Movie Review: The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games
Director: Gary Ross
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland
Production Company: Lionsgate
Release Date: 03/23/12
NOTE: Spoilers abound. I don’t like spoilers, but it’s kind of inevitable in this review. So if you haven’t seen the movie, I’d advise you to see it before reading my review. And if you haven’t read The Hunger Games, I’d advise you to read the book, then see the movie, then come back here to my review.
Okay friends and fellow fans of The Hunger Games book series, don’t hurt me, but I really was pretty disappointed with the movie adaptation. First of all, let me say that I LOVE the book series – in my opinion, it’s second only to the Harry Potter series. So I was just as excited as everyone else upon visiting my local theater to see the first book come to life.
But I had some issues. My first, MAJOR issue was the fact that they used a shaky camera style or quick, choppy cuts throughout most of the movie. I understand that they wanted it to maybe seem like you were there, looking around, but for me, they failed to focus on anything long enough for people to realize what they were looking at. And I understand that, during the fight scenes, using this quick-cut, shaky style helps to make it not as gory, and it helped their rating because clearly, you can only guess that you’re seeing kids fighting other kids. You see flashes of a knife or a bow or a fist or whatever, but the camera moves so quickly that you can’t really tell what you’re looking at. But it bothered me that I couldn’t tell what was going on. And the shakiness of the camera made me feel like I was watching The Blair Witch Project all over again.
My husband had the same issue with the film, but my other friends who went with us either didn’t notice the shakiness at all, or they felt like it died down later on in the movie, or they simply got used to it. I found myself closing my eyes a lot, just praying for them to have a scene with a still cam. I don’t know if because I have poor eyesight I’m just more sensitive to this kind of thing (but that doesn’t seem likely, because my husband has 20/20 vision), or if it was because of the huge screen (but all my friends saw it on the same screen), or if it was agitated by the fact that my allergies have been acting up, or if I’m just extra sensitive to that kind of stuff (which is probably the case, because I can’t handle 3D movies, either). But apparently there have been other reviewers out there (my husband told me about them – I try not read other reviews as I’m in the midst of doing a review) who felt the same way.
No matter what the cause, though, it kept me from really being able to enjoy the movie, and I found myself counting up all the other negative aspects of the film. For instance, there was one part that was so ridiculous that it was funny – I wasn’t the only one who laughed BTW – and it should have been a tense moment. And some of the CGI was really not so great. And don’t get me started on Lenny Kravitz as Cinna. He looked the part, and he was calm and collected, but the way he delivered his lines screamed “I AM NOT AN ACTOR.” (But I do realize that I am also not an actor, and I probably wouldn’t have given even as good of a performance as he did.) But I think all the other actors gave great performances, and I really loved that they brought out the banter between Effie and Haymitch. I’ll admit I was worried about Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, but I think he ended up doing a great job. And while I think Donald Sutherland can be completely creepy, I don’t think he was creepy enough as President Snow. We got to see him more in this movie than we do in the book, so I was expecting to start shivering as I heard him talk. Not so much. But I’m hoping they’ll up the creepiness factor in the next movie.
I did like the fact that we got to see a lot of what goes on behind the scenes during the Games, and that kind of helped tame what I believed would end up being a very gory movie. Let me explain my jumbled thought. When I heard this book was being made into a movie, I was kind of worried, because a lot of the book is Katniss’s internal thoughts, and her internal struggles as to how to play the game, how she feels about Peeta, etc. And then I remembered that because the book is told in 1st person, we as the reader only see the deaths in the arena that Katniss sees. So therefore I was worried that, when making it into a movie, the directors would feel the need to clue the movie audience in on what was happening around the entire arena, and we’d see all the deaths of all the kids. But I do think that the people involved in this film came up with a great solution to that – keep it focused totally on Katniss and what she sees, and in between, show what’s going on with Seneca Crane and all the game makers. Very clever, and I give them kudos for that.
Overall, I think I probably would have loved the movie just as much as everyone else if I hadn’t felt so affected by the shaky camera. I just don’t understand why this was needed throughout the entire movie. I would have been fine with it if it just happened during the major action scenes, but since it was used throughout the film, along with those choppy cuts, I was constantly feeling dizzy and it was hard for me to focus on the rest of the movie. And frankly, it put me in a bad mood so that a lot of the time I was focusing on the bad parts of the film. I realize that my judgement was probably totally clouded by that one aspect of the movie. But I do think that the acting was great, the sets were spectacular and the costumes were perfection. Just please, Gary Ross and Co., next time, ix-nay on the aky-shay am-cay, okay?