The basic plot is as simple as this – Survivor meets Twilight. That’s the best way to summarize the premise of this movie (and book). Although not a novel concept (think The Running Man starring Schwarzenegger, also based on a book), the backstory behind the whole death match is pretty quirky (and a little off-beat IMHO), but since this is supposed to be a SciFi, it’s all good. The death match in question is brutal, as participants use weapons ranging from swords, arrows and spears to make-shift bombs, bricks and even poison berries and killer wasps! The Twilight similarities kick in a little about midway into the movie as it is revealed that the participating male from Katniss’s colony has harbored a life long crush on the fair damsel. Ummm.. Jacob anyone? This three way love story was no surprise to me as the book, and series, are geared towards the young adult population. And let’s face it, that demographic just LOVES a juicy love triangle!
The movie can be divided into three distinct portions; The first being the usual introduction to main characters and basic plot and back stories. Here is where we learn about the backgrounds of Katniss and her family, her exceptional hunting abilities and puppy love with a fellow colony teenager. We are also given a brief background about the Hunger Games and the entire selection process. You have to be very attentive to grasp the intricacies of the process as it tends to be confusing. The second portion deals with the grooming and training of the selected contestants once they reach the Captiol. We get to see the other contestants and begin to gauge and get a feel of who’s gonna be a badass and who’s gonna be an ally to our beloved Katniss. The final (and rightfully the largest) section is the actual competition itself. And this is where I have my biggest complaint with the movie. In a setting which involves young adults and kids battling each other to death for rations, weapons and survival equipment, in a jungle arena, there is very little sense of danger or tension. Perhaps it’s the way the camera keeps jutting around like a six year old on a sugar rush, or the lack of a cohesive background score or well choreographed action sequences. Whatever maybe the cause, the end result is quite dry and lifeless and thus did not engage me one bit.
Performances are definitely not what define this movie, well not from the protagonist and lead cast at least. Jennifer Lawrence is good but not spectacular. Even Stanly Tucci was not his thespian self as the master of ceremonies. But the one actor that brings that extra sparkle to every scene he graces is Woody Herrleson. As the inebriated mentor to Katniss and her male counterpart from their colony, Woody is brilliant. His comic timing and carefree attitude resonate under all that messed up hair (which is most definitely a piece since the dude has very little head crop). I’d probably watch the remaining movies in the franchise, simply for him.
Let me be honest. I haven’t read the Suzanne Collins book, on which the movie is based. But being an avid reader I have SOME idea of how different a story can be when it is read through the pages penned by the author and when it is watched through a screenplay on the big screen. I seriously doubt the book would have been a best seller if it had the same lack of character development and vague story-telling. For a movie that revolves around a fight unto death match between the protagonist and 23 other kids, there is very little intensity and tension during the action scenes. Even the climactic battle between the last two rival survivors lacks any punch. Sorry, but if you do not bring a little edge of the seat action and thrill to a story which obviously deals in that genre, the movie is a waste!
Unless you are die-hard fan of the books and absolutely HAVE to watch the movie adaptation, I’d advise you to steer clear of this flick at the talkies and catch it at home when it premieres a few months from now, or go for a matinee in a few weeks from now.
Overall rating, an average **1/2
Hollywood has always been kind to best-sellers. Not out of generosity, but because they usually are bankable investments. And when you are dealing with a trilogy (or quadrilogy or septalogy), the big studios can smell the moolah a mile away! So it was inevitable that the latest best-selling phenomenon, The Hunger Games Trilogy, by acclaimed author Suzanne Collins, would be picked up for a feature film adaptation. And this amateur blogger decided to check out the first in the proposed trilogy (or a quadrology if they decide to go the Twilight and Harry Potter way) franchise.
Set in a dystopian future, the story is about teenager Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and how she volunteers to take her younger sister’s place in the Hunger Games. The eponymous game are a long standing tradition established after a failed uprising by 13 colonies against their own government. Every year each colony must send two “tributes” (one male, one female, both children) to the main Capitol to compete in a two week long fight/survive/deceive/kill unto death match. The surviving tribute is crowned victor and is subject to adulation and a host of other benefits that extend to his/her families back in the outlying colonies. Apart from serving as a form of (sadistic) prolonged punishment and a reminder of the forgiving nature of the government (to the crowned victor), the games are in fact a spectacular extravaganza for the residents of the overtly Utopian Capitol. Being telecast in a fashion similar to any global red-carpet event, the Hunger Games is an annual event that is telecast all over the Capitol, and the participating colonies, providing a form of visceral entertainment to audiences everywhere.