The Hunger Games (Gary Ross, 2012)March.26.2012
One of that hardest things in life is to create a review of a film based on a book you truly love or loved. Of course, you want to say the numerous differences and similarities of the book and the movie but something should stop you from doing it. It defeats the purpose of what a film is. Case in point, this film, The Hunger Games, where everything you wanted was eventually included yet you were still out there looking for more. I am not saying that The Hunger Games lacked the important elements of what it should have been but it just feels that the cherry on top of the sumptuous whipped cream is missing.
The story goes in a dystopian world where everything is ruled by the highest district due to a destructive war that left the country in recovery; where the highest district created a crazy feast or event called the Hunger Games, as each district is forced to offer two teenagers, male and female, as ‘tributes’ and they would battle it out until a survivor is left in the battle arena. And the story starts off with Katniss Everdeen’s sister is picked from the ‘reaping’, the process of tribute-picking’, and she volunteers herself just to replace her little sister from the said event.
It was just a wow moment to see everything in perspective. From the start of the film where District 12 picked out its tributes, Katniss included, to the journey to the Capitol, to the look of the “great hall” in the Capitol, to the scenery from the top of the building that resembles a few scenes in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, and to the battle arena itself. It was a mix of the army reminiscent of the Japanese soldiers in the Ultraman series, a very grayed out feel that is similar to Pleasantville and those old slow drama films, and most of it felt like it was the sequel of Jim Carrey’s The Grinch, where colors where literally overused in the Capitol area. And the transition of colors clearly states the status of one place to another in terms of technology and progress.
Most of the characters are memorable too. Stanley Tucci, as the host of the Hunger Games program, as one of the most annoying and fun characters in the film. It felt like he is a mix of Guy Smiley and Richard Simmons. Josh Hutcherson reminded me of Gilderoy Lockheart at the end of the train ride when they first arrived at the Capitol. And Jennifer Lawrence, as Katniss, was definitely fit for her character. I knew her from Winter’s Bone and it was surprising for me to see her doing some run and gun action. One scene that stood out was when she made her lasting impression with the screening committee. Though it felt like there was a lot of underused characters in the film such as Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz. I am sure that the director has a reason for this but it would be really workable if they stood out.
Then we have to admit that the movie lacked heart in terms of its investment of emotion. Yes, the film looked artsy enough, even for a Young Adult literature material, it had its moments. The first part of the film looked like it was an extended play of a music video. I guess they were telling us a bit of everything in every scene moving from one act to another. It felt like it was a summary of everything. And the problem lies within this spectrum. They wanted to say everything in a rush but the supposed moments of the film lacked its approach to the audience. It was as if they were just telling the story without any emotions, it lacked the reason of movie magic. They could have just edited out a few of juicy parts in the film and they could have just extended some scenes. Like the Cato character, it was implied that he was a villain, but you cannot feel any hatred against him. Or even the romance of Hutcherson and Lawrence, yes they had their moments but it just was not there.
Yes, I had a feeling of engagement throughout but I wanted to feel the rage, anger, love, death, and success. As much as I would not want this to be compared to the Twilight franchise, they were able to grab those so-called moments that would be tattoo’ed from one’s mind.
I may be wrong from all my assumptions, and from what I’ve seen, only if this film is a supposed big build-up from things to come. Most of the supposed scenes that should have carried that big bang treatment ended as a dud. Nonetheless, the film was still as awesome as it was meant to be and yes, still, despite me complaining the treatment of the film, it still let me glued to my seat while doing quick chats with my seatmate.