Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Hunger Games review

I finally saw this. Now, I have not read the books, so I do not know how the movie compares or how true it is. I can only judge the movie on it's own merits. And I apologise, but there will be some general spoilers.

Hunger Games was very well done. It had an interesting story, and did a great job of making us not only care about the characters, but want to understand them, to know what they would do next.

However, I felt it undermined itself somewhat. Apologies for the spoilers, but I can't discuss this without giving a little away. One of the interesting questions raised was: what would you do to survive? Would you kill someone in the same situation as yourself? Katniss never has to answer that question. There were times when it appeared she would be faced with that choice, but always the story prevented her from actually having to make it, even at the end. Whenever there's time spent on someone she doesn't kill, thus reminding us of the elephant in the room - that there can be only one - the story quickly finds a way to... "avoid the issue". The times when she did kill they always make sure it's clearly justified; either by making her kill to protect someone else and / or by reminding us the person in question was "bad". To that end they established early on that a number of characters were psychopaths who enjoyed killing children, and reminded us just before their deaths, thus allowing her to kill them guilt-free.

I don't really understand why that was done. Had she chosen not to kill, they could easily have saved her - it's not like they didn't do just that under other circumstances. If she had chosen to kill, we would not have seen her as a hero anymore, but would that really be so bad? Would it not have made for a powerful moment, a powerful story? But perhaps they wanted a traditional good-guy (reluctant) hero; it is a movie after all. So having her kill someone who wasn't "evil" was out, but also having her quit, having her not fight and thus look weak, was also out?

Again I didn't read the book, perhaps it didn't shy away from the issue and actually tackled it head on? I don't know, maybe I'll read it someday and find out.

One interesting thing about this movie for me was the role reversal. It wasn't pushed, it wasn't the point, it just so happened that in this movie the girl was the tough, intelligent one and the guy needed to be rescued. And to me, it felt strange, which when you think about it is disturbing. Fitting revenge I think; serves us men right with all our movies about tough strong men saving the helpless damsels. Now I guess I know a little about what women had to go through all these decades, having to watch our macho movies. There wasn't anything man-hating about it (unlike many "femme fatales" written by men, strangely enough), it was just... natural; this time the protagonist is a woman.

I did have an issue with the love story; I felt for him, but somehow I was never sure if she actually cared about him or she was playing it up for the cameras, milking the star-crossed lovers angle for the sponsors; we know she had, well, someone of interest back home, and the two never really bonded, plus he never did anything particularly impressive or self-sacrificing (at least not by that point) to win her affection, and the "backstory" of her having seen him once in the past didn't really sell it either. I don't know if that's a consequence of the acting (seems unlikely, I generally felt Jennifer Lawrence did a great job), the writing, my own inability to read between the lines, or whether it was actually deliberate. Perhaps the sequel will clear things up?

So overall I'm going to give it an 8/10. A strong, tense, thought provoking movie with it's fair share of action.


I thought the part where Rue saves Katniss and the two work together was well done, and as I watched I was thinking: how can you form this bond when you know only one of you can live? What will you do if you're the last two? But then the movie copped out and killed her so we didn't have to find out. This is what I was talking about before, where Katniss never has to actually make that decision. You might say that she did at the end, but remember she wasn't actually planning on committing suicide, she was bluffing to force their hand. So she didn't really have to make, or even really face, that choice seeing as she instantly came up with another way out.

The girl who ate the poised berries? There's edibility tests to find out if something is poisonous or not, if she was so smart she probably should have used them.

The dogs at the end? Wasn't that a little out-of-nowhere? All of a sudden the organisers got bored and said "lets get this over with"? And rather poorly animated as well.

When the girl with the knives could have killed her but sat there taunting her? A little out of place perhaps? And then she was quite lucky that someone else showed up to kill the girl and rescue her. Actually, she was rescued a number or times, which to our knowledge no-one else was. Rue, Peeta when she was hallucinating and when that last guy was choking her, the little sponsor gifts... so I guess she only really won because everyone was helping her, not because she herself was so strong? Add to the that the fact that everyone was talking about her from the start, she had the best stylist to draw their attention, and they even changed the rules for her sake, and she was arguably too central to the story - it wasn't about her in a difficult situation, it was about a difficult situation that revolved around her, if you see what I mean.

What's with the pin? When the old lady gave it away, I got the impression that the pin must have bad memories for her, regardless the only reason she would be giving it away for free is if it belonged to someone who died. A former victim of the games perhaps? Five minutes after she gets it Katniss gives it to her sister, who immediately and against the odds gets picked for the games. And after that she still acts like it's a good luck charm? Why? Clearly the damned thing is cursed! Get rid of it already!

I could be wrong, but it looked to me like every bow in the movie was different. So the bows she practised on were not the same as the bow she used to impress them and not the same as the one she picked up in the actual games. This seems a little strange; bows aren't quite "point and click", a little familiarity can be in order - hence I believe her initial miss when in front of the sponsors.

No "shocking betrayals" was nice; from the beginning to the very end I was half expecting Peeta to turn on Katniss at the end since it would have been a "dramatic surprise". Well, I suppose it would have been dramatic, though it would have undermined the story overall.

I had a little trouble with the part where they start throwing fireballs at her; isn't that a little excessive? Then she walks right out of that and straight into the other kids. I suppose they could have been drawn to the fire, but really: who walks towards a massive forest fire? Remember also that she was supposedly travelling away from the center of the arena while they were based there, staying close to the supplies.

Then for some reason she decides to climb a tree instead of running: not really sure why but OK. It was never really convincingly established why they couldn't just shoot her; their arrow's were within a couple of inches of her, surely they could have gone around for a better angle? It just wasn't very well done. Then they all went to sleep in the open without leaving anyone on watch? Hmm. Great opportunity for Peeta to kill them all in their sleep... oh well, hindsight and all that. Finally, where did the wasps go? Katniss climbed down from the tree a few seconds after the swarm killed that girl, yet despite the remains of the hive being right there all the wasps were gone? Oh, and how did the (roughly) 12-year-old Rue manage to move her somewhere safe without leaving a visible trail? Seems unlikely she would have had 2 days to recover if they could have followed her.

No comments:

Post a Comment