Saturday, March 24, 2012

A safely sanitized celebration of state-sponsored child murder. The disturbingly crowd-pleasing immorality of The Hunger Games.

The Hunger Games: an IMAX Experience
2012
142 minutes
rated PG-13

by Scott Mendelson

Note - this is not a conventional review and there will be far more spoilers than usual.  So warned...

The Hunger Games, as it exists as a film, is caught between two worlds.  One on hand, it wants to be a dramatic thriller about a totalitarian regime that picks children at random and forces them to fight each other to the death for the entertainment of the wealthy masses.  On the other hand, it wants to be a series that appeals to mass audiences in order to rack up massive box office grosses and become 'the next big franchise'.  As a direct result of this conundrum, the picture not only fails as a social/political commentary but becomes an ugly celebration of the very narrative that it should be condemning.  By refusing to look directly at its own story and by instead fashioning a convenient morality out of its murderous sporting event, it lets the audience off the hook and even encourages them to enjoy the blood-sport as 'entertainment'.  The film may appear to be mocking reality show conventions and the tendency to emphasize simplistic narratives to alleviate discomfort, but by virtue of what it omits and what it emphasizes, The Hunger Games is a prime example of what it claims to criticize. The film is so afraid to confront the horror of its premise that, in its need to create a mass-audience PG-13 franchise, it makes the cheering audience culpable and every bit as guilty as those who would watch such a thing in real life.

First and foremost, the film fails by refusing to develop or examine nearly all of the 24 Hunger Games contestants.  The large number of competitors/victims is actually solved by having eleven of them get slaughtered within the first five minutes of the competition (eight hours in actual time).  So the majority of the onscreen competition comes down to thirteen contestants.  Other than the lead character (Katniss Everdeen played by Jennifer Lawrence) and her would-be partner/love interest (Peeta Mellark played by Josh Hutcherson), not a single contestant is given any depth.  For the majority of the film, we are watching unnamed contestants kill other nearly-faceless contestants.  When the cast is whittled down, we are left with the pretty blonde, the cute redhead, the hot brunette, the tall black guy, the young black girl, the main 'villain', and a few nameless/faceless white males. We do spend a few moments with one very young competitor (Rue - the 'young black girl'), but only so we can feel sad when Katniss fails to save her.  It is in defense of that character that Katiniss commits her only explicit killing of another contestant.  But that blink-and-you-miss it arrow to the chest is overshadowed by her sorrow over a fallen teammate, and that scene highlights the creepy dichotomy at play throughout the entire film.  Almost from the start, the film divides up its contestants into two groups: the 'nice kids' who are almost never shown killing anyone and the 'bad kids' who not only kill onscreen but relish the opportunity.

Led by Cato (Alexander Ludwig), a tall, muscular young man who is immediately tagged as 'the main villain', half of the surviving contestants formed what can only be described as a 'posse of evil', as they hunt down and trap the other 'sympathetic' contestants.  Not only are these kids efficient killers, they seem to be outright psychopaths, taunting our heroes and doing all they can to create audience animosity.  It is one of them who is responsible for the death of Katniss's beloved Rue (Amandla Stenberg), yet even they are dispatched in ways that are either quasi-accidental  or otherwise morally clean (bee stings, poisoned berries, Cato breaking someone's neck as 'punishment for failure').  At no point do any sympathetic contestants get their hands uncomfortably bloody.  The closest the film comes to that is the brutal death of Clove (Isabelle Fuhrman), who is smashed against a wall by Thresh (Dayo Okeniyi).  But that moment is of course 'morally sound'.  Clove is attempting to kill Katniss and taunts about the earlier killing of Rue when Thresh grabs her and smacks her into a hard surface as 'revenge' for the early killing.  The audience literally roared with applause.

