The Hunger Games (2012)

HungerGames

Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Deep and tense.

How do you go about rating a movie that’s been really hyped up? Do you play it by expectations or do you try your best to go in blindly? I personally have already reviewed The Hunger Games when it was originally released, and even though I really liked it, I did have my qualms as well. I guess I expected more out of it than I was given, or maybe even wanted more from it, based on what little I already knew about the plot. This time around, I decided to give the film a bit more credit than that, and I attempted to give it another shot as blindly as I could, and having done that, I was actually rather impressed with the entire film.

The plot of this film in just the past year alone has spread throughout the world, and most people already know the plot, if not how it turns out. It’s such an iconic story, and you really should know it, but if you don’t…I’ll go ahead and fill you in. Katniss Evergreen is just like most anyone else living in the future…buried in oppression and debt. If you had bread, it’s like buried treasure – it’s that bad. Meanwhile, the rich live luxurious lives above everyone else…looking like they came straight out of an episode of Futurama. To create peace from a hate-filled world, the spread the world into twelve districts, and every year, a young man and woman are selected to compete in the Hunger Games – a battle to the death. The lone victor, of course, becomes pretty much a tool for their further games.

Katniss’s sister, Prim, just turned of age, and as mandatory, had to enter into the Hunger Games drawing. Wouldn’t you know it, Prim is chosen. Katniss becomes legend when she chooses to volunteer in her sister’s place. Along with Katniss, a boy named Peeta is chosen in District 12. Katniss must use her perceptive hunting skills with a bow and arrow to the game…and maybe…she will win.

So, the first time I watched this film, I expected more of the games. Left and right, I kept hearing about how this is a movie about kids killing each other…so I expected to see as much. Rarely do you see any of that, and if you do, there’s little to no blood. My pre-expectations were ultimately let down and I was unable to catch what the movie was truly about – which was an arrangement of really important messages. Obviously you have courage and bravery, but there’s also love, hope and the big fat metaphor towards government dictatorship and the unbelievable rise of media importance. Courage and bravery are pretty important here, as is teamwork between Katniss and Peeta (which seemed like the only people that felt bad about killing anyone). You feel their continual attempts to survive as if you are the one trying to survive. You love them, you connect so well to these characters that you feel every bit of emotion pouring from them. This acting is unrelenting and pure. It’s their emotions that really tug at you, allowing you to feel the unstoppable tension throughout the film.

It’s less about who lives and who dies as much as it is about doing the right thing, and facing your fears…standing up for what is right, even if that means death. Katniss is one of the best heroines in film that I have ever seen. Her message of hope is loud and clear – especially with those quiet scenes where she blindly speaks to all of the Districts with the universal hand symbol for…I’m not entirely sure – a mixture of love, hope, and peace to light up the ever sinking feeling of despair . Those scenes are deep and emotional – if you’re in the right mood while watching it…you’ll be glued.

As for the message about government dictatorship and the media…it’s not that hard to see. The government and the people are two very different sides of the world. The government really doesn’t care about its people. They make the rules, and if anyone disagrees, they get killed. It has gone as far as civilians practically dying of starvation daily. Even though that message is received, I think a louder message is about media. Media nowadays is already over-the-top. I think in a way, this film was a bit of a satire – making fun of reality shows and the direction they are heading. We’re always willing to push that boundary of acceptable further. Based on that, the reality of this film becomes creepily believable.

The film would probably be nothing if it weren’t for the likes of Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson. Not only do they have tremendous chemistry, but it’s their characters you’ll find yourself connecting with the most, and easily at that. Yes, more focus is on Katniss, but even so. This is a “love triangle” story I can actually accept, oddly enough. It feels different, fresh, just like the rest of this iconic story.

I can’t wait to see more from The Hunger Games. I won’t be able to see the next film in theater; at least not right away. Though, I’ll make sure to get a review out as soon as possible. Peace!

image in review poster provided by blushots

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14 thoughts on “The Hunger Games (2012)

  1. Agreed that the movie captures Katniss very well. And that it is a good piece of fiction in its own right.

    It isn’t quite as good as the book, and certainly isn’t nearly so haunting, but I suppose that’s probably okay.

      • They stayed pretty close in terms of character and plot. The few changes were required by the different medium, and were also relatively small. It is was the tone of the first novel that the filmmakers’ lost. The book has a melancholy, haunting tone that causes the violence, both when it’s implied and when it’s real, to repulse us, thereby making the media theme work exceptionally well.

        The movie loses a lot of that, I think. The violence isn’t glorified in the film, but it also isn’t precisely repulsive. And that means the media theme doesn’t resonate quite as powerfully. The movie suffers some from a contradiction, I think: it decries our violent, but at the same time, it propagates that culture.

        And yet, it is still a very good flick. Like I said, I agree with your review!

      • Lol well thanks for your book review, what you said makes sense. I just look at both projects as two very different and welcome interpretations of the same story.

  2. I thought The Hunger Games was pretty good, but far from great, and definitely too drawn out. I thought it easily could have made the exact same social commentary, and have Katniss still be a great heroine in much less time. I know you don’t generally do foreign movies, but if you ever get the inkling I suggest checking out the Japanese movie Battle Royale (2000). For my money, it’s the more concise and better film. A warning if you do: it’s far more violent, and graphically so.

      • You were clear, but I didn’t watch this film for any violence. I think the primary focus works better for emotion, hope, love, survival, and the social/political issues. I have no problem with violence, and in some cases I love it, but in this case, I don’t think the movie needed any at all. As for the length…I didn’t even notice it because I was so wrapped in it.

  3. I don’t think The Hunger Games needs more violence and that’s not why I enjoy Battle Royale more. Just mentioned it because it takes a far different approach to similar material than the PG-13 Hollywood blockbuster. I just believe THG needs less movie. I thought everything the movie was about was established rather quickly, but it kept going over the same territory. For lots of movies, being near 2 1/2 hours is justified. I don’t think it was in this case.

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