I admit, I went into the movie for The Hunger Games not expecting to like it. So, yeah, maybe there was a bit of dislike there to help inform my opinion. But I’ve walked into other movies lukewarm and wound up liking (or even loving) them. Hunger Games was not one of those movies…
Now for the spoilers (assuming anyone could spoil the movie).
First, even if I had never seen any ads – and I’d only seen one, over and over and over again – the first scene, where the 12 year old has a nightmare that she’s picked, and her sister assures her she won’t be picked…well, yeah, you kinda knew at that moment that, yes, the 12 year old would be picked and her sister would try (and probably succeed) at taking her place, especially since we see the older sister bowhunting. You also know that the older sister will win because otherwise there ain’t much to the movie.
Second, I don’t think I even bothered learning the main character’s name because I just didn’t care. It was an hour in when I realized that I’d been sitting there for an hour and I was letting the movie play out because I didn’t have any way to get myself home since I had come with a group.
Third, what was up with the tech? Seriously, people, if you can make animals out of thin air, conjure fireballs, and all that fancy shit, then aren’t they *really* the ones killing the kids? Cause I don’t know about you, but if I’m doing good surviving and someone throws a forest fire at me to force me into my enemies who want to stab me to death…I’m blaming the people who start the fire. And the screen of a sky? Yeah, who else thought “Truman Show” gone bad?
Fourth, what was the point of the sponsors? I felt like I was re-reading “Rendezvous with RAMA,” trying to figure out the point of the simps. “You need to be liked…you need sponsors,” repeated like a mantra, yet the only help she gets is from the ex-winner (whose name I never bothered to learn, either…a drunk Woody Harrleson doesn’t need any other name, imho).
Fifth, she isn’t much of a champion. Yes, yes, I know, I’m bad to root for kids to kill kids, but it’s nothing new. Battle Royale, Lord of the Flies, etc., etc. Kids killing kids for sport, entertainment, or survival is nothing new in the YA world. But the main character only really kills three people – one by dropping wasps to do her dirty work, one as instinct, and one out of kindness, since he’s being eaten by the magic dogs they created out of thin air. (Really, what happened to those foolish laws of matter not being created or destroyed?) I would have liked to see her really forced to kill someone and then have it change her. Seeing her going home having had to turn on her “boyfriend” would have made the movie for me.
Sixth, cinematography. Shaky cam is great. Really, I love it. Wait, no, I don’t. I hate it. It gives me headaches and makes me want to throw up. So the introductory and close up scenes that looked like they were shot by “a drunk holding an iPhone with the video on, chasing a rat who had stolen his hamburger” (thanks, Patrick!), really didn’t do it for me. And the heavy, heavy overtones of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery mixed with a nice selection scene at Auschwitz really didn’t help me want to watch the movie too much. I felt like we’d suddenly gone Sophie’s Choice, but this time I didn’t care who they chose.
I could probably go on and on, naming all the problems I had and the boredom I faced, but by now, you’re probably as bored as I was. Will I still read the book? Maybe. I know that books and movies aren’t exactly mirror images, and maybe the book will save the day. For now, I’ll hope this was just another bad adaptation that took out the good parts.