The Hunger Games (2012)
Director: Gary Ross
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth
There isn’t much to say about the film adaptation of the first of Suzanne Collins’ dystopian trilogy, The Hunger Games. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that it was a brilliant piece of cinema, but I believe that it held its own. While the story moved along fairly well, there was too much pre-game and too little of the Games itself, something that had bugged me when I was reading the novels. This had been true for the film as well.
For those not in the know, the story occurs in Panem, the post-apocaplyptic incarnation of America. After the rebellion of the 13 Districts of Panem against their government, the Capitol has decreed a “treaty of peace,” ordering the remaining 12 Districts to offer up Tributes, a male and female between the ages of 12 and 18, to fight to the death in the middle of an arena. These games are televised, much like today’s reality shows, and are played up. People are horrifyingly eating it all up, placing bets on the Tributes, picking the strongest contenders to sponsor. The Games are intended to be a reminder of the Capitol’s power over its people, but is paraded as a display of honor, courage, and sacrifice.
It was an odd sensation—feeling like you were just watching something unfold before your eyes. There was very little that was engaging or moved me to care. Though it mostly felt like it hit one note, it had a few really beautiful moments filled with pathos and emotion. These moments were obvious ones—The Reaping, the first moment of the game around the Cornucopia, Rue’s death, District 11′s riot—but everything in Panem is tinged with hopelessness, anyway. There was just a bleakness that made everything overcast, but there was barely any sense of urgency that sometimes, you kind of forget how awful everything has been set up to be.
At some point, President Snow tells Seneca Crane that nobody roots for the underdog. A little spark of hope for the citizens of Panem—this story’s underdogs—comes in the form of Katniss Everdeen, the female Tribute from District 12, and you can’t help but root for her, too.
Jennifer Lawrence is flawless at her portrayal of Katniss. She is serious, focused, able and compassionate. While the rest of the actors were passable at being their characters, Lawrence practically carried the weight and tone of the whole movie. She is so perfect for this role, I have trouble picturing her as anybody else.
The cinematography was stunning, as were the transitions and editing. Aside from Lawrence’s brilliant performance, those visual elements stood out the most. The cuts and framing of the shots—swift, refreshing and distinctive—certainly left an impression on me. I appreciate the effort that was made to set this movie apart from the typical teenage franchise. It’s so easy and tempting to just be uninspired and unoriginal, especially when you have a best-selling series to adapt, since everybody already likes it. But they really set the bar high up. It was a really unexpected but welcome visual treat.
As a reader of the books, I was rooting for Katniss and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), and yet their chemistry in the movie was so laughably absent that I kind of want her to end up with Gale (Liam Hemsworth) instead. The other “complaints” are really just nitpicks, such as: How come they’re so clean when they’ve been roughing it out in the wild—and deliberately wounding each other!—for days? Weren’t they supposed to see the other tributes’ eyes in the dog mutant things? How come she found water and food so quickly? How come this is not the Peeta I have come to know and love?
On that note, I was one of the Hutcherson!Peeta advocates, since I loved him in The Kids Are Alright, but I was honestly underwhelmed. I don’t know if it has to do with the screenplay or the direction, but I was definitely less endeared by Peeta when I watched him than when I read about him.
All in all, it was a really good production, but I don’t know if it is, in the end, a satisfying story. Lately, I’ve been obsessing over CBS’s long-running reality show, Survivor. While it had a lot of similar elements with The Hunger Games, it got me to thinking about how ruthless people are willing to be when the prize in the end is literally outlasting everyone. It’s such a horrifying thought, but it doesn’t seem to truly translate in the film, save for a few brief moments where the scenes are so obvious that you can’t help but remember that the players in the game are actual people.
But after all that’s been said (by me, lol), I still am anticipating the release of the other films. I’m hoping they pull the others off, because the first film has a lot of great potential for something truly epic for the trilogy.
Or, There Will Be Mild Spoilers
I have really, really mixed feelings about this movie.
I think that it’s probably why it has taken me so long to write this review. I watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part One) on Thursday night. It is currently Sunday, and I still haven’t gathered my wits about me to write a ‘real’ review for it. As a fan, I think I’m predisposed to love it automatically. But let me quote the teen classic (LOL) 10 Things I Hate About You to illustrate what I felt when I was watching the film, “I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?”
The past few days, I am usually in that place where even though I am not super satisfied with the film—but this just might be because they left out this one part that I held dear and found really crucial to the story so I just might be resentful—I also want to maul and attack everybody who says that they found it dull, boring, and dragging. Much like this dude.
My Harry Potter film reviews always seem to turn into a long list of all the parts left out from the movie, so I’m going to try and not do that this time around. I think that because this series really, honestly means so much to me is why I am so protective of how it is being portrayed and adapted. And when people write it off, I get defensive because I truly feel like I am being personally attacked, even though I obviously am not. (My issues, not yours, don’t worry. I’m trying to get past~ this.)
Yes, it was a very beautiful movie, both visually and score-wise. The shots were beautifully composed, and it gives us a change of scenery, and also a change of overall mood. The tone of the film is set by the Minister of Magic, Rufus Scrimgeour’s speech, preparing us for what is to come. The film’s aesthetics really matched the content—most of it was dark and dreary, ominous and at times, kind of hopeless—and coupled with the excellent score, the scenes were made whole. I think, though, that they succeeded so well in upping the excitement of the fast-paced parts, and highlighting the hopelessness of the the dreary parts, which is why when the parts filled with action were punctuated with those bleak and tragic times, there was such a big shift that it was a bit confusing to deal with. Which is why some people found it boring and dragging. Everybody stepped up their acting, especially the Trio, with performances that have into something really commendable.
