The Hunger Games (2012)

3.5 STARS

General Information:

Information below is taken from the following link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1392170/

12 142 min  –  Action | Drama | Sci-Fi  –  23 March 2012 (UK)

Director

Gary Ross

Writer

Gary Ross; Suzanne Collins; Billy Ray

Stars

Jennifer Lawrence; Josh Hutcherson; Liam Hemsworth

Plot:

Set in a future totalitarian North America. The capitol are holding their 74th annual edition of “The Hunger Games” – a reality television show where 24 children must fight to the death.

Review

The opening scenes of The Hunger Games are indeed the best scenes of the movie. There’s a raw intensity to them; the atmosphere of a struggling totalitarian world is immediately created, and we root for the characters immediately. To be more precise, the best scene of the movie is the “reaping” scene, in this scene, every child and teenager effectively waits for their death, as they discover which boy and girl will battle to the death.

"The Reaping"

"The Reaping"

This scene is perhaps the most moving, and arguably most disturbing scene in the movie. We pan across the faces of innocent youthful children, some attempting to be brave, some sobbing. Either way, none of them can be considered to be feeling ‘ecstatic’ about potentially being murdered with a cross-bow, or a knife (or, having a brick smashed across your face…take your pick). This is then contrasted with a woman more ‘fabulously dressed’ than Lady GaGa, named ‘Effie Trink’ (Elizabeth Banks). She walks slowly, smiling and filled with joy, to the bowl with the names of the potential competitors in, and begins to slip her hand in and take out a random envelope.

Effie Trinket likes her make-up

Effie Trinket likes her make-up

“Ladies first” Trinket says; she picks out an envelope, only to reveal that a young timid girl called ‘Prim’ has been selected. Moments later, her sister, ‘Katniss’ (Jennifer Lawrence) screams, wails and demands that she is to replace her sister. Effectively, suicide. We now sympathise with Katniss and with all of the other children, and we’re borderline disgusted at the state. Later on, we find out that the competitors must get sponsors in order to survive (“it’s television!”), and we’re offered with moments oozing with light satire as we see how the competitors gain fans (we’re reminded of talent show competitions such as Britain’s Got Talent and The X-Factor). Not only that, but this section involves the only funny section in the film (it involves an apple…).

So a harsh satirical tone was set, and I thought that The Hunger Games had the potential to be something better than a teen blockbuster, to be a movie that says something quite profound about state-control and reality TV. The Hunger Games appeared to have some degree of intelligence. Unfortunately, as the film progressed, all of this was lost.

The disturbing atmosphere is abandoned from then on, and The Hunger Games descends into something trivial and infuriating as it appears to almost sugar-coat its subject matter: everyone in Panem wears bright and cheery clothing, Seneca Crane has a silly beard, there’s cheap cliche dialogue, moments of comedy which just aren’t funny. The disturb is thrown away with uncomic comedy, and what makes it worse is the fact that it isn’t satirical in the slightest, when it’s clearly trying to be.

Seneca Crane's annoying beard

Seneca Crane's annoying beard

In simple terms, my one main criticism of this film is that it should be darker, and this is not just a criticism of the film but also of the book it is adapted from. The book is classed as “Young Adult Fiction”, a genre which essentially doesn’t know what its target audience is. Is it for kids, or is it for an older audience? For the ‘young’, or for the ‘adult’? It has dark subject matter, yet it is aimed at a younger audience; is this film a cross between Lord of the Flies and Twilight?

In my opinion, The Hunger Games is better suited to an adult audience rather than just 12 certificate ‘popcorn entertainment’. It should be a bleaker vision, there should be more crying, more moments of disturb, more moments of panic, more glimpses of human nature – it should have more violence, more pain, more upset: so much so that it has a 15 certificate.

To be brutally honest, this film shouldn’t be a ‘popcorn film’, it should be a harsh psychological thriller, which leaves you shocked, disturbed and terrified as you leave the screening room. As I left, I just heard laughter.

