I’m out of the target demographic for books and movies like Twilight and The Hunger Games, and while I get more ornery and crotchety every day, I still have it in me to check out what the kids are watching–just so I can declare my generation superior. But sure, I have enough youth and vitality left where I’m always hoping for a good yarn, for a film to get the mind racing and heart thumping. And I have to say, I The Hunger Games fooled me. When it started in the coal mining district of Panem (whatever) I thought, “Okay, it’s got a palpable mood and environment, this might be interesting.” Ironically, it held my interest until the titular games were underway. We have a crazy dystopian future society and a game where people kill each other, not the most original idea, but any idea can be good if executed with a little thought and emotional truth, and it seemed like the makers of HG were on the right track. The build-up to the games themselves was working, my heart was racing along with Katniss Everdeen’s (Jennifer Lawrence, who does command attention, just like everyone says.) and then just like that, the movie fizzled. I haven’t read the book, but from what I’ve heard the movie follows the book closely. So then I have to say, um, “What possessed you, people?!” You have a supposed bad a** in your heroine, the odds on favorite, mean with a bow, etc. etc. And she basically spends the rising action and climax sitting on her duff or worse yet, slipping and tripping and sloppy kissing her way to victory. That was not what the poster promised.
Maybe I’m cold-hearted but I wasn’t disturbed by the premise of the movie–except possibly in the beginning when Katniss’ sister gets picked for the Hunger Games and Katniss jumps in and pleads for them to pick her. Nice moment. Emotional truth and all. Not that I want to see kids snuffing each other, but I want to feel the horror. What followed, however, was a story that didn’t exploit either the premise or the events that led up to the moment of truth. In my mind, the big confrontation shouldn’t be with the uber-jock Spartan kid. If I’d been hired to write the screenplay, I would’ve argued for a story change, where Katniss is, indeed, a fearsome opponent who takes down all the popular kids with nary a problem. It’s in facing off with the little cute kids where the meat of the premise lies, in my mind. When Katniss makes nice with cute and cuddly little Rue, I’m thinking. “Interesting, I wonder what happens when they have to kill each other?” Never happened.
And speaking of meat, the movie’s called The Hunger Games! Boo to the creative team for not ever making us feel that hunger. People in desperate situations do desperate things. Your every day Joe or Jane on Survivor –a show that clearly influenced the film’s message– has far more wits and strategic creativity than what the movie accounted for. And people go into that mode for a measly million dollars, not their very existence on earth. I can buy that Katniss has a heart of gold, sure, we have to root for her, but come on! She is a product of her society, fighting for her sister’s life. I don’t think she was ever confronted with that dilemma. Oh, sure, she whined about it a bit at the end, but she didn’t ever justify murder because of it. I think that’s how her epiphany was supposed to take place. Least for me at any rate. And did Katniss have an epiphany? I can’t recall. I was too busy scoffing at the Twilight-like love triangle that felt tacked on even though they were building it the entire movie. You know a movie’s not right when they can’t generate the slightest interest in the story points that usually generate the most interest. Like, you know, kids killing each other, loves triangles and stuff…
Hunger Games is aptly named. It’s gutless. Ho! Ho!