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So, about The Hunger Games
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lpkmckenna
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Apr 12, 2012, 02:02 PM
 
So I finally saw it last night. I thought it was really well acted, better than I expected, especially since it was full of young actors. But it seemed much shallower than I was led to believe.

Since this film is a post-apocalyptic film, I expected more showcasing of the world, why it was this way, how people justify it to themselves, etc. The world should be another character, but it isn't, it's very glossed over.

It was also kinda slow moving, except for the camera. I'm not exaggerating: there's more shaky cam in the first 5 mins than the entire Bourne series put together. And the action scenes were terrible, not a single thing memorable about them, which didn't matter since you couldn't see through the shaky cam anyway.

And the action and the dialogue doesn't really match. For instance, the kids were told most of them would die of dehydration, infection, or malnutrition, not violence. But frankly, not a single character complained about being hungry, not even after being knocked out for three days. And before the action starts, the good guys kvetch a bit about having to kill others, but once they get out there, there's never a morally ambiguous decision to be made. Every kill is a righteous kill, and there's no anguish or regret at all.

And I somewhat expected some character movement involving the circumstances dehumanizing them, but no, the good kids are good, the bad kids are bad, and the only real movement is an odd humanizing of the main bad kid for a moment towards the end. What I guess I'm saying is, I expected a Lord of the Flies kind of thing when the horrifying circumstances gradually wear away their humanity, but the opposite actually happens.

But I guess that's the film's theme: the kids turn the tables on their masters and don't let them change who they are. Ok, but I just expected a film that drew inspiration from the dehumanizing effects of the Iraq War and reality tv would at least touch on, you know, dehumanization. Oh well.

And the film has a weird time feel. The movie is really long and slow, but it still seems like every scene rushes by too fast. The train ride to the Capital was longer than the fight training, and the dinner scenes are longer than the action scenes.

But the film has some good points that make it worthwhile.

Turning the tables on their masters is handled very subtly, and their victory isn't over the top or anything. It's so subtle, only the kids and the masters are aware of it. Good execution there. To top it off, Seneca's last scene was understated and perfect.

The romance angle is really well done and also very subtle. Leaving the theatre, I was still uncertain how much was for show, and how much was for real on the part of the characters. (Apparently, the book is even more ambiguous.) In case you don't know, the kids are expected to make themselves likeable for the audience so they will support them, and Katniss and Peeta realize at different parts of the film how to use a phoney love affair to make themselves popular with the audience. This inclines the games watchers to send them care packages. What's so clever about this is how it all deliberately deconstructs the Deus Ex Machima convention and writes it into the story itself while simultaneously making a commentary on phoney reality tv love affairs, celebrity love affairs, while again simultaneously leaving the audience to wonder "do they or don't they?" Like I said, the love affair is the part I expected to be cheesy and poorly acted, but it was handled really, really well with considerable thematic flourish massaged in.

But a strange thing about the film sticks out for me: the unintended racial cues.

Starting off, Lenny Kravitz plays the Magic Negro; it's astounding how often Hollywood makes this same mistake over and over again. Then, the character Rue is presented as a devious little thief (!) and the best tree climber (!!). And both her and the other black kid Thresh provide little Magic Negro moments of their own, saving our heroine from jams she can't save herself from. And then, the black district is shown rioting (!!!). Not rebelling, just violently lashing out in pointless, unfocused rage, bringing nothing but brutal crackdown by their masters. The message seems to be: the blacks have bought into the Hunger Games, rioting when their heroes are killed, but the clever white kids are smart and turn it against the bad guys. I'm not saying a commentary on race riots doesn't belong, but the message being sent is just all wrong.

Overall, Iiked the film, warts and all. I might even read the book.

There was one really harsh immersion-breaking moment early in the film: Katniss is hunting a deer, and her hunky best friend shows up and deliberately ruins the hunt for a laugh. But no one is upset? Aren't they starving? She should have ripped him a new assh0le.

