Friday, March 23, 2012

"The Hunger Games" (2012)

Some who read NonModern have probably gotten the impression that I did not enjoy “The Hunger Games.” In my reviews of the books [1,2,3] (the first two in particular) I tried to make it known that they are fun and well written and that they work as entertainment. However, I felt compelled to highlight the underlying problems with the worldview presented; especially considering the young target audience.

The first film, on the other hand, is a powerful piece and does not share a lot of the shortcomings of the novel. Most movies tend to fall short of the source material because a book can have so much more detail and let the reader into the minds of characters and explore the underlying themes more thoroughly. In this case, the fact that a film is open to a broader range of interpretations is a good thing. One can focus on positive interpretations of the material. In some ways, the film lets us into other aspects of the plot that the novel did not explore, even, setting things up better for the coming films.

That is not to say that this is a flawless film. There are little things that grate on this performer. Woody Harrelson’s performance is not up to his normal standards. The special effects do not measure up to the reader’s imagination—some (like the fire) even seem cheap and overly computer-ish. The aspect that takes the most getting used to is the camera-work/editing. In the early parts of the film it is almost unwatchable the way it jumps around and doesn’t let the viewer absorb anything in detail. When the kids start killing each other later in the film, the reasoning behind this choice becomes clear.

Both versions of this story are moving. Here in the film, though, we are free to provide our own interpretations and motivations—to hold out for some sort of hope. We are not trapped in the outlook and thoughts of our protagonist. It is still a world with no clear hope, and death is not a better choice than life for any reason other than it might free one from suffering. However, we can come up with motivations more compelling and inspiring than Katniss did in her narrative.

But some of us know where this story is heading, so we can’t fool ourselves for long. There is worse to come.

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