Friday, 23 March 2012

The Hunger Games

After the rebellion in Empire somewhere in a future, the punishment is set for 12 rebelled districts. The Capitol selects a boy and a girl from each district who fight to death on live television. Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister's place for the latest match.

The movie is based on the first novel in the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, published in 2008. It was probably the most advertised film of the spring, and, given the bestseller nature of the books, the film to wait for. And the fans will not be put down.

Art always follows the mood of the crowd, reflects it and tries to satisfy the desires of the majority. This is why the occurrence of the anti-utopian and post-apocalyptic movie was actually predictable given the world-wide movements like “Occupy Wall-Street”. The society filed a demand for another “V for Vendetta”, and the movie industry (as well as book-publishing) rushed to satisfy it.

The whole movie feels split into roughly two parts. In the first part, authors try to produce anti-utopia with all the necessary attributes. Suppression, fear, anger at the elites, excesses of the Capitol; all the components seem to be in place. Lonely hero, revolting masses, uniformed Special Forces – it took all the best from other anti-utopias. The second part feels like “The Last Survivor”. Well, a bit more brutal. The movie almost forgets its anti-utopian start and concentrates on action, reminding more of “Predators” and other movies about survival in the jungles. And the thing is that these two parts are as if they are filmed by two different people.

The action part is tense, full of unexpected turns of the story line and genuinely breath-taking at moments. It is a joy and entertainment to watch, it is easy to empathize with the main characters, it is a thrilling movie to watch. But the anti-utopia part is in reality more of “Anti-utopia for children” – every single bit is carefully chewed and given to the audience for easy digestion. It is like 1984-lite: colorful, stylish, with charismatic characters, but absolutely dull. I honestly believe that the audience is smart enough to understand the purpose of the games. I do believe that everybody will understand what is going on the screen, without any need to revert to patronizing explanations which leave the taste of a kindergarten lessons.

The cast played its part well. No revelations, no awe-inspiring performance, no Oscar-hopefuls. Straightforward work, no more, no less. I would only single out Lenny Kravitz. He managed to put life in his character, a lot of charisma and some personal touch to it, making it very natural and pretty positive. As concerned Jennifer Lawrence who played the main character, I honestly don’t understand why there is a need for her to do everything with an open mouth. She hunts with an open mouth, she sleeps with an open mouth, she is angry with an open mouth – etc. It was supposed to make her look hot, but instead she looks a bit lost and silly. Other than that, everybody seems to be in place and knowing what to do.

P.S. I hated the camera work. The shaking image always unsettles me, I never quite grasped why would you want to use it? It is not how people see the world when they are nervous. It is simply a camera given to a man who has shaking hands. As a result, the whole movie feels like a ride on a very poor road rather than nice smooth journey. Maybe that was the intention? Because of this feature the final fight also lacks some pathos and tension. Instead, it looks like the cameraman himself participates in the fight.

VERDICT: Despite pretty patronizing approach to the audience as concerned the ideological part, the movie is still a great watch: captivating, breathtaking, interesting and with a little pinch of content for those of us who look for something more than simple action movie.


  1. Good review. I agree that they downplayed some of the bigger issues from the book in favor of the action. I also hated the shakycam and felt it lessened the impact of many scenes.

  2. Thank you.
    I definitely found it hard to focus on what was going on when the camera was shaking like crazy