And Jennifer Lawrence runs like a girl. It really grated on me to watch her run. They gave her archery lessons, but some running lessons would have been helpful too. She's worse than Steven Segal, seriously.
( Last edited by lpkmckenna; Apr 17, 2012 at 03:36 PM. )
     
andi*pandi
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Apr 12, 2012, 02:20 PM
 
I read the book first, and enjoyed the movie. They did shorten things, the hunky best friend was much more serious and yes, would never have scared off a deer, but... I was just glad they mostly left the characters intact. In the book the games last much longer than what, 3 days? and there is definite hunger/thirst/injury.

I totally didn't pick up on any Magic Negro thing, and there were white people rioting in district 11 too. In this future I don't think color matters, since everyone is a slave to the Capital.
     
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Apr 12, 2012, 02:22 PM
 
Eh, I agree with most of the first half of the OP. After that, notsomuch.
     
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Apr 12, 2012, 02:57 PM
 
Well, I've read them all (I have a 13 year old daughter), and I can tell you that in the next two books, you do see more. This movie was nice, but as with any book to movie, a lot of rich detail was left out, vaguely alluded to, or condensed. To the film makers credit, many fleeting details are recognizable to those who read the book, however mean little to those just watching the movie. But it still works.

I'm glad that it was not an epic, wide sweeping post apocalypse flick, we've seen enough of those. This is very much a personal story, and we don't need to be over feed how bad EVERYTHING is and how it got that way. This story showed us how bad it really is for a few people. It was a nice change IMO.
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andi*pandi
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Apr 12, 2012, 03:10 PM
 
When did your daughter read the books? My almost 10-year-old wants to, but I think the violence is just on another level than Harry Potter or other advanced books he's read. Light sabers and magic wands don't deal out butchery like swords do. Maybe I'm just being protective. :/
     
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Apr 12, 2012, 03:45 PM
 
IMO, 12 is good baseline for these, I ran into the same issue with my nephew and my sister asked when would be a good age for him to read them. Ultimately, it's about the maturity of the child, so with that in mind it could be anywhere from 10-14.
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ShortcutToMoncton
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Apr 13, 2012, 12:24 PM
 
Agreed it was surprisingly well-shot. Also agreed that the name made no sense - there's almost zero reference to hunger during the actual game. There's also no Lord of the Flys-type dehumanization or, really, much character development at all throughout the film.

It had potential, but was ultimately entirely forgettable.
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subego
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Apr 13, 2012, 12:27 PM
 
I remember hearing complaints the lead looked too well-fed.
     
lpkmckenna  (op)
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Apr 13, 2012, 01:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by subego View Post
I remember hearing complaints the lead looked too well-fed.
Yes, a few people complained about the lead actress' body, but no one said a word about any of the male actors, some of whom (Thresh, Gale) are built like superheroes. So, dog-standard sexist commentary.

Jennifer Lawrence loves her curves, and I don't blame her, I love them too.

If you could look like this, would you starve youself for a role? Me neither.



I didn't need Katniss to look like she just finished filming The Mechanic. There's a strong rumour that she told the director of X-Men that she refused to lose any more weight. I think Hollywood needs more women like Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Winslet.
( Last edited by lpkmckenna; Apr 13, 2012 at 01:13 PM. )
     
ShortcutToMoncton
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Apr 13, 2012, 01:09 PM
 
Originally Posted by lpkmckenna View Post
If you could look like this, would you starve for self for a role? Me neither. I didn't need Katniss to look like she just finished filming The Mechanic.

