Monday, April 2, 2012

The Hunger Games

My wife and I saw the new film The Hunger Games last night. Here is my review and general commentary.

Overall, this is a good futuristic tale of a post-war world where evil reigns and the poor are held down in poverty by the ruling class. Every year, to drive fear and despair into the populace, children and teens are selected from the twelve districts of the country to participate in a deadly competition called The Hunger Games. The games are a huge event, televised to all the districts, and controlled by politicians and technicians who can create a forest fire, or a rampaging pack of monster dogs, at the push of a high-tech button.

The starring performance by the excellent young actress Jennifer (Winter's Bone) Lawrence is the big reason to see this film. She is great, and should get an Oscar nomination for this. The rest of the cast does quite well, including the weirdly Oz-like games masters played by Stanley Tucci and Wes Bentley. Woody Harrelson as the girl's mentor almost steals the movie too. I also liked the score by composer James Newton Howard.

Now a more general comment. I have not read the books. So I rely on my wife's comment that the movie did a nice job of translating the first book to the screen.

While watching the film, I found myself shifting in my seat a lot. Not exactly bored, but also never fully engaged by the tale, I have been trying to figure out what the problem was.

Here it is: The Hunger Games is derivative of so many other films, TV shows, and stories that I found myself thinking more about them than the movie in front of me. For example, I found myself reflecting on the classic UK TV series The Prisoner starring Patrick McGoohan where Number Six keeps trying to escape The Village but is always brought back by his shadowy techno captors.

Other reviewers have mentioned the similarities of the movie to Battle Royale, The Running Man, and others.

There's nothing wrong with being derivative, and resembling other literary works. I guess what I would ask of such a film is to do something really different and original. Like McGoohan did with his Prisoner series.

Knowing that there are two more books, and I would assume two more movies, to go in the Hunger Games series, I will await the next installments, hoping that the story goes into more creatively original directions.

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Monday April 2, 2012

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