Verdict

A film with flashes of brilliance: the odd moment of disturb, human nature and survival. However, this dark atmosphere wasn’t kept up, and is essentially – in my opinion – the films most obvious downfall.

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14 thoughts on “The Hunger Games (2012)

  1. Great Review, I totally agree! Keep these up, if the rest of the reviews are of this quality then I’ll become a regular reader 😉

  2. thought i’d leave a bigger response actually to this review.
    The ‘bright and cheery clothing, Seneca Crane’s silly beard, cheap cliche dialogue’ all have a purpose within the movie. You have to look at WHY they’ve done what they done. Think of media today. Think Katy Perry with her blue hair and compare that to Caeser Flickerman’s. The Capitol is simply a representation of today and how ‘cheesy’ our society is. And then you have to remember this is a direct contrast with what’s seen in District 12. They have a look of 1930’s depression America. And remember this is the future. Suzanne Collins and Gary Ross have made an interpretation of the future.
    I’m not quite sure what made you think this film isn’t dark enough. The sight of 16 year old teenagers (and below) killing each other is sickening. I don’t know what you’re idea of dark is then. The scene in the film where Rue is killed. Is that not dark? What about when the tracker jackers attack Glimmer? Or when Cato is killed by a pack of mutts? OR even when Cato kills another child cold heartedly.
    AND how can you compare the movie to Twilight? There are no elements of this movie to that movie. Do you see any tormented vampires wanting to feast on humans? No. This is a movie about a girl in the future wanting to save her dear little sister at any cost, in the future.
    This film is far from a popcorn movie. If you think that, you’re as bad as the Capitol citizens yourself wanting to see children killing.
    One last word: young adult fiction definition from YALSA is “someone between the ages of twelve and eighteen”. Ironically, that is whom is being killed here.

  3. I’m not entirely sure what Avneet said, mainly because I never read the books, but she’s totally right. I don’t understand how you can compare The Hunger Games to Twilight. Not once did I see or witness a glimpse of a Vampire, Werwolf or a pale-simpleminded high school-er.
    Not dark enough? Kids are killing each other in a small space. What is your idea of ‘dark’? I do agree it’s no Fight Club or one of those, “…of the dead” films. For it’s genre, it’s pretty dark.
    Not really good at talking about films… So… I just second what Avneet said. Booom.

    Peace.

  4. In my opinion, the movie had ‘dark content’, but not a dark style. Like with most movies nowadays, you can involve lots of murder and death and still make it not very scary. I wasn’t disturbed by watching the teenagers murder one another, more to the point, I wasn’t moved, when I should have. There’s a film called ‘children of men’ which has a very bleak vision of the future – and this is done due to it’s excellent direction and cinematography. There are long tracking shots where we pan across a lot of suffering (and this occurs throughout the entire movie), the colours used: browns, dull greys, dark greens, all help subtly help to add to the darkness. Not much so in The Hunger Games, as each character dies, I didn’t really care…to be more precise, the movie could have made me care more about the characters of it was directed in a less conventional way. It was very much a popcorn movie. Look at the way it’s advertised and marketed, it’s got a 12 certificate to make it appeal to a wider audience, and churn in the sales (it’s probably the most high-profile film out at the moment). It’s also a popcorn movie because it effectively turns dark subject matter into a hollywood entertainment film. As for being similar to Twilight, it’s very similar! They’re both based on “Young Adult Fiction novels”, they both have a large dedicated fanbase, they both involve something related to teenagers (it involves teens, and has the teen love-triangle).

    Peace.