1. No harm in double-quoting this picture. No harm at all.

2. Why does it not surprise me that you wish to holy hell you could look like Jennifer Lawrence?
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lpkmckenna  (op)
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Apr 13, 2012, 01:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by ShortcutToMoncton View Post
2. Why does it not surprise me that you wish to holy hell you could look like Jennifer Lawrence?
I would switch places with Jennifer Lawrence in a second. She could make any woman go gay, and I would abuse that power like no other.
     
subego
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Apr 13, 2012, 01:19 PM
 
Originally Posted by lpkmckenna View Post
Yes, a few people complained about the lead actress' body, but no one said a word about any of the male actors, some of whom (Thresh, Gale) are built like superheroes. So, dog-standard sexist commentary.

Jennifer Lawrence loves her curves, and I don't blame her, I love them too.

If you could look like this, would you starve for self for a role? Me neither.



I didn't need Katniss to look like she just finished filming The Mechanic. There's a strong rumour that she told the director of X-Men that she refused to lose any more weight. I think Hollywood needs more women like Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Winslet.
Judging by the actual content of the complaints I read (which I toned down), you'll get no argument from me they were sexist.

Likewise, I think the body image which Hollywood promulgates is pretty insane.

That being said, "hunger" is in the title. I think if you strip away all the baggage, there's still something of a legit complaint there.


Full disclosure: haven't seen the movie or read the book.
     
andi*pandi
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Apr 13, 2012, 02:58 PM
 
Perhaps we can take the "hunger" in the title as an analogy. Hunger for freedom?

In the book it makes very clear the people of District 12 are starving, and Katniss and Peeta fatten up via the exotic rich foods on the train/at the Capital. In the movie dufus scares away the deer, but brings Katniss a rare fresh roll.

I had no complaints about body images for any of the actors, but the starving bit could have been up-played. I see why they didn't though as it would have dragged out the action.
     
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Apr 13, 2012, 05:16 PM
 
My takeaways from the movie:

1) Releasing a movie based off a popular young adult novel series is a good bet (See: Harry Potter, Twilight)

2) Releasing a movie against exceptionally weak competition helps.

3) The middle of a deep recession was the right time to release a movie about a poor rural underdog taking on rich, corrupt urban elites. The portrayal of the residents of the Capital was just right in creating an enemy that both sides of our political spectrum could see people they dislike in. People of a left-leaning bent see the "1%" there. People of a right-leaning bent see the "big-city cultural elite" there. Thus, both identify with Katniss, and both will plunk down their money to see the movie.

4) Related: This isn't a bad time to release a movie that has an anti-government, anti-authority tinge to its message. A lot of people on all sides of the political spectrum are feeling let down by their government. Polls are showing that confidence in, and approval of, all branches of the government is at an all-time low. The Hunger Games strikes this chord perfectly.

So basically, it was the right movie at the right time.
     
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Apr 13, 2012, 05:19 PM
 
Interesting. I was curious because what I had heard definitely sounded like it would appeal more to Democrats, but I'm not hearing any Republicans complain about that.
     
el chupacabra
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Apr 15, 2012, 04:10 PM
 
I enjoyed the movie, it was entertainable. I've given up on the realisticness of movies, of which this wasn't realistic at all. I imagine is they tried to explain everything in the detail necessary it would end up being a 6 hour Stephen King series.

I don't wish they had explained the post apocalyptic world however they really needed to if they were trying to be realistic. For example, in a world where people are starving there would be no deer, Jericho is more on point with this. The world population is too high to sustain itself on wildlife; farming is an absolute necessity. However I see no reason why people would be starving in a post apocalyptic world. My vision of such a place is more like post WWII Japan, or post war eastern Europe, Iraq, etc.. Those guys aren't hunting deer to survive... There's no reason why everyone wouldn't be farming.

The thing with the "rare bread" was silly. Cave men know how to make bread, it's not rare and never will be unless wheat goes extinct or something.

