Monday, April 2, 2012

Hyped Games.

Bit of an announcement before we get started:  The very talented Harrison Davies was kind enough to post a review of 'Walking With Summer Dreams' on So if you can check it out.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I went and saw the Hunger Games movie with my sister and her friend. I haven't read the book, so I only had the barest idea of what to expect. But while I was watching it my first thought was "tyrannical government drafting/kidnapping a bunch of kids? Taking said kids to a secluded location? Giving them weapons and forcing them to fight to the death?  Dose this scream "Battle Royal" to anyone else? And for those who don't know, Battle Royal is a Japanese novel which was made into a movie in 2002 and basically has the same premise as The Hunger Games. No, I'm not going to sit here and bitch about how Mrs. Collins ripped off Battle Royal,
because that's a waste of time. And, so far as I can tell, she didn't (at least not intentionally). I just want to establish that Battle Royal came first. But anyway, I came away from the movie underwhelmed. I'm sorry, but from where I am standing, 'The Hunger Games' is overrated. Why so is kinda hard to explain, so I'm either going to make a lot of sense by the time i'm done or I'm gonna end up looking like a complete jackass. Either way, please bare with me. And also remember that I'm talking about the movie, not the book (which I will remind you I haven't read). 

First off, lets be honest, the premise of the story as a whole is pretty stupid. What sane government, tyrannical or otherwise, slaughters its youth population? And for what reason would you even think about turning it into a reality game show? I do remember the part in the movie where Donald Sutherland's character explains that the Hunger Games are a means to control the masses by giving each sector a certain amount of hope. Sounds like rooting for a sports team or something I dunno. But in anycase I don't buy it. Historically, successful authoritative regimes, if any can be called such, endure largely because two things: controlling the media/information output and brainwashing their population into believing that their way of thinking is correct. Hitler and the Nazi's were not able to stay in power for as long they did because they slaughtered million of people, they wanted power so they could do that. They remained in power because they stirred up long simmering hatred and fears that the German people, hell Europe as a whole, had been harboring for centuries, and because they promised to turn the ruined economy around, which the regime before them wasn't really doing. And once they came to power they controlled what the media reported, both within Germany and abroad, and they actively took steps to make sure that the younger generation would continue their ideas. I get that I'm suppose to "suspend my disbelief", but this is way to much of a stretch for me. If any country in the real world tried this, they would cease to exist within a few generations. And that's assuming that their population didn't rebel against it first. But now I'm reading to deeply into this topic so lets move on. 

I was also bored to tears with the characters. Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mallark are as flat and uninteresting as Bella and Edward. Perhaps there is something I'm not seeing, but I didn't really see any real character development for these two. By the end of movie I didn't really feel like they had changed at all. Sure their is a romantic sub-plot which may or may not become anything if they decide to make squeals, but for the most part, I can't help but feel like Katniss's was just hamming it up for the audience and so that their sponsor would give her stuff she needed. The sponsors are pretty much a magic umbrella that follow Katniss around and makes sure that nothing bad can really happen to her. Like for example the scene where Katniss gets burned and a sponsor sends her a salve to treat it, or when Peeta gets sick from an injury and a sponsor send her chicken soup and stuff to treat Peeta's wound. It kinda reminds me of Tuxedo Mask swooping down and saving Sailor Moon's ass in every episode of the anime. Its just plain boring. And that's what I feel  is really stopping these characters from developing properly. There's too much of a safety net. Even before the titular games start the victims go through a few weeks worth of survival and weapons training like Roman Gladiators, all the while trying to impress the aforementioned sponsors. I felt it would have been infinitely more interesting if they had just thrown them out into the wild and let nature take its course. But as it is, there isn't any real conflict to challenge the characters. And when I say conflict, I don't mean the fact they are all trying to kill each other. Violence for its own sake is not conflict, there has to be context within the story. And in this case, the context is survival. What I'm talking about is a little deeper. Instead of saying "wow shes killing people" I want to know how is forcing to kill affecting Katniss and company? How is it changing them? And as I see it, The Hunger Games is extremely juvenile when it comes to this sort of thing. Katniss and the others might as well chiseled out of stone, they kill somebody and are effectively over it by the next scene.           

By now some of you are wondering "What about the death of Rue? She died because she got trapped while helping Kitniss. She cried over it! That how its effecting her, she hates it." Well yeah your right. You know what else is true? After Katniss buries Rue, she effectively stops giving a shit. Even the romantic relationship, like I said before, felt like she was just hamming it up so people would feel sorry for her and Peeta. Although I will give Katniss credit for having the courage to give the metaphorical finger to the guys running the show by forcing them to declare both her and Peeta the winners.

Now look, I don't want to come off as if  I'm hating on this movie or story  because A) I don't by any means hate the story and B) I don't feel like I'm really qualified to judge it one way or the other. Because, like I said before, I've only seen the movie and I haven't read the book. Sure they might share a common story and characters but they're still two entirely different things. And judging one based on the other is just stupid. That being said though, I will admit that the movie isn't exactly making me want to pick up the book.  Don't get me wrong, I like reading YA books and watching YA movies as much as the next person. But if the Hunger Games is considered great storytelling, then I'm in real fear for the genre's future.
Well that enough out of me. I'm out.                          


  1. You have some really good points here. The movie didn't really do the books justice as well as I thought if this is what you got out of it. The books are written in first person from Katniss' point of view so we know while reading that she doesn't get over killing and we know exactly how she feels about Peeta and Rue. They can't show that as easily in a movie, true, but they should be able to do it to some extent.

    1. So my sister has told me. But I don't know. like I said, the movie isn't exactly making me want to pick the book up. And they could have at least tried to show us the internal struggle, like you said. I felt like the movie could have been better served if it had been longer. But that's just me.