I admit I should probably read more books then I currently do as I've never really read the Hunger Games. I've heard of it before and heard the buzz the movie was getting but I only really saw one review of it that described the plot about the world in which teenagers are put in some kind of game show where they have to kill each other. Which if you describe it like that, sounds rather silly and ridicolous. But put it in an alternate world, give a reason why such a sport and why such an event would exisit and focus it either on the social commentary of our own world or on the actual characters competting, and there is a good sense of legitmacy towards it. And hey nice to see more big fantasy series (well more sci-fi then fantasy if you think about it) where the books are about a STRONG, physically and mentally female protagainist. And hey even if I never read the books I still enjoyed a good amount of the Harry Potter movies so why not try the same thing here right? Yeah okay I at least knew a good deal about Harry Potter before going to see a movie and only knew the plot and a couple of the big names here but hey that's the fun of going into something fresh: you see if it works for you in one medium and see if that maeks you want to check out the other. Either to see how it could of been popular in another form or enjoying the story so much you just have to see it's original interpration.
And The Hunger Games is a good movie... though IMHO there are a few problems with it. I'm guessing there was probably more focus of this in te book and maybe it's not even the point but for a supposed gigantic reality show kind of series, we barley get to know any of the contestants. Sure there's Katnis and Peeta, but who else of any actual importance did we encounter before or during the games? The only ones I can think of were Rue, Foxface (if only to see someone else's style of competting and having those posion berries on her), a couple of the alliance's group for the battles they had with Katniss. And heck, even Cato is severly underdeveloped. And he's the main antaonginst here (that our heroes can at least deal with) and all we know about him is he likes killing, he has pride being a part of District 1 and... dosen't like getting eaten by weird CGI mutant wolves. I always thought you built up reality shows by having various contenstants to root for and not just focusing on a pair because it makes it a lot more obvious whose going to win. Even the created reality shows usually do this. And it can't just be written off as the series tring to make a point either about this kind of barbeic idea becoming so popular millions of people tune in around the world to watch it either. Why? Because barley any time in the movie even really uses the satire. Maybe some of the first half with the interviews and getting to see everyone in professional attire and the talk of sponsors, and a few bits of the staff altering the landscape to make things more interesting but it really isn't build on any. Maybe that happens in the other two books/movies, I don't know but it didn't really happen at all here. It was pretty much what you see is what you get, and what I got was 50 percent of the "sacrifices" being automatically expendable and only learning a grain here or there about the others. Which really isn't the way you do it as even some of the worst examples of the "ultimate reality show where someone hunts others to kill them" did more with the group then the Hunger Games did.
And they weren't the only characters shorthanded. I know there's more to this story and thus more to them later but a lot of the side characters in this series didn't really do much. I know that Effe i suppose to be comic relief in being such a pampered brat she dosen't realize the horrors of the game and just goes on about manners and being proer and isn't trying to be mean, and there were some good scenes of her trying to interact with Katniss and Peeta and being told to shut up but then was just automatically shoved to the side line again. Haymitch the two's guide fared better and I liked how at first he was just there for the free food and only later bothered trying to train the two but he still didn't wind up contributing much. Yeah sending supplies but that was still only indirectly. Guess that was the point since he wasn't part of the games anymore but really felt like he had a story worth exploring and we never got any of that. Same with Cinna who seemed cool but I didn't even get why he was even so much on Katnis side since he didn't see her tough exterior before being so gung ho about her. And again someone who fainted to the background at the end of the movie. Same kind of goes for the other big bads Snow and Crane. I guess just having Snow appear a few times here makes sense since we're sure to get more of him later on as he's the chief antagonist and at least we got his solid enough reasoning on why he has the game. But really Crane didn't do that much: I guess as the host he was trying to give the people what they wanted and give the best spectacle and wasn't really as heartless as Snow but that didn't come across too well due to how limited appearences he had. Maybe if he was more of a constant threat then just the enviorment his dead would of actually made an impact. And finally there was Ceaser Flickerman, the talk show host of the event (and I guess the commentarors but I don't think those guys even had names). He seemed fun but again you didn't see much of him really since there was only a couple of interviews. Really they should of fleshed him out by showing at least some bits of itnerviews with other important characters but guess this was the Katniss show and everyone else had to get pushed more for the side. And yeah I know main character but really it does bug me in movies that have so many superflorous seeming characters who could serve more of a point if they were at least given something more to do. Espiecally when I know if we got more from them it would of made the movie better.