  5. I would like for you to tell me what the difference is with dark content and dark style? This film doesn’t need long panning shots to show the ‘bleak vision of the future’. It has the performances of each character (especially Jennifer Lawrence), and the close-ups to enforce that point. We sympathise as Katniss does. With the characters she interacts with. We may not feel that sad about the ‘villains’, but SURELY you feel something. Otherwise you’re just quite heartless. I believe the colours in this film have a huge impact to the movie. Like I commented earlier, that contrast between the colours of District 12 and the Capitol is huge. I thought the advertising was EXTREMELY clever. There wasn’t much in the UK, but in US it was excellent. They made the audience the citizens of Panem. They were leading everything to these games. What’s wrong with trying to to get a larger audience? Surely every movie made wants to do that. The 12 rating was because 12 year olds have read it, and it’s unfair to them to not watch the film. BBFC cut films all the time to enable a larger audience. NOT ALL YOUNG ADULT FICTION NOVELS ARE COMPARABLE TO EACH OTHER. Every book is bound to have a fan base. Romantic novels, science fiction novels, comic books. Just because something has teenagers, does not make it a relatable thing. The characters have to actually have something in common. Compare Katniss to Bella. They are worlds apart. Bella- a reliant, naive 16 year old, reliant on others. Katniss- independent, strong, takes care of her family. THERE IS NO BLOODY LOVE TRIANGLE. Katniss and Peeta’s relationship is forged for television. Katniss and Gale’s relationship is friends, both taking care of their families.

    • The difference between dark content and dark style is very obvious. I’ll give another example to explain better. When I say ‘dark content’, I mean the actual content, what actually happens, who does it happen to. So in the case of The Hunger Games, the ‘dark content’ is the idea that a totalitarian government takes children and teenagers from their districts to play a game, this game involving them killing each other off. So in simple terms, the dark content is: murder. Dark style is the way the deaths and murders are presented to us in a movie, so what techniques the filmmakers use to create a dark/disturbing atmosphere (music, lighting, colours, editinhg, etc…). Death is a frequent occurence in movies, so frequent in fact that it doesn’t mean I’m heartlesss that I wasn’t manipulated by the deaths that occured in this movie. We see death occur all the time in films, even in films that we don’t even think of life and death as a key theme (action films being a key example). The way the deaths were presented to us in The Hunger Games were either very cliche – Katniss shaking a body and putting her head down onto the body and then back up again to reveal more tears. I’ve seen that a lot of times, and due to that, wasn’t emotionally manipulated. There were sections in the movie which involved slow-mo for example, an effect that never particularly does anything for me, as again, lots of filmmakers use it.

      In terms of the colours of the movie, I differ with opinion from you. To some extent, I agree with what you said about the use of colours, yet I didn’t get that whilst watching the film. Film – like all art – is very subjective.

      You may defend the fact that the film was given a 12 rating, yet if it was a 15 – and came across more darker and more emotionally intense, I feel that The Hunger Games would be an excellent movie, it would have been more powerfull, more profound, and more importantly: more memorable.

      In terms of fanbase, they ar very similar, just type in “The Hunger Games Twilight fans” in on Google.

      As much as I liked the movie, I clearly don’t like it as much as you, and that’s not a bad thing, I just have a completely different opinion. I imagine if I read the book and then watched the film, I would feel more strongly about the film, in the same way that I felt about the harry potter films. Plus, I didn’t hate the movie. I gave it 3.5 stars, that’s 7 out of 10!

      Sorry about the length of this, I tend to ramble.

  6. I would like to just comment on the fact that the only reason it wasn’t a 15 was because they specifically took out 7 seconds of blood so that 12 years could see it.

    Peace.

    • That would have made it a low-end 15. I think this film should be a high-end fifteen with an intensely disturbing atmosphere as opposed to a lighter one.

      • Film classification works on a scale of content and how ‘intense’ each section of the film is, it does quite clearly. It is often the decision of the BBFC to decide whether a film should be an 15 instead of an 18, because the content/style of the film is at the peak of what that specific age-rating cannot be considered under.

        In the case of the Hunger Games, 7 seconds of footage was taken out, 7 seconds isn’t a long period of time, so you can see how it could have easily slipped into the 15 rating. Besides, in the case of this film, it’s obvious, after all, it’s quite a strong, intense 12 compared to other 12-rated films. There is a scale, and if 7 seconds of footage was taken out, it show that this film was bordering on becoming a 15.

        Either way, I still feel that this film should be more intense, more atmospheric and more disturbing to match its content.

  7. Pingback: “The Hunger Games”: Television whores and the people who love them… « Radu presents: The Movie-Photo Blog

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