It is that moment that exemplifies everything that is wrong with the picture.  The film does not ask us to stare point-blank at the horror implicit in its premise, but rather pick sides, cheer for your heroes, boo for the villains, and thrill when the contestants you don't like get bumped off ("Take *that*, bitch!" the audience all-but shouted).  Moreover, the sympathetic contestants never have to behave in morally messy ways, with Katniss only directly causing a single (self-defense) death, and indirectly causing another death via bee-sting.  Co-survivor Peeta escapes without a single explicit kill to his name (Katniss and Peeta are both involved in Cato's climactic death without either of them being directly responsible for it).  After establishing Thresh as a sympathetic character (he spares Katniss's life 'just this once' because she tried to protect Rue), he is eaten off-screen by CGI beasts who show up right at the end purely to allow the two remaining contestants to be killed with without dirtying Peeta or Katniss's hands.  Remember, these people are not 'good guys' and 'bad guys', they are all impoverished children who have been kidnapped from their homes and forced to fight each other to the death for entertainment of the '1%'.  The idea that we should have any favorites or that we should take any joy in the proceedings makes us as culpable as the would-be oppressors.  And the fact that the film so readily divides up the contestants as such in order to promote an easily-digestible narrative shows how fraudulent it is no matter what relevant social issues it pertains to bring up.

One might argue that Gary Ross and company are attempting to put us in the shoes of the bloodthirsty audiences as a form of meta-commentary.  But there is just one problem with this: the film never shows us the downside.  For the sake of a PG-13, we see next-to-no actual onscreen violence and bloodshed.  We see not a single grieving parent reacting to watching their child get gutted on television.  We see not a single mother or father react with horror as their child murders another child in front of a worldwide audience.  We don't see a single contestant expressing dismay over killing anyone else or, with the exception of Katniss and Peeta, even any disapproval at being put in this situation in the first place. That we see brief snippets of what appears to be a rioting district after Rue dies only makes us question why this doesn't happen during every Hunger Games?  We don't even see much of the privileged masses watching these games, so in the context of the film, the only ones watching these games are you and me.  In fact, the only personal reaction we see to any of the onscreen action is Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) making a sad face when he sees Katniss snuggle up to Peeta.  There is clever commentary in the somewhat fake Katniss/Peeta relationship about the need for some kind of romantic narrative in even the most inappropriate of stories, but the film tries to have it both ways by creating a romantic rival in the person of Gale (who is, in the context of this film, an absolutely useless and unnecessary character) and by keeping Peeta alive at the end.  

Oh the hoops the film jumps through to keep Peeta alive!  Despite a premise that should logically climax with Katniss tragically killing Peeta in order to 'win' the game, despite the fact that said action and her likely emotional reaction to it would arguably atone for at least some of the above-noted issues, the film goes out of its way to keep Katniss's fake love interest alive at the end of the movie.  Why?  Well, so she can be forced to choose which two devoted boys she will pick in the next book, of course!  By not focusing on the violence inherent in its 'sport' and by not giving depth to any of the supporting characters, the film by-default becomes about how Katniss first 'met' and fell for Peeta.  It's not about the government oppression of the impoverished underclass. It's not about Katniss's personal arc as she competes in the games, because she does not grow or change AT ALL during the course of the film.  It's not about the Hunger Games in any real social context, since it creates the very sort of easily-digestible and crowd-pleasing narrative that it claims to mock.  It's not about how an underclass reacts to the ritual slaughter of its young, because we basically never see any reaction.  So, by default, the only 'story progression' is Katniss's would-be romance with a local boy who joins her in the games.  For all the hub-bub about how the film is some kind of feminist triumph because it's a female-centric action picture (and I can't help but wonder if her passivity was due to not wanting to show a *girl* killing people), in the end it's still about a girl who meets a new boy, with the implication that a would-be love triangle (WHO will she choose?!) will be the primary focus of the next chapter of the story.

