Saturday, March 31, 2012

Let's Review: The Hunger Games

I must say that I have never read this book series before, but the second I saw the first trailer, I knew I wanted to see this film. I of course wasn’t the only one who had this thought. For weeks I’ve heard chatter about this film and how many people were looking forward to it. When I sat down in the theater I realized that this was the first time I’ve been in a packed theater since the last Harry Potter film. So did this film live up to everyone’s and my own expectations? Let’s review The Hunger Games.
The Negative
I don’t usually complain about the length of movies. In most cases I find films usually accomplish everything they need to in the time allotted to them, but at 2 hours and 22 minutes The Hunger Games feels long. Maybe it’s the fact that we spend the majority of the film within the same forested area, but I found myself repeatedly looking at my watch. This isn’t to say that the film was boring; the problem is that some scenes had a tendency to drag on too long. I’d say that this film could have been cut by a half hour and it would have done just fine.
However, despite the fact the some scenes dragged on the real problem of the film is that the camera could not hold onto a shot for more than five seconds. This film was exceedingly jump-cut happy. The last fight scene in the film is a disorienting mess because the camera doesn’t want to focus on anything for more than a millisecond; even then it was too shaky to even make anything out. When situations like these come up, I always turn to Star Wars. You remember the scene where Luke Skywalker is standing on a hill looking out at the twin suns setting off in the distance? The reason that scene is so iconic isn’t because of how many angles we showed that scene, it works because it is an emotional pause in the film. We see that vast foreign distance that seems so far away and then we focus on Luke’s reaction, seeing in his eyes that look of desperation to be in a galaxy far far away. We get two shots in that one scene, and that is all we needed to get one of the most iconic moments in film. It’s a problem that too many film makers make these days. They believe that camera shots should be a jittery and energized as the action scenes they are filming.
The Positive
I really loved the concept of this film, the fact that such a horrifying subject such as children having to fight each other to the death because of food supplies and punishment has been turned into the latest and greatest television show on the planet really sold this concept for me. I liked how most of the film focused not on the battle, but on the fact that they needed to win over the viewers in order to get supplies from them so that they could survive. It was intriguing to see how politics and favor would key into survival. One of my favorite scenes in the film is when the main character’s trainer, Haymitch, sees her plight and decides to start playing the crowd for support in order to keep her alive. This battle had many sides to it, and each one needed to be played in order for them to survive it. It was this idea that made me love this film.
Jennifer Lawrence was amazing in this film as Katniss Everdeen. I swear someone should give her an award for this performance. She was able to perfectly pull off the harsh cold exterior while still being able to hold on to her humanity. Katniss wasn’t a walking stiff, she just didn’t relate well to others, and Lawrence pulled this off spectacularly. Her performance made this film work. Another actress I want to point out is Amandla Stenberg who played Rue. It is incredibly rare to find a child actress as competent as she was in this film. She seem like an actual little kid being put into this situation instead of the really stiff acting we usually get from kids.
In Conclusion
I believe that this film will go down as one of the better films this year. Personally I think if a little bit more care was put into the camera work it could have been the best. Though I think that the film truly succeeds in the way that all good films should, it has made me want to read the book where this magnificent story came from. 4 out of 5.