Movie Review: The Hunger Games
By Eric Hughes
April 17, 2012
But back to The Hunger Games. It’s rooted in a slimmer story (less than 400 pages) than A Game of Thrones, and by the Law of Less Pages to Reform for Film, stood a better chance at making work a two-hour movie.
And yet there’s something mighty stilted about The Hunger Games. It seems much of the time to include things for the sake of Hollywood completing an adaptation, rather than a true sense of it connecting the dots for effectiveness.
Cinna I’ve already considered. The other character that bothered me is Rue. She, even more so than Cinna, was hugely significant for Katniss in the book. Late in the games, she became an important ally for Katniss. And in an epic fight to the death, allies are probably key.
I kid you not, I got up to go to the bathroom about the time Rue proposed the idea to Katniss to exploit the mockingjays to their advantage, and by the time I returned, Rue had just about gotten impaled by a deadly weapon. All so remarkably quick.
Much of the movie was like this for me. I felt rushed, from one scene to the next, so long as cohesive story was had. I mean, reflect on the climax when Katniss and Peeta decide to Romeo and Juliet it by ending the games with dual deaths by poisonous berries. In literally the same beat, they learn the Capitol reversed its decision to endorse two winners, they concoct the berries plan, and then the Capitol contradicts its orders again by permitting two winners. It’s too zippy.
For what it’s worth, Katniss might be in just about every scene of the film, but she doesn’t narrate the thing in the way she first-person’s the book. This frees up its interpreters to embellish some things that weren’t at that point described - i.e. scenes and moments without an
accounted for Katniss - like the games’ control room with its Minority Report-like computing system.
Running point in the control room is lead game tech Seneca Crane, portrayed by Wes Bentley. And if you’re like me, it won’t be until his second (perhaps third) scene that the man behind that striking beard is the same man who played the tormented son of a self-loathing colonel in American Beauty. It was a bit of an “ah-ha” for me, as I don’t know that I’ve seen Wes in the dozen or so years that transpired between the releases of American Beauty and The Hunger Games.
Is it me, or did that whole control room deal feel like a poor man’s take on Christof’s moon lab in The Truman Show?
But I digress. The Hunger Games’ budget seemed lower than it should have been - in a Twilight kind of way - but, in hindsight, the executives could never have imagined that The Hunger Games would take in $150 million-some its opening weekend.
I do think the adaptation fair, and I think I’ll probably see the next one. I just pray for a follow up that doesn’t think it needs to maneuver about so hastily.