The Hunger Games
Director: Gary Ross
Writer: Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth
Plot: In the future, the government has collapsed and North America has been broken up into 13 districts. The people in the districts attempt to rebel against their leaders in a place called the capitol. The rebellion is crushed and one of the districts is completely wiped out. As penance for staging a rebellion the districts must send one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to participate in “The Hunger Games” a competition to the death with only one victor.
Rate it: (0 – 3 Guys)
So what did you think?
Adam – I thought it was a decently well done dystopian drama, sort of similar to, other films in the genre. There was a bit more melodrama than I was expecting. It seemed like they toned things down quite a bit to get the PG-13 rating. Sort of funny to me that in the future the 1% are all dressed like foppish dandies.
Scotty – I thought this film was pretty good but very predictable. Having not read the book I was going in blind and though there are a couple of twists, there certainly was no OMG moment.
Griff – I ran my way through the book in two days prior to seeing this movie I am not sure if it made the movie better or worse for me. I thought they did a great job of bringing the general ideas of the book to the screen but having read the book, I knew about all the details that got left out. I think I almost would have preferred to have seen the movie and then read the book to flesh out the details.
Any thoughts before you saw the movie?
Adam – Jennifer Lawrence was excellent in Winters Bone and this seemed like this role would be right up her alley. Although I had not read any of the source material, I had heard a lot about the films premise via the Hollywood hype machine.
Scotty – This film is the talk of the town and everyone and their mother was asking me if I had seen it yet and what I thought. I was a bit bitter with the lines and no parking but was hoping to be WOWed.
Griff – I didn’t know too much about it, but it seemed liked Battle Royale to me. It also seemed to be drawing a ton of hype. Before I saw the trailer for this several months ago I had never heard of it.
Did you think this movie was fresh and/or innovative?
Adam – As I stated previously, dystopian films with gladiatorial combat, to appease the masses, have certainly been done before. You could watch Deathrace 2000, Rollerball, or The Running Man and see a very similar plot. So I can’t really say the plot was fresh or innovative. The fact that the combatants were pretty young was a bit of a different spin.
Scotty – This film was innovative compared to the cookie cutter scripts that have been finding their way to the theaters but it was very similar to The Running Man in its premise. The Hunger Games is certainly not that film but the plot was pretty similar, same idea different setting and different characters. It was almost like the author saw that film and said “I have an idea.”
Griff – Like I just mentioned it is basically Battle Royale but, this movie has a lot more layers to it. I don’t know how fresh it was but it was an interesting premise.
Was the script well written?
Adam – It was ok, some of the dialogue was a bit juvenile and most of it was pretty shallow, but I guess that is the point. Script wise it seemed like they combined Rollerball, The Most Dangerous Game and Lord of the Flies, mixed them all together and came out with The Hunger Games goulash. That does not mean it was not fun to watch, but calling it well written would be a stretch.
Scotty – The script was decent. The writer injected humor, emotion, and drama well, but as I stated before there was no doubt how it was going to go. From the onset of The Hunger Games you know who is going to win. It is just a matter of how the writer will bring us to the conclusion.
Griff – They did a nice job of taking the general concepts of the book and breaking them down into a 2 and half hour movie. A good portion of the book is taken up by what Katniss is thinking, and Ross was really able to translate that well onto the big screen.
Was there a performance you really liked or really hated?
Adam – I was a bit disappointed with Jennifer Lawrence’s performance, it lacked the level of intensity and gravitas I was expecting. On the other hand I thought Woody Harrelson was excellent and I was pleasantly surprised by Lenny Kravitz’s work in the film.
Scotty - I was impressed with Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen. She was the whole film in my opinion and carried it well. She reminded me of Renee Zellweger in Jerry Maguire. She had an innocence and magnetism that drew you in and made you pull for her. I also heard she trained with an Olympian Archer for 40 some odd hours to perfect her craft. On a different note I thought Woody Harrelson was a bit of a stretch, I kept thinking of him as Roy Munson in Kingpin. I think it had something to do with his look in this film.
