow shooting abilities, but she always seems to need at least two shots to hit her target. Not a big deal, but I couldn’t help but notice it. There are a couple times when a character is about to give a killing blow, but then stops and monologues for a bit, giving our heroes more time to get their act together and retaliate. This happens in countless movies, but it really bugged me this time.
Really, these are all just nitpicks. The movie is good. It is worth the $10 ticket price. It’s not the best movie you’ll ever see, but it’s far from the worst. It’s intelligent, well directed, and pretty to look at. I just don’t see it as something that will still be watched and talked about in 10 years.
By: Will Bray
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