I think my last major complaint about this movie was how it stretched certain scenes out. I get the big funeral service for Rue and how much Katniss broke down about that, but what about all the fake outs of her shooting the arrow? Was it to show that she messes up at first and then gets it right? Didn't everyone say before she always gets it right so what's the point of that changing here? to show the seriousness of the situation since that dosen't work if she just makes the next shot regardless. Also the various flashbacks of Peeta and Katniss meeting for the first time could of also been trimmed. Espiecally since I think just making them a couple kind of cheapens their relationship: he had a crush on her but she grew close to him more as a friend and importantly an ally she didn't want to see get hurt which felt much more real then the whole "I 'love you" talk they did. Yeah I know teenage fantasy novel so there has to be romance in it but I believed more of a connection from when the so called relatonship was just being played up and she wasn't seriously macking on him. Also since it kind of just makes Peeta seem more the boyfriend character. When more could of been explored about his hole "I want to change the system around me and bring it down" which was brought up a couple of times and then ignored. Same with his lack of confidence since we never see him gaining that. Maybe you could argue he does at the fight at the end but I still don't really see the journey he went through making a full circle. And that just reminds me how Gale also didn't do much either besides have a scene with Katniss at the beginning and then appear in reaction shots whenever we focused on her home town. So yeah add yet another kind of not given enough time to develop properly hero to the mix.
However do all of those things totally sink the movie? No there's a lot working for it. And yeah though a lot of characters get the shaft, I guess if the focus is put on Katniss and her struggles then the movie defintley a good job with her. Like her anger against the capitol coming out in trying to get their attention by shooting an apple out of Crane's mouth and then later saying "screw having to fight each other. We'll kill each other instead and see how much entertainment you get out of that". And showing that though she could be rather short tempered, bitter and not exactly have the best social interaction skills, she was still incredibly likeable. From her devotion to her sister and then passing that on to Rue when she was taking care of her, to learning from the mentors and wanting to put on a show with the charioti and the flame dress, her grit in knocking down the wasp's nest and her own strategies lie taking out the alliance's supplies and ultimatley saving Peeta from Cato. And though romance played a big factor in her character it wasn't the only one as she also learned to trust in her abiltieis and relations with others more. And Jennifer Lawerence defintley delievred the powerful emotional moments like offering her mother advice, Rue's funeral and even snuggling up close to Peeta. If this is what Katniss is like in the book to a tee then I can see why so many people were keen on the Hunger Games if it was mostly told from her point of view.
And that's not the only thing I liked. Though I would of liked more of the history and to see more of the compettitors I do like the set up of the games. Why they have a victor instead of just sacrifices as well as how invested everyone can get into them. The set ups is very nice: having them train first and them having the weapons and supplies for them to take and having to fan out throughout the forest to try and kill one another. And though sometimes a bit too fast and quick the actual action scenes were exihilrating, from the alliance chasing down Katniss, to her shooting one of them in the chest, to that one girl being taken out by Rue's partner to the big climax battle at the end. Well the CGI wolf beasts were kind of a silly addition but the rest was very solid. Plus it does at least do one thing about reality shows justice: showing the drama from every angle as well as capturing the pahtos and pan in someone's face when things go wrong. And of course the suspsne of what's going to happen to Katniss next when it seems like everything around her could take her out. Plus spending a good amount of time (though not enough) on training and interviews shows even more on why these things are a big deal when every step of them seems so either massive or dramatic or lush or over indulgent or even psychotiic but it just getting everyone's blood pumping.
And yeah the visuals and audios were top notch (even if the fighting could be pretty confusing at times I still got the general enough gist to appreciate it). That Taylor Swift song worked a lot better then I thought it playing in parts of the movie (though mostly in the credits) and the design of the warship and the city and the forest locations were all pretty good. So don't think I'm hating on tis movie which I'm not. There are a good amount of flaws that detract from my enjoyment of it but it's far from a bad movie. Maybe kind of on the lower ends of ones I reviewed but it does make me want to see more from this series and where it could possibly go from Katniss and Peeta winning the game. I'm sure something about them having to fight Snow in some form but guess that's in the next or last movie. This one though: not a perfect first adpation but could be if the character limit was either shortened and more had time to develop or there was more focus just in general put on everyone but Katniss's characters for once instead of just the other way around.