Griff – I thought Jennifer Lawrence was great choice, Liam Hemsworth as Gale was a great choice as well. Some of the other cast members I wasn’t so impressed with. Dayo Okeniyi was an odd choice for Thresh and Alexander Ludwig didn’t seem to have enough menace as Cato.
Do you remember a song from the film?
Adam – Nope
Scotty – There was music but it was far from memorable.
Griff – “Safe & Sound” by Taylor Swift & The Civil Wars
What was your favorite line?
Adam – “ I volunteer! I volunteer as tribute”
Scotty – Seneca Crane- “I mean everyone loves an underdog!“ President Snow- “I don’t”
Griff – “Welcome to the Hunger Games!”
What would have made this a better movie?
Adam – I would like to have seen Katniss get some more kills, she only directly killed one dude with an arrow. She won the hunger games where 22 people died, I would like to see more of a body count. I was also a bit confused about the technology being used. The elite have hovercraft, bullet trains and an enormous technologically advanced city, yet they rely on coal power. That seemed a bit odd to me.
Scotty – The filming was a little too choppy for my liking, at first I felt like I was in a found footage film. Other than that, maybe choose a different lead man, he did nothing for me.
Griff – For the most part, I thought some of the changes made sense. For example, I thought the choice to use actual dogs at the end instead of some Lycanthrope type creatures was a wise choice. One of the changes that I really took issue with though was when they skipped the scene after Rue’s death where district 11 gave Katniss the bread. In the movie they showed district 11 rioting instead. I think leaving the bread in would have made for a much more powerful scene. It lets the audience know that everyone from the lesser districts is following Katniss and rallying behind her. She is winning over the other districts. The way the scene played out, district 11 just seemed more upset about Rue’s death then anything else.
Is it worth seeing in the theater? Or could you have waited for the DVD/Stream?
Adam – How are you going to talk to everyone else about this film if you don’t go and see this at the theater?
Scotty – Certainly worth watching but wait a couple weeks so you do not have to wait in line or struggle to find parking. The Hunger Games is certainly not worth all the hoopla it has been getting, it was a decent film.
Griff – Get on the hype train! Go see it now.
What other movies would you recommend if someone enjoyed this film?
Adam – If for some reason you have not read William Golding’s Lord of the Flies get on it. Also the Lord of the Flies film from 1963 is available via Hulu and it’s great. Skip the 1990 remake it’s nowhere near as good.
Scotty – As I stated earlier in my review The Running Man comes to mind so if you have not seen that than check that one out. Another film would be The Most Dangerous Game (1932).
Griff – Battle Royale – but be aware, it is not a PG-13 movie for the kids.
Any final thoughts on this movie?
Adam - This was a fun movie, but it has flaws in pacing particularly during the first act. The majority of characters lack any back story and seem fairly shallow and one dimensional. Similarly, If they had not dumbed down the source material this would have been a better film. Lastly, I don’t like how Woody Harrelson stole my haircut for the role of Haymitch Abernathy.
Scotty – This is the most talked about movie in recent memory, selling out all over the country, all weekend long, but why? Well I am going to give you my opinion, teenagers. Very similar to the Twilight Series, this film appeals to teenage minds and wallets and if you know anything about business this is the market you want to gain. Never mind that many schools are having their students read these books in English class and this gets parents excited. I am not going to bash the film I actually thought it was pretty good but it was certainly not worth the limited parking spots, sold out shows, and the waiting in a line outside the theater to get in. The Hunger Games is an above average film with a hungry audience but do not go in expecting it will change your life or open your eyes to a whole new world, it doesn’t. I am glad that teens are excited about something besides video games and bad music, there is an excitement about reading and if The Hunger Games creates a generation of readers, then it is doing a world of good.
Griff - As is usually the case, The book is better. If you haven’t read it, I really recommend checking it out. You will be surprised at how much detail they had to leave out of the movie. Overall a decent start to 2012 movie season. Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come.