The film is well-acted by all, even if only Woody Harrelson shows any depth and casting Stanley Tucci as 'exposition man' is a crime that should merit jail time.  The dialogue (save useless exposition) is fine. The film feel longer than its 142 minutes even while we can't help but wonder what ended up on the cutting room floor (there is so much that goes unexplained about how their world operates, such as why it's called 'the hunger games' or how the populace reacts to grand-scale cheating).  But while The Hunger Games is not a badly-made film, it is a well-made monstrosity by virtue of its construction and editorial choices.  I cannot speak to the source material, so perhaps Susanne Collins deserves much of the blame (although a good adaptation takes what's good and changes what isn't).  But be it due to inherent flaws in the source material or a need to distill the film into crowd-pleasing comfort food, the film as it stands is a prime example of condescension to the point of immorality.  It presents an inherently terrible and tragic situation, but constantly looks away while framing its story in simplistic good vs. evil terms so that the audience never confronts what they are embracing.  It is an example, not a commentary on, a society that packages difficult situations into conventional, easily-digestible, and comforting narratives so as to not confront any inconvenient truths.

It is a prime example of commerce triumphing over art, even in a case where (due to pre-release hype) commercial success was already assured.  It presents kidnap-victims being forced to kill each other for a chance to live in a fashion that will have audiences cheering when one victim thoughtlessly slaughters another.  By virtue of omission and by virtue of simplistic and/or non-existent characterization, it negates whatever symbolism it claims to posses and inherently endorses said state-ordered murder.  The Hunger Games is worse than a bad movie.  It's an immoral movie, possibly even an evil one.

Grade: D+

46 comments:

Alfred Pennywhistle said...

LOL!

Booksbyconnie said...

I agree with you on this movie. I did not read the books and really didn't know anything about the subject matter until I was in this sold out theater. Besides the movie being so disturbing, the audience in the theater was applauding! I kept thinking, am I missing something? At the end, this little girl, I would say 9 or 10 asked her dad if "they" won (meaning Katniss and Petta) he replied yes, they won. I thought, won what?? I left thinking I was so glad my 15 year old didn't want to go see this. I talk him into it. It's no wonder our society is desensitized when we find ourselves cheering for kids killing kids. It reminded me of a teen version of Gladiator. I still cringe at the people that accepted that as a sport. Are people born with out conscience? These behaviors are not acceptable. Thanks.

corysims said...

Love ya, Scott but this film isn't about how a girl meets a boy. It's about one girl just trying to survive so she can get back home, because if she doesn't, no matter what Gale might provide, she believes her sister won't make it.

And by having that be Katniss' sole motivation through out the film, her actions and playing the "game" incite something beyond her that, only at the end, does she begin to understand.

And, as implied by the film, the reason the Districts don't riot at the sight of theirs dying during the games year end and year out is that the Career Tributs, as stated in the film, basically when this thing every year.

Because of Katniss' actions and sympathy towards Rue and the defiance she shows during those actions, something stirs within the Districts. Because there is hope in Katniss (not by her own making), the riot ensues. I thought the film made perfect sense in that regard.

corysims said...

I had no cheering in my audience. The appropriate responds in my audience through out the entire screening was solemn. They were with the film but they understood that what we were witnessing was wrong, in every way.

John Alexander said...

It really feels to me like you are judging the audience you saw the film with, and not the film itself. But to each their own, I suppose. I just find this somewhat hypocritical based on your praise of other films that celebrate and glorify violence in a far more obvious and crowd-pleasing fashion, such as Kung Fu Panda 2 and Sucker Punch.

Sean Power said...

Having read the book, but not yet seen the movie, I can say that most of the things your are describing as problems are present in the book, except that in the book, they work. The driving force behind the story in the novel is Katniss's inner thoughts. Without those, I can see how the film lacks any ability to reflect on the brutality and terror of its premise.

In the book, when characters kill each other, the reader experiences a mixture of uncomfortable sadness and relief. Katniss has a better chance of surviving, but someone died. The deaths in the book carry genuine weight. Yes, most of the contestants get slaughtered at the beginning, just like in the film, it sounds like, but the remaining characters are given more depth. There are no "bad guys" really. There are contestants we root against because they are strong and have trained their whole lives for this, so, as a consequence, they don't display as much remorse as Katniss does internally, but we never cheer their deaths.