One of my favorite parts of the film was something that wasn’t in the books, but encapsulated just why I loved Harry and Hermione’s friendship. It was when they were dancing to a song by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, inside a tent in the middle of nowhere, after being abandoned by Ron. I am definitely not a Harry/Hermione shipper and, even though people might read this scene that way, I feel like it was really such a great depiction of their sibling-like relationship. The song choice was also perfect, speaking about living with circumstances that they could not help.
The Harry Potter franchise is largely about friendship and bravery, the weight of our choices, the complexity of a person’s character, the presence of good and evil in each person. And following that vein, I think the Deathly Hallows worked pretty well, but I also feel like this is also where it failed. A friend of mine said that what she loved about the series is that everything, everyone is so grand, and I agree with her. You see how even the slightest gesture affects the greater outcome, how a person’s decision to be good or bad can weigh so much more. To borrow a line from the Great Sirius Black, “We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”
To display that complexity, and reduce it from a book that is a few hundred pages long is a really hard thing to do. They obviously tried to condense it to fit as much as they could in such a short amount of time, but I really feel like a lot of the tension and moral dilemmas and character layers were glossed over and lost. Speaking of moral dilemmas, I loved what they did with the Malfoys. I really have got to hand it to Draco, and obviously, Tom Felton. It was one of the better performances in the film, for me, and I’ve always loved how they got into Draco’s character. Such a great source of tension—you can really see the fight going on in his head.
On one fateful day in May, I was all set to watch an obviously non-cerebral, funny-ha-ha Filipino film called Here Comes the Bride. While I wasn’t buzzing with excitement and anticipation, I was, on some base level, looking forward to it. I mean, I guess. I wasn’t prepared to arrive at the cinema and… be faced with Miley’s big mug.
But, alas, the world has its ways of turning a night filled with the potential of senseless humor into one filled with a lot of confusion and questions (i.e. “Why?” times infinity, and “How did you get made, movie?”).
As a movie person (not a buff, just someone who enjoys watching movies in general), I’ve come to the realization that I shouldn’t really expect much from Nicholas Sparks adaptations, especially those that he’s written to maturate Hannah Montana’s “squeaky-clean image.”
There are several things that are “wrong” with the movie, and very little “redemptive” elements. The characters were, in fan-fictional terms, “Mary Sues”1 with certain character quirks meant to wow the audience, but resulted in turning me and Raymond into a groan-y and eye-roll-y mess. Oh, she loves sea turtles and reads Tolstoy on the beach, oh, he loves sea turtles and quotes Tolstoy in its original, untranslated text. Give me a frakking break.
The movie was so unremarkable that I needed to Wikipedia the main characters’ names just to be sure that I remember them. (It turns out that I do.) Ronnie, played by Miley Cyrus, is this rebel-IDGAF-but I’m talented on the inside classical pianist with a penchant for the environment, lost causes and shoplifting. She meets Will (Liam Whatshisface) when he is playing beach volleyball and crashes into her and her milkshake. Cue painfully unfunny banter.
She got into Juilliard School2, but doesn’t want to go because of Daddy Issues with Greg Kinnear (who was awesome, obviously). He got into Columbia, but is being pressured by mommy and daddy to go to Vanderbilt instead, as it is their family tradition. Oh, my sorrowful life. What a frakking tragedy.
The movie stretches to great lengths, focusing on an on-again-off-again, I-love-you-no-I-don’t love affair, complete with random, hormonal outbursts care of Miley. The supporting characters were also cookie-cutter and annoying, serving no other purpose than furthering the “plot” and filling in the non-kissy gaps. See, there was a fire in a church, a dead brother, an ungrateful friend that needed to be saved from Bad News Boyfriend, a “precocious” (but actually annoying) kid, hot ex-girlfriends, and a barely-there mother played by a high-profile-ish actress.
I get the intention of “off-beat” characters, I really do. But the movie does nothing to make any of these work. Out-of-place quirkiness is what I’d probably call it, because the film spews so many details that has no place in the story. I mean, so what if she’s vegan?
Nicholas Sparks is an author who has been so commercially known and globally lauded, and whose movies have been box-office hits and mushy favorites over and over. The trouble with this sort of fame! is that people become way too oriented with the stuff he churns out. After Tweeting about coming home from the Miley Movie From Hell, Kit @-replies me with, “Let me guess, it’s a Nicholas Sparks movie so SOMEONE DIES.”
Such tired clichés that have been inserted so the movie has some semblance of substance is what ruins it, ultimately. The problem with Nicholas Sparks films is that he uses the same elements over and over again, and because of the frequency of his film releases, people begin to see the patterns form into their heads. Sparks movies capitalize on sap, and (usually) attractive lovers overcoming the “odds.” In other words, they are unabashedly formulaic.
The film could have worked if there was some sort of connectedness of all the tiny little details that could have been wonderful. What could have worked as a totally different, lovable film (because I honestly believe that it could have been one) did not. The Last Song was inauthentic and lacked a lot of heart. My favorite parts were the baby sea turtles and the raccoon that was trying to eat them. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I think that that’s an indication of a movie failing to deliver.
In the end, after much snickering and wisecracking, we still didