Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Hunger Games

  I'll keep this short and snappy because it deserves as few words as possible:

The Hunger Games is a poorly written, sloppily directed piece of shit, a soulless enterprise with as much warmth as two Daleks fucking. The build-up to the game is endless and unnecessary, doing very little to color its world interesting.  That world, if you must know, is a blend of  The Running Man's worst aspects (and fashions) crossed with 'American Idol'. Add a dash of '1984', too, but remember to do it badly. Also: hint at satire, but fail to follow through on the issues that satire raises.

The picture's biggest flaw is the almost total lack of conflict in the first hour. Everything that comes before the game -- in this hour --  could have been compressed into a five minute montage. Instead, it plods through enough expositional sludge to occupy close to half its running time.

I haven't read the books, so I hope they're a major step-up from this underwhelming feast for the young and easily raped of their earthly possessions.

Yes, the idea of a contemporary, media-driven game is culled from Kenji Fukasaku's Battle Royale, which was thematically aided by Peter Watkins' grossly underseen masterpiece Punishment Park. Both films, not surprisingly, are a hundred times smarter, more entertaining, and more economical than this. Other even earlier influences, conscious or unconscious, are Robert Sheckley's novels The Seventh Victim ('53) and its sequel The Tenth Victim ('66), as well Stephen King's Richard Bachman novel The Long Walk ('79), filmed quite poorly as The Running Man.

In contrast to the beautifully directed and photographed scenes of conflict in Fukasaku's masterpiece of raw cinema, director Gary Ross scores an  "F" for  haphazard and chaotic jigsaws of blurred movement. The action is frequently impossible to follow, impatiently edited, and there are a surprising amount of out of focus shots for a big studio film.

Jennifer Lawrence, looking like an updated version of Juliet Lewis, acquits herself well considering the trash she has to work with, and is forced to contend with a character whose fate is determined by scriptwriters, not her inner being. If she suffers from uncertainty about her commitment to a game that may kill her, we're not privy to it. In one ludicrous example of scriptwriting schizophrenia, she explodes at another key character, only to behave as if she didn't explode at him in the following scene.

The distributor of this film has done a masterful job exploiting what is a truly awful, flat-footed movie. Cheers to them for their seamless trickery!

4/10 for me (and that's generous). Oh, and 1/10 for the silly haircuts and fashions.

Why are there so many bad haircuts and ridiculous fashions in pathetic 'Dystopian' films like this? And why do the rich always behave like wanna-be Bret Easton Ellis characters? It's an insult to Mr. Ellis.

I suggest you go and buy Battle Royale or Punishment Park  on BluRay instead , or shell out some bucks on the just-released The Raid, a sincere celebration of cinematic animalism. Just try to avoid contributing to this stinker's swelling coffers like I did. Hopefully, I'll be forgiven one day.

If you're only ten year's old, you'll be all over this poorly executed garbage and its groundbreaking "satire"

The excellent Series 7: The Contenders ('01) was sharp satire on reality TV; The Hunger Games, with its kiddie-friendly rating, is about as effectively satirical as 'Punky Brewster'.

Afterword: On its second weekend of release, the film dropped 72%, a clear indicator that word of mouth amongst initial viewers has not been good enough to keep enthusiasm high.


  1. Read the book! Seriosly: read the book.

  2. Phantom I'll send you the books right now. Read them. I haven't watched Hunger Games yet but I love the books. Since I value your thoughts, you're making me not want to watch this.

  3. "as much warmth as two Daleks fucking" hahaha :)

  4. Yeah, the books are good. They're based on the myth of Theseus. And they don't let up.

  5. "Seventh Victim" is a short story, not a novel. It was first published in the April '53 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction. THE 10TH VICTIM is a novelization by Sheckley, based on a screenplay (by Elio Petri, Tonino Guerra, Giorgio Salvioni and Ennio Flaiano) that used "Seventh Victim" as a starting point. Sheckley's two sequels -- both novels -- are VICTIM PRIME (1987) and HUNTER/VICTIM (1987).

  6. Anonymous -- thanks for the clarification and this info!

  7. Interesting that you didn't mention The Most Dangerous Game, or Lord of the Flies, which were both prime influences on both Battle Royale and The Hunger Games.

    The Long Walk wasn't filmed as The Running Man. The Running Man was filmed as The Running Man. The Long Walk is about a walking race where competitors are executed if they fall behind or try to leave. The Running Man (the book anyway) is about a tv show where a fugitive is hunted through the streets of America and earns money for killing cops.

    The Seventh Victim was retitled The 10th Victim for its film adaptation because there was already a movie called The Seventh Victim (the Val Lewton thriller about Satanists).

    The film of The Hunger Games almost entirely leaves out both the satirical and the nastier elements of the first book. The second and third books each exponentially raise the stakes in terms of scale, social comment and violence.