The one problem I had with the book is that Katniss does not bloody her hands, except in that one brief instance you mentioned. The thing is, since the rest of the book works so astoundingly well, in that context, her managing to survive without resorting to brutality doesn't stand out as that much of an issue. In a film that operates much more on the surface, with no thoughtful voice puzzling through the moral quandary of it all, I can see how this would fall flat.

It sounds like the only major plot element they changed for the film is that Gale is given more a presence to set up this fake love triangle. Katniss thinks about him in the book, but we never see him after she departs for the games. He's not even evidently in love with her. There's just the possibility of it. Same with her feelings for Peeta. It's just as much about the theatricality, the presentation of the romance, as it is about the romance itself.

To me, it sounds like the film presents an accurate presentation of the plot of the novel, it just forgets to bring the soul along with it.

SAmi said...

Its sad that only now is Jennifer Lawrence a household name. No one seemed to care when she was an oscar-nominated actress for Winter's Bone, but now that she is gussied up for a major franchise everyone cares.

Maya said...

Pretty much sums up how i felt about it. Although I was more offended by it being so boring. Definitely not the film it was marketed as.

dizneegal said...

To John, there is a difference in violent films than this film. This film wasn't even that violent, it was the subject matter that is so disturbing. I would rather my 15 year old see a war movie or a Braveheart or even The Patriot than this. This was not a good vs bad doing the killing. It was a rich society playing a game of murder with children/adults for their pleasure. DISTURBING. And, yes, I get it, it is not a true story but just the subject matter, for me, and the audience cheering and applauding, I just realized what a desensitized society we are living in. Didn't get it.

Scott Mendelson said...

I'm not sure how Kung Fu Panda 2 glorifies violence (the whole arc is about fear-based violence wrecked Po's family), and the action scenes in Sucker Punch are entirely in a character's imagination. But there is a difference between getting a dumb audience and a film feeding off that audiences' bloodlust. I think this is where the decision not to show much violence comes in. Take something like Stallone's Rambo, which is incredibly violent and gory and unquestionably sad, pessimistic, and cynical. I'm sure if I had seen that in a theater there would been young men whooping and hollering during the final ten minutes. But because the onscreen material demonstrates an inherently anti-violence message (or at least rebutting the whole good intentions can make a real difference in war-torn societies meme), it works as a drama. The Hunger Games suffers as much by what it excludes (onscreen violence, the consequences of said violence, mourning of the dead, etc) as what it includes (the simplistic good vs. evil division among the contestants). I will say that the audience's reaction did not dictate, but rather confirmed what I was feeling about the movie as the games themselves unfolded.

Kurt said...

I wanted to love this movie. I think the book trilogy, though narratively messy, is brilliant in the way it takes many of these elements you mention and flips them. The movie doesn't do that. Relegating Gale "handsome guy who looks sad" completely ignores his role in the book as an important moral voice (which makes his character's development in the later books more disturbing and coherent).

I actually thought the movie was kind of great until the games themselves started, and the movie tried too hard to keep a PG-13, softening the brutality, and making it all much more "good and bad guys" than the book does.

The movie failed the book so badly at handling almost all of the commentary of the books, that there's no way to believe the same creative team could do the last book, "Mockingjay" without betraying its message. [MILD "MOCKINGJAY SPOILER] The book (thus the series as a whole) has no real climax or closure. The series ends with the characters having betrayed themselves, the rebellion having been stripped of all heroism and moral authority, and Katniss herself becoming empty, bitter, and unlikeable. [END OF MILD "MOCKINGJAY" SPOILER]

It's a bleak, brave, and dramatically unsatisfying ending--that's the point. Thematically though, smart, heartbreaking, and thought-provoking. By simplifying the questions and complications of the simplest of the books, this movie showed that the creative team is either incapable or unwilling to present the story as it should be. Instead, they've created a film that directly contradicts the point of its source material and leaves no reason to believe the next two parts won't be similarly compromised.

