Sunday, March 25, 2012

Let's Watch "The Hunger Games"

Watched The Hunger Games premiere night so I'm reviewing it. I'm pretty sure there was a shit-ton more and I'll probably keep adding it in as I remember.

EXPECTATIONS: As soon as I saw the main cast, I expected very, very low quality in the film. I mean, I like a lot of them as individual performers but for something of this caliber, with this important a message, they wouldn't be able to pull it off as well as a POC could. Let's see what I got...

  • Obviously they crushed this opportunity to have a biracial heroine. Not only that, the EXTRAS alone are predominantly white. You live in a post-apocalyptic world and you think there's gonna be THAT many blond-haired, blue-eyed white people? Genetically speaking, does that even make any sense? How telling is that? I mean, it's clear that I hate the casting but REALLY? Good god -___-
    - Katniss: No, thank you. I like Jennifer Lawrence as an actress but she's not Katniss. I also hate that they wrote her to be this young woman who lost most of her badassery. She just says "Yeah, people don't like me" but they gave her a lot of feminine charm. I mean, I know she had to play up being feminine but that's not what I'm talking about. Argh, this is so difficult to articulate. Hmmmm...the audience should have been able to see when Katniss was playing the part and when she wasn't. If they tried to show any indication of that, they did a poor job of writing it in. They turned this strong-minded young woman into someone who lost a lot of her integrity. The scene where she sort of scolded Peeta, someone who is mature enough to be told "no" and will listen, about the nightlock berries was uncomfortable because she babied him almost to the point of being motherly. It was very cringe-worthy. is supposed to be tiny. At least, tinier than THAT. Lawrence is way tall.
    - Peeta: No. Hutcherson is a good actor as well but he's not Peeta. He played Peeta to be a little more boyish than I would expect. In the books, I found Peeta to be more..."mature" might not be the right word but hopefully you get the gist. When he would sort of reprimand Katniss for wanting to help him, it was also very uncomfortable for me. The way he communicated with Katniss was almost like..."You hang up! No, you hang up! No, you! No, hang up!" Ugh. Also, brunette looks more handsome on Hutcherson. Just sayin'.
    - Gale: I despise this character but this was not AT ALL how I imagined Gale to look or act like. They made him seem like a high school jock. To be quite honest, I firmly believe Hemsworth would have made a MUCH better Finnick Odair in terms of looks.
    - Haymitch: NO. I love, love, love Woody Harrelson and his environmental advocacy but NOOOOO. YOU DID IT WRONG! I always imagined Haymitch to look like a younger version of Morgan Freeman except graying a little bit. Freeman can play a drunkard AND look sagely and that's how I always imagined Haymitch would be. I got none of that from Harrelson. I also imagined Haymitch to be much more slobbish and in far less fancy attire—almost in rags. Almost. At least dirty/messy.
    - Thresh: I imagined him to be more of a "gentle giant" type of person. I mean, yeah, they're put in an arena to be murdered but Thresh, to me, was almost like how Hodor is to Bran in Game of Thrones. When he got angry at Clove for talking about killing Rue, that felt more realistic to how Thresh would react and they played that out well but it was so abrupt.

  • It might be post-apocalyptic but it certainly didn't feel that way. It just looks like they nabbed a bunch of kids from Amish communities to go to a pristine, white iRobot-like city. It's not at all how I imagined it. I imagined them in rags, old, beaten clothes, and maybe tees and old jeans. It's post-apocalyptic so they shouldn't be dressed in Puritan-like clothes. Logically, it doesn't make any sense unless Amish people were the only ones to survive or something. Then that would explain how there's nearly no racial diversity in the casting but that's clearly not so in the books so...yeah, makes no sense for the film to do this.

  • I think a lot of the budget went into making The Capitol looking really flashy and not enough went into much else in terms of setting. I imagined the gaming arena to have different ecosystems and whatnot so that was a little disappointing.

  • In addition to the film feeling like they were fast fowarding through the book, many of the things that made the book great was lost. They spent more time building the scene where she blew up the food than anything else. That alone tells you that they cared more about action than content during the film's production. The movie was packed with all of the suspenseful sequences without any of the context. For instance, the part with the three fingers kissed to the lips and then extended to the sky; you won't understand the significance of that if you don't read the books. Or when Rue was (abruptly) murdered and Katniss was supposed to dress her up in flowers as a "fuck you" to The Capitol. Almost all of the context in that was lost. I also hated that they didn't show how the materials in The Capitol were outsourced from The Districts, among other things. Yeah...there was A LOT of that.

  • This isn't completely necessary but I think including the Avox girl would have been a great way for the more analytical audience to question their compassion or humanity's desensitization. Speaking of desensitization, I wish they would have touched more on The Capitol citizen's complete lack of awareness. It's clear they have none but I wish they would have done something to compare that to the audience. I remember when we got to the part where one character was slaying another, the audience completely cheered them on and I was thinking how ironic that was. They are desensitized to this kind of stuff as well. It would have been amazing if there were something there to make them realize this. It would have been too complex for them, I guess. Can't handle that kind of context apparently.

  • PROS
  • It was pretty cool to see what was going on in the control room and how things worked. I mean, it would have been cooler if they showed things dropping and being picked up my the airships but the control room was pretty damn nifty.

  • It was also cool to see, albeit brief, how the districts get together and watch the games as well as District 11's reaction to Rue's murder. It was abrupt and poorly executed because, like so many scenes, it was gone as soon as it came.

  • One thing I liked about Katniss is that they gave her more of a sarcastic sense of humor which is really good because I imagined her to be more of a brooding, serious character which is realistic. Either way would have worked but, as good as an actress as Lawrence is, the casting wasn't right.

  • Cinna, Rue, and Caesar Flickerman were the highlight of the film for me, especially because they didn't fuck up the casting for them. I really, really loved Rue's character and the way Amandla Stenberg portrayed her. I also love that they gave her more endearing charm and how she teased Katniss. It was really cute. Donald Sutherland made a good President Snow and I like that he didn't seem like an obviously huge threat so we'll see how that plays out in the future. Wes Bentley made a good Seneca Crane. The Careers were really good; they were like Hollywood's stereotypical high school jocks and cheerleaders, except far more horrifying.

  • THE VERDICT: Save yourself some pain and money, don't watch it. It felt like they were just fast-fowarding through the book. I recommend nabbing it at your local library and reading it if you haven't already. There was no fluidity, no diversity, and none of the truly important aspects that made the books great. I'm glad I didn't have high expectations.

    GRADE: D-/F+

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