The Hunger Games
“This is the time to show them everything. Make sure they remember you.”
The Running Man meets 1984, with some Lord of the Flies thrown in, in the new smash hit The Hunger Games. Perhaps I’ll try to throw in more references in later If I can think of them. Anyway, this dystopian story about a world where the rich recruit teenagers from the poor to fight for the death in a reality TV show may have gotten most of its ideas from many different influences, but that doesn’t matter. It still feels unique somehow.
Warning; this movie has the WORST name for a main character I have heard in a long, long time. Come on! Katniss?? Are you kidding me? But despite that, I really liked this movie, and her character who was wonderfully played by Jennifer Lawrence. Indeed, the strongest part of this movie is how easy it is to feel for these characters. This empathy is heightened and highlighted once they come to the actual battle-to-the-death games, where we as the audiences genuinely feel frightened for them.
The back story of Katniss in her home of District 12 is well-told, and we are easily immersed into this contrasting world between the down-to-earth poor of the districts and the flashy rich lifestyles of the Capital where everyone looks like David Bowie.
The actual hunger games are built up enough to raise our anticipation, much like the build up to the Battle of Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers. And once we get to the games, the directors does a good job of making we the audience feel the paranoia and adrenalin that is felt by the characters, making it very exciting.
Now, while this is a really good film and I enjoyed it, there were some things they could have done to make it great, which they failed to do. First of all, the camera work was actually quite poor. This was noticeable from the start with some awkward camera placements and pans. But it really takes effect during the action scenes which are muddled and unclear as to what it happening. I hate to say it, but these scenes looked pretty amateurish.
Now, I realize that the makers of this movie wanted the action scenes to be vague. They were after all kids killing kids, a pretty gruesome thing. But they wimped out. If they really wanted to get across how unjust and horrible the reality of this world was, they would have gotten much more impact from seeing whats happening clearly. However, I realize that doesn’t fit with the demographic they’re going for, I’m just saying that on a cinematic level, it would have made the film stronger.
Another thing that should have been played up more is the fact that this is all happening for the enjoyment of the upper class. This is a reality TV show, but there are very few moments where we actually see the people of the capital watching the show, or of the commentators commentating. I can only think of one instances with the wasps where this occurs. But they needed more of this, much more. This is dystopia; and the message it is speaking about society needed to be clearer. We need to see these people taking in the violence like the gladiator fans of old.
So there it is. The Hunger Games succeeds at being a highly enjoyable film with strong, likable characters you can’t help but root for. If only they had focused more on the dynamics of the society they live in, this really could have reached the heights of great dystopian sci-fi.