Kurt said...

Incidently, you may be interested to read this EW.com posting about how the film absolves the audience as the book accuses it:

http://popwatch.ew.com/2012/03/24/the-hunger-games-book-movie/

corysims said...

I don't see how this film failed the book considering the commentary of the film is not the point. It's there and it's nuanced but the film, through and through, is about Katniss trying to survive to get home...but her actions in the arena cause a stir and also start to compromise herself.

Because of the nature of the games, Katniss has compromised her character, even if it's at the defiance of the Capitol.

Lady Jane said...

Bravo, Scott. Both the book and film version of THE HUNGER GAMES totally fail allegory or metaphor or commentary or really being anything at all other than "Hey, cool -- a game where kids kill kids! Who's Team Peta and who's Team (Whoever that other guy is)?"

The premise is nonsensical. So the Hunger Games are designed to prevent an uprising of subjugated peoples? By kidnapping and publicly slaughtering their kids on an annual basis? Yeah, can't imagine anyone will have any desire to uprise after that. But wait, there are all these "career tributes" whose districts actually train them for this and really enjoy it. It's an honor! So, uh, apparently it's not an exercise in humiliation because some people really like it. They would probably uprise if you tried to stop them from sending their kids on this wonderful reality TV glory-hunting expedition. No wait, the Hunger Games are about PREVENTING an uprising. I'm already confused. Hmm, sounds like someone needed a way to come up with Villain tributes and just contrived something that actually undercut the entire premise. Uh, OK.

People in the industry are thrilled there's a healthy new franchise to replenish the coffers, teen girls are happy there's a new TWILIGHT franchise to take the place of the old one, a lot of people are going to get rich off this, it's really a shame there aren't more people pointing out what an empty vessel and really, a wasted opportunity, this franchise is to be an action-filled sci fi story that has SOMETHING interesting to say about SOMETHING. But, nah, why bother when the only question you need to challenge the audience with is "Team Peta" or "Team (whatever the other guy is)?"

But thanks Scott for this thoughtful piece. Keep up the good work!

Ziserwahn said...

Is this your first time following an actor's career? This is how it works. They make good indie movies that go largely unnoticed by the general public. Then they make a bad blockbuster that skyrockets them to fame.

Girish said...

What else do you think happened with Kristen Stewart before Twilight! Its just how the entertainment industry works.

Matthew Lucas said...

I really hate it when critics do this. When people get up on a moral high horse over things like this, I tune out. Life's too short for so much moral outrage.

LadyLilly44 said...

I understand your point. The movie leaves so much out so that they don't offend. They skip a lot of things because of it, and completely changed the message from the books. I don't feel like they can/should continue with the series in movie form, since they leave out so many things, so many reasons, the citizens had for rebellion.

dizneegal said...

Yes, Matthew, let's just throw morality out the window...wow.

Brett G. said...

The lack of characterization for the other contestants was my sticking point, at least at first, for a lot of reasons you mentioned. To me, it somewhat dilutes matters when Cato is just the default Alpha Male that Katniss has to overcome--he's not so much a character as he is just a target. I get how that's a problem; however, I think this allows us to see the Games as the Capitol audience sees it--to them, these tributes are just kids killing each other. It's a tricky balance--obviously, I think it'd be a much more emotionally resonant movie if at least Cato is developed further. But I also can see that Ross knows exactly what he wants to do with Katniss, and it works.

I also don't think there's ever any doubt of the film's feelings about the Games; I think Ross and Lawrence convey it quite subtly--I love that there aren't any big preachy, broad speeches, and I really like that the REAL conflict isn't even on the killing grounds. For me, Katniss's real growth comes in how she presents herself. She was born to physically win these Games, but it's the PR game she still has to play, and she only won a small battle in this first movie. She's willing to perpetuate something that's false in order to provide a symbol to the other districts. I've not read the books, but, if they take this in the logical direction, it's going to be interesting to see how her truth and her unwillingness to play this larger game leads to a revolution.