Katniss' advisory told her not to go to the cornucopia because it was a bloodbath. Isn't this a TV show? Doesn't everyone playing already know that? Was katniss the only one with an advisory? People wouldn't kill at first. They'd run to the center grab what they could and take to the woods. They would form alliances and tribes with the first people they ran into before plotting their attack. They would know this because they've seen the show before, just like survivor would plot a strategy. It's natural instinct for all animals including humans to avoid chaotic violence since you risk getting hurt. You only attack when you have the upper hand yet it shows young 13 yr old girls running to the center to fight big 18 year old guys for a knife and backpack.
There was only 1 tribe formed in the whole movie.

The forest fire and fabricated attack dogs beamed into existence were completely over the top. And if you had such technology you would probably use it to build a space station, or a planet, not dogs for a stupid game.

I dont remember them saying Rue was the best tree climber; but even so kids who grow up in the forest can probably climb trees pretty well. When I was a kid I could practically run up a tree.
     
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Apr 15, 2012, 04:30 PM
 
Feel good movie for the 1% cheerers: Atlas Shrugged.
     
andi*pandi
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Apr 15, 2012, 04:57 PM
 
The point is, they weren't allowed to hunt those deer. Those were off limits deer to the lowly peasants of District 12. Similarly, not that bread in concept was rare, but fresh bread was so expensive to be seen as a treat.

We don't know what else the Capital built with their technology, besides the game arena. Maybe they do have a space station and giant robots, and this is just what they do for "fun," or rather, to keep the rabble down so they keep producing the Capital's grain, cattle, and coal.
     
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Apr 16, 2012, 03:01 AM
 
I'd heard great things about the books before and when the movie came out I decided to buy and read them before I risked having them spoiled.

They're very good books, much darker than even the last Potter so ... I don't think they're probably "not acceptable for kids" though to be honest if the kids watch any late night TV they'll be fine. The violence is never really glorified which I think is key.

To be honest I was a little disturbed at points during the books. I'll say that the author really is great at causing you to choke back tears every now and again, at least she did for me. She very much so follows the rule that if you want to make your characters interesting, make very bad things happen to them.

Also the world is very interesting, but I'll agree you don't get a lot of the background until books 2 and 3.
     
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Apr 16, 2012, 04:23 AM
 
She is not the brightest bulb in the box, Jennifer killing a squirrel doesn't screw anybody but the squirrel.
     
mattyb
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Apr 17, 2012, 11:50 AM
 
Annoying shaky camera at the beginning, went downhill from there. Don't pay to see this film. Hope the books are better.

Still trying to decide if I find Jennifer Lawrence attractive or not. There's something about her face that I'm not sure I like.
     
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Apr 17, 2012, 03:18 PM
 
I enjoyed the film. But, if I hadn't read the books, I would have missed a lot.
     
King Bob On The Cob
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Apr 17, 2012, 05:37 PM
 
Originally Posted by el chupacabra View Post
I enjoyed the movie, it was entertainable. I've given up on the realisticness of movies, of which this wasn't realistic at all. I imagine is they tried to explain everything in the detail necessary it would end up being a 6 hour Stephen King series.

I don't wish they had explained the post apocalyptic world however they really needed to if they were trying to be realistic. For example, in a world where people are starving there would be no deer, Jericho is more on point with this. The world population is too high to sustain itself on wildlife; farming is an absolute necessity. However I see no reason why people would be starving in a post apocalyptic world. My vision of such a place is more like post WWII Japan, or post war eastern Europe, Iraq, etc.. Those guys aren't hunting deer to survive... There's no reason why everyone wouldn't be farming.

The thing with the "rare bread" was silly. Cave men know how to make bread, it's not rare and never will be unless wheat goes extinct or something.

Katniss' advisory told her not to go to the cornucopia because it was a bloodbath. Isn't this a TV show? Doesn't everyone playing already know that? Was katniss the only one with an advisory? People wouldn't kill at first. They'd run to the center grab what they could and take to the woods. They would form alliances and tribes with the first people they ran into before plotting their attack. They would know this because they've seen the show before, just like survivor would plot a strategy. It's natural instinct for all animals including humans to avoid chaotic violence since you risk getting hurt. You only attack when you have the upper hand yet it shows young 13 yr old girls running to the center to fight big 18 year old guys for a knife and backpack.
There was only 1 tribe formed in the whole movie.

