The Hunger Games Aims For Target And Misses Wide
The Hunger Games Wows Youth and Woes Die-Hards
Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games,” hit box offices around the country and filled movie theatre seats with diverse audiences.
Protagonist and heroine, Katniss Everdeen, lives in a dystopic, future society divided into 12 districts and ruled by wealthy aristocratic overlords from “The Capitol” in District 1. As a manipulative ploy for fear and hope, the ruling class forces each district to sacrifice a male and female teenager each year for a gladiatorial sport, known as the Hunger Games.
Katniss, a hunter at heart, volunteers to save her 12 year-old sister during the selection process in the 12th District. She travels to the capitol, trains for and battles in the Hunger Games and forms relationships along the way. Collins clearly mirrors characterization from “The Lord of the Flies,” in her portrayal of the children warriors.
Collins, staying inside Katniss’s head, produces short, tactile sentences that are precise about apprehension and physical experience. However fanciful the basic premise, the books are rugged girls’ adventure literature of the kind that used to be written for boys. – David Denby, The New Yorker
The casting for the film was top notch. Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss), exudes strength and femininity without mellow-dramatic action or dialogue. She fits her role well and the supporting cast does not detract. Stanley Tucci dazzles the audience with purple his pompadour-ponytail combo and his jolting smile.
Where the film misses is in the direction. Collins labored with screenwriters Gary Ross (Director) and Billy Ray to get the script right. Where Ross first failed was with his cinematographer, Tom Stern.
Ross and Stern decided on using the “hand-held-shot” that often confuses the naïve and frustrates cine-philes. I was almost immediately distracted in the opening minutes, as the characters were introduced from a “shaky” perspective. I tried to discern if this was meant to emphasize feelings of chaos or perhaps hyper-reality but as the filmmaker remained steadfast with his choice of the “shaky-shot,” I chalked it up to poor filmmaking that was trying too hard.
Besides the awful cinematography, the violence (the attractive aspect of the story) is muffled by the shaking camera footage. Never do you see one of Katniss’ arrows pierce human flesh. Never do you feel horrified or impassioned after a Hunger Game kill. The film was directed for a young audience and not for the novel-reading Hunger Game die-hards.
“The Hunger Games” is a prime example of commercial hypocrisy. The filmmakers bait kids with a cruel idea, but they can’t risk being too intense or too graphic (the books are more explicit). After a while, we get the point: because children are the principal audience, the picture needs a PG-13 rating. The result is an evasive, baffling, unexciting production—anything but a classic. – David Denby, The New Yorker
My recommendation is, read the book and then see the film. If you are not going to read the book then you might consider waiting for it to pop on the Netflix instant queue – otherwise you might leave the theatre feeling frustrated and wondering what the hype is all about.
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