Heather said...

Exactly. The film absolutely lays the groundwork for this - Katniss even tells Peeta that she has to survive for her sister. It's not about love for a guy; for her it's about love for her sister. She did whatever she had to. And the book portrays who she kills in the arena exactly like in the movie. It's not about her becoming blood thirsty it's about outsmarting the others. The reason she keeps Peeta alive is because of the rule change. She needs Peeta alive to win. And then at the end she realizes that if they both die then the Capitol loses.

Cp said...

Actually, you do see Rue's father (it seems) get very upset at the death of his child. Have you read the books? It seems like you haven't.. The "bad guys" are children who have trained their entire lives for this moment to prove that their district is better; they are well fed and strong. I suggest you read the books so that your mind can understand the situation you were confused by.

Me said...

I understand your wanting to sound amazingly intelligent in your critique, but this review just smacks of someone trying to tell the rest of us that "we just don't get it." Most books/movies with a dystopia background rarely give explanations as to why the world is the way it is. Be it Huxley, Orwell or even McCarthy, you rarely get anything more than "war" or "disease" as an explanation. As far as the morality of the film/books, it's actually very logical. If you have no combat experience, wouldn't for fight or flight instinct dictate a flight strategy? Regarding the end, did you go to the bathroom during two fairly crucial parts? By choosing suicide, they rob the capital of it's victory. However, the gamemaster panics because if you remember Snows little explanation of hope and fear as a powerful tool, to let them die could drive the other districts to revolt. And why don't the districts revolt all the time? Read up about Syria or 1956 Hungary and tell me if you're still confused. Lastly, we've all seen Saving Private Ryan or Kill Bill and played Call of Duty. We know what violence looks like. It's pretty easy to imagine. Why is it necessary to make a film better. You really would've enjoyed the film more if you got to see blood spewing from an arrow wound or someone's throat being slit? So, if you didn't like the movie, you didn't like it. But even while nobody ever said the source material was Brothers Karanazov, or that this film was going to dethrone Citizen Kane as your reviwer brethren's wet dream, at least make criticisms that are logical. Lamenting that Ross couldn't develop all 24 characters? You already thought the movie was too long!

T_l_fisher said...

I've read the book and seen the movie. It is one of the closest adaptations I have ever seen of a book and in my opinion it was an excellent movie.

I can see how the author of this blog missed so much in the movie. There is a lot of subtle points that can be easy to miss if you arent observant. For instance the pure silence in the districts in contrast to the bloodlust of the capitol. The gun toting Peacekeepers are dressed in white, so you might miss the fact that the district residents who are being forced to watch their children kill each other. Nobody is forcing them to cheer, so all you see is the silence.

Girish said...

I just came from watching this intolerable and boring movie and I agree with everything you have said, Scott. If I have to read the books to understand each and every plothole, then why bother to even make the movie! Great review!

Syareniponce said...

You kinda missed some of the point. When you mention the career tributes "relishing" their kill, how could that possibly be, how are they the villains...in The Hunger Games world, they DO relish their kill: You fail to understand that, since childhood, they were RAISED TO BE TRIBUTES OF THEIR DISTRICTS. They aren't "starving children," they are part of the wealthier districts who have the excess money and resources to turn kids into efficient killing machines. They VOLUNTEER for the games, as opposed to the children in the other districts who are coerced.

So really, it's a take on the privileged 1% and how some (not all mind you) are raised in this bubble where they are completely desensitized to the plight of the lower classes. In most films those people ARE the villains...the careers and their districts are just as much the villains of the film as the President and The Capitol folk.

guest said...

I just wanted to clear one thing up for you; the tributes that were "the bad guys" were trained their entire lives to volunteer to go into the games. They were well fed and ready to die if necessary. If you had read the books you would know that. I agree that the movie did not do a good enough job explaining that... but, that it why they were portrayed as the "bad guys".

guest said...