The forest fire and fabricated attack dogs beamed into existence were completely over the top. And if you had such technology you would probably use it to build a space station, or a planet, not dogs for a stupid game.

I dont remember them saying Rue was the best tree climber; but even so kids who grow up in the forest can probably climb trees pretty well. When I was a kid I could practically run up a tree.
Picture the world as more like current African politics. There is plenty of food, but the corrupt government is using hunger as a tool to control the masses. Hungry people don't have the strength to rebel.
     
andi*pandi
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Apr 18, 2012, 05:11 PM
 
Interesting analysis here, a bit on the PC side but I agree with some of her points. I'm glad no one in the theater I was in cheered at any of the deaths.

The Hunger Games Movie vs. the Book - YouTube
     
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May 5, 2012, 07:43 PM
 
I watched this one the other day and was pleasantly surprised. Not the best movie of all time but given the crap that has been churned out for the last few years, way above average.

The one thing I thought was odd was the lack of depiction of the audience. As mentioned there were some scenes of rioting but there wasn't much precursor to that. Almost everything was either in the arena or with the people in charge. You never got much sense of the audience enjoying or disliking anything in particular until they decided to send care packages. It all came across a bit like a convenient plot device to give them supplies to get out of certain tight spots. I expected to get a better idea of the people actually watching the show, more reminders that it was in fact a TV show. Like they did in Running Man.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
lpkmckenna  (op)
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May 6, 2012, 03:55 AM
 
Originally Posted by andi*pandi View Post
Interesting analysis here, a bit on the PC side but I agree with some of her points. I'm glad no one in the theater I was in cheered at any of the deaths.

The Hunger Games Movie vs. the Book - YouTube
That was an interesting analysis. i didn't pick up on that issue surrounding Clove's death in the theatre, and can't recall how the audience reacted. Like I said above, I was too distracted by the awkwardness of the combination Deus Ex Machima/Magic Negro moment. And I'm not sure how this issue could have been resolved for that YouTuber anyway, given the fact that the "careers" were so demonized from the beginning, and the extremely sanitized violence of the film overall. If the death had been more graphic, I think the audience might have reacted differently.

She also takes a swipe as the actor portraying Peeta. I thought he did fine. In fact, I think playing the insecure, whiny, dejected male teenager is the toughest job in Hollywood. I went into the film expecting to hate the character, actor, and the love interest angle, and was pretty surprised when I didn't.

Regarding the casting of lily-white Jennifer Lawrence as olive-skinned Katniss, I'm not sure the issue is as simple as "whitewashing." Casting an olive-skinned Katniss would have also required casting her family and most of her district the same way, assuming Katniss is typical of the skin-type of her community. This would basically have required casting most of District 13 with Hispanics, but Katniss isn't Hispanic, she's a kind of hypothetical mixed race character where the source ethnicities have been utterly blurred away. Using Hispanics as a stand-in for this hypothetical race-blurred future would have given the film a "white oppressors vs brown subjects" quality that isn't addressed in the story at all. The film already mangles the race issue, and I think casting Katniss as white avoided making the issue even worse.

I don't think the foppish dress of the elites is a serious problem either. Frankly, it accurately mimicked the fashion divide of the past where wealthy men wore pantyhose, powdered wigs, feathered hats and carried parasols. I mean, when you look at a picture of George Washington, does the pantyhose and wig make you think of a drag queen? This YouTuber seems to think so.

On the subject of fashion, that YouTuber's eyebrows really weirded me out. I know it's not good form to discuss the physical appearance of every feminist trying to be taken seriously, but really, that wax job makes her look permanently surprised.
     
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May 6, 2012, 10:22 AM
 
I think it was necessary to have read the books in order to understand everything that was going on.
     
   
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