Movie Review: "The Hunger Games"

Movie Review: "The Hunger Games"

Move over Twilight, another teen dream flick is about to pulverize pop culture. 

Published March 23, 2012

Move over Twilight, another teen dream flick is about to pulverize pop culture.  The highly anticipated Hunger Games is predestined to bring in billions of dollars and lock in a loyal fan base.  However, don't think Hunger Games is another Twilight. Outside of the initial audience the Lionsgate film will attract; the movie, based on the popular novel, is mostly sophisticated and has the potential for broad appeal.

Surprisingly tolerable from the start, the Gary Ross-directed film opens with a poverty-stricken Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence ) preparing for the "Reaping," which randomly selects two teens from each "district" to fight to the death.  The death-match is titled The Hunger Games , an annual televised event that brings in millions of dollars and viewers. A total of 24 teens fight until there is one survivor.

In an era of reality television, where people are stranded on a deserted island (Survivor ), eat the genitals of animals (Fear Factor ) and fight till blood is drawn (Basketball WivesJersey Shore , etc.), the morbid plot isn’t far-fetched.  Many of the characters on reality television are either starved for attention or money.  The twist with The Hunger Games , however, is that these teens are selected by a creepy lottery system and their deaths are publicized (Honestly, we may not be too far away from that today.  We once had the draft, which forcibly sent young men off to the Vietnam War).  That said, the flick is not cramming a message down your throat; it's your interpretation.

Overall, one cannot deny its entertainment value, especially from lead Jennifer Lawrence, who is miles ahead of  Bella Swan, the victimized damsel in distress from Twilight .  Lawrence represents a strong young woman with integrity and her performance, which could've easily gone down cheese ball lane, was as solid as it could be for a pop film.

Hollywood A-listers and Oscar nominees like Woody Harrelson and Stanley Tucci help validate the flick in roles they could've played under anesthesia.  Unfortunately, most of the other characters are terribly underdeveloped.  For example, Amandla Stenberg as Rue had a meaty role but her characters needed back-story.  Nigerian-born Dayo Okeniyi as Thresh had one solid sentence, he was the one character who died that got a sigh from the audience.  But these two did add some needed diversity.  Hopefully, these newcomers will receive more chances in Hollywood, considering they both have star quality.

Speaking of the plot, Hunger Games is no groundbreaking story.  You can predict the ending within the first 20 minutes, but it's the journey of how the characters get there that is most interesting—despite some embarrassing dialogue here and there.  One of the film's massive flaws was the shockingly awful cinematography during the action scenes.  A spinning camera ruined several high-energy moments.

What made The Hunger Games eventually starve the audience was the ridiculously long running time: two hours and twenty-minutes. By the time the epic finished, people were running out of the theater like they just listened to a three-hour college lecture.   The art of editing has vanished in film.

All things considered, The Hunger Games had just enough attractive people to satisfy pre-teens, enough gore to bring in teen boys, a sweet (and at times annoying romance) to make teen girls swoon and a sophisticated enough plot to engage others outside of their demographic.  Dare I say, The Hunger Games might be a deserving hit.

The Hunger Games is in theatres now.

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Written by Clay Cane


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