Actually they don't show much of Gale at all in the movie. They downplayed the connection between Gale and Katniss and it was extremely upsetting.

Matthew Lucas said...

No one is making you watch this film. But most of the criticisms of The Hunger Games as being immoral reek of projections of the viewers own hang-ups rather than something that is actually there.

el montruo de las galletas said...

I fear they will do something similar with next year's upcoming "Ender's Game" adaptation, in this case trading the selling point, instead of "love triangle" there'll be a shitload of (more o less amazing) CGI and Special effects...

UrsNY said...

Excellent review! Ebert hinted at something similar, but this really maps it out. I haven't read the books or seen the movie, and probably won't. After the disappointment of the Harry Potter books, I'm no longer interested in YA anything. This actually reminds me of the Daniel Hemmens essay "When Harry Met Buffy" on evil and childhood: http://ferretbrain.com/articles/article-128

Simoncolumb said...

I think the film is flawed in so many other ways - but you're right, no clear purpose or stance on the issues it raises blurs the boundaries and asks us "what is the point". Some great ideas, but nothing is followed-through ...

Rick's Cafe Texan said...

Right on, Mr. Mendelson, Preach It! I had a similar reaction after watching The Hunger Games (especially after finding that Peeta would live despite the premise presented, a point that sunk the film to where nothing would have brought it back), but you put it far better than I did. I've been called all sorts of things for not thinking The Hunger Games are the Citizen Kane of young adult adaptations. Trust me...it's a lonely road we travel. You just keep fighting the good fight, and know that in this case, you do have an ally.

Rick's Cafe Texan said...

Again, why do you HAVE to read the books before watching the movie? The books aren't the things being judged; the movie is. A good adaptation will keep the non-reader of the book as entertained & involved as the reader, not have them ask questions or wonder about plot points.

Adam said...

I agree that the horror of the Hunger Games was sanitized in the movie, kids killing kids for entertainments in obviously horrible. However, I think within that there were good guys and bad guys. Sure it would have been nice to have more backstory on the other contestants, but we saw enough to know that most were kids who embraced the idea or went along because that's just how things were and "they had no choice", and then there a few kids (primarily Katniss) who resisted at best they could. The fact that Katniss' only kill was in self defense speaks to the point that while she had every incentive to win she refused to play the game. Even at the end she decided she'd rather die than kill Peeta to win. I think it's unfair to speculate that that's merely about just not wanting to show a girl kill someone. It would be vastly different movie if Katniss won based on her hunting skills and by killing the most contestants, and not necessarily a better one because she wouldn't have challenged the system.

John Dolan said...

Ah, Scott, you really need to read Eileen Jones's review. She does her best to talk you down from that sanctimonious film-journal horror you affect.

http://exiledonline.com/the-hunger-games-a-belated-wtf/

humandecency said...

I am additionally disturbed by this movie because the last thing our culture needs right now is to promote the girl-hunter weilding a bow and arrow as if that is a weapon from a more civilized time. Bowhunting is a cruel sport. Deer have taken it through the eyes and nose and run for hours and days before they die. This is the not the kind of crap we need in this day and age when the human population has nearly won it war on wildlife and the environment.

Hotsizz20 said...

Amen. The Hunger Games tries to play the angle of the corrupted government and a girl saving the world blah blah but at the end of the day it's a sappy romance.

me said...

