A lot of people were surprised that I actually saw this film. I figured I'd give my take on it since everyone seems to have an opinion on the number one film currently at the box office.
I guess THE HUNGER GAMES isn't the typical film I would be interested in, but I really wouldn't be a true film enthusiast if I only watched Tarantino productions. My main apprehension about watching it was specifically the director, Gary Ross. I wasn't so convinced about seeing a film directed by the man that brought us SEABISCUIT and PLEASANTVILLE. Let me get this clear; I love film. I pride myself in an extensive knowledge of a wide range of film. It's true I love the usual suspects (Jarmusch, Lynch, Kubrick, Miike), but I also love Cameron Crowe, Gus Van Sant, Scorsese, Gregg Araki, and on occasion Harold Ramis. I'm currently on an Ingmar Bergman kick. Sometimes I have to watch things I normally wouldn't. Films are not always what you expect them to be. For example, no one knew Kubrick's final film would be a steamy pile of turds. By the way, I blame Scientology for that failure. No one knew WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER would be a masterpiece in comedy. Cult classics are notoriously box office bombs upon release or panned by critics. No one realizes that they will be appreciated much later down the line. Who knows, we may be sitting on a goldmine with THE ROOM.
Back to THE HUNGER GAMES. I heard about the books before the film a while ago from my friend Ruth, and they sounded really interesting. Dystopian society themes aren't my thing, but the concept really caught my attention. Also, the fact that such a heavy topic was illustrated for a young adult audience. I will not argue semantics over whether or not Suzanne Collins really knew about BATTLE ROYALE before or after she wrote her novels. Most naysayers have yet to even watch both films to legitimately discuss the two on any sophisticated level.
Yes, I realize there are startling similarities. As I said before, it's really comparing apples and oranges. I love BATTLE ROYALE, possibly even more than the average fanboy. One of my greatest passions is Asian Horror. I do not think it's a valid argument to compare THE HUNGER GAMES to BATTLE ROYALE. Although they exist in parallel universes, these films/books are intended for two completely different audiences. They also have two completely different messages. The impression I get from HUNGER GAMES is that it's more about class struggle. BATTLE ROYALE is more of an examination of the pure savagery of the human psyche.
Here's some things I liked about THE HUNGER GAMES: Jennifer Lawrence! I cannot remember the last time I saw a young actress with such talent. I became a fan of Lawrence after watching her chilling performance in WINTER'S BONE which earned her an Oscar nomination. This girl is gonna go very far. Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz are also great in their supporting roles. I also enjoyed Elizabeth Banks and Wes Bentley. I like how the relevancy of the current Occupy Movement tied in so well with the storyline. It almost creates a mirror to our own society's strife.
Some things I did not like: the two male love interests! Her partner in the game fell a little short (no pun intended) for me. It's almost as if the director went to great lengths to portray him extra feeble compared to Katniss. This was completely unnecessary since her character stands out on her own without any assistance. I think it's really fucked up that a lot of critics are saying Jennifer Lawrence looked "too healthy" to be a poor, starving kid. She's an actress not a Trollson Twin! Also, the brooding boy back home was a bit too cardboard cutout. He seemed to be thrown in just for teenage eye candy. The other villain-esque contestants came off very one dimensional. I understand it's hard to develop so many characters without creating time constraints. However, this underdevelopment portrayed the pack as foolish & asinine distractions.
With all that said, did I think THE HUNGER GAMES was the worst movie ever? Certainly not! Was it the best movie ever? No, but it is worth seeing at least once. Since this is a film based on a young adult novel, you should always keep that in mind. When I was a kid, I admired mutant turtles and millionaire playboys who dressed up as bats. It's definitely a breath of fresh air to see a character young girls can actually relate to; a character who is strong, smart, stubborn, and honest. This is a much better example to look up to than some dense, damsel in distress who's trying to bang a werewolf & vampire at the same time.
It's true I am extremely opinionated when it comes to film. I usually trust my instincts when choosing something to watch and I'm usually right. For the most part, I try to give everything (within reason) a chance. Except for James Cameron, he doesn't deserve shit. Anyhow, I enjoyed THE HUNGER GAMES, but I'm not gonna run to Hot Topic to buy a t-shirt. I am curious to see how the next two installments play out after the success of this one. Stay tuned!