Wow. Behind the amazing use of vocabulary and seemingly well thought out critiques, there's a bunch of nothing. You were either asleep for the majority of the movie or weren't paying attention at all. The movie is so much more than anything up there. Katniss definitely grows from beginning to end. In the beginning all she's thinking about is keeping her family safe, by the end she wants to show the Capitol they don't own her or Peeta. As for the parents not being upset, did you not see her mother when she came to visit her? Or Rue's father after her death? No one wants to send their child to be killed, but they have no choice. The Games were explained in the beginning and in the video at the Reaping. As for the Careers, they explained them. The Careers take pride in murdering because that's how they were raised. But by the end, we're shown that even they realize they were only being used. Cato's monologue shows amazing growth in his character. He comes to realize it was all for the games, he was just a piece in their games, that he was born to die. The movie does not, in any way at all, promote the killing of 23 innocent children. It's a story of survival. Of trying to live in a world where you're only born to die. It's a story of overcoming a government that does nothing but kill your children, family, and those you love. It's not a love story at all. And if you think that, then you really need to re-watch the movie. You say the movie was too long, yet you complain that not all characters were given justice. You can't fully develop 24 tributes in a reasonable amount of time. If Ross was truly promoting child murder, he would've shown, in great detail, the murder of each and every one of the tributes. He focused on Katniss, because THAT'S WHAT THE BOOKS ABOUT. It's not a love story, or a murder story, or anything like that. The Hunger Games are a story of fighting for whats right, proving that you're not just a piece in their deadly games, it's a story about survival. Next time you want to publish your opinion, actually pay attention to the depth of this movie.

Me said...

You obviously did not pay attention at all. The Hunger Games is not a romance on any level. Katniss did what she did in order to survive and get home to her mother and sister. It was all for the games. At the end of the day, it's a story of survival and overcoming an extremely corrupt government.

me said...

You actually didn't have to read the books. It was said in the movie when the Careers were first introduced.

Me said...

You, apparently, speak without thinking. The Hunger Games, for the millionth times, is about survival and stopping an extremely corrupt government. It's pretty simple. My 12 year old cousin understands it better than you do. There are no damn "Teams" in the movie whatsoever. It is NOT a love story. And you obviously have no media culture intelligence either. There is no way you can even begin to compare Twilight to the Hunger Games. They are two extremely different books/movies with two extremely different plots. The Careers are trained, from birth, to believe the Hunger Games are a necessary part of life, that will bring honor to the district. By the end of the movie Cato realizes that he's only a piece in the Capitols murderous games. You obviously failed to notice that. His monologue shows that, even the most blood-thirsty among them, know what they're doing is wrong. I think it's kind of sad a bunch of teenagers understand the message behind this movie way better than you.

Hbcanlas7 said...

Stay hydrated. Seniors are more likely to dehydrate than younger people.
cremation flagstaff az

Alli said...

It appalls me that a film that glorifies the killing of young people is marketed as a film for kids, I decided to read the Books (one book split into three which is how we market books now it seems!) and found the celebration of the victim, the sappy romance and the glorification of violence against youngsters purile and patronizing to youngsters. The propaganda of todays society veiled in this dystopian view was unsettling. From most news coverage of youth today we could be forgiven for believing they are the devils incarnate and now we are to watch them all be it fictionally capped for the greater good and for the sins of their fathers. I am not a youngster so I have had years of reading classics and not so classic books about dystopian future worlds and historical books about a past not unlike the one in the film so I can say I find these books badly written, poorly plotted and pitiful. The film is grotesque and the plaudits for the book and film offered from people so starved for really well written books and crafted films so well made they don't fall short of their chosen audience and need no extra explaining. Thank you for your blog. It is refreshing to read something that challenges the conventional view. I hate to see another terrible book become a terrible film and know there are amazing writers out there being ignored so we can all suck up this tasteless, pointless muck.

ANHTONYSAVAGE said...

Stop trying to be smart by over complicating your sentences. It dosent make you smart

Dundee85 said...

It's clear from reading your review you haven't read the book. You don't understand some of the character's motives. Cato and Clove from District 2 are trained for the games. Those who volunteer from District 2 are held in high honor, they want to be there, at least compared to the other characters.
Katniss knows she could never live with herself if she killed Peeta at the end, she also knows those back home would cast her out for such an act. She questions her own motives for pulling out the berries... was it to save Peeta? To send a big F U to the capital? Or just an act of survival? She doesn't really know herself, and it leaves the reader/audience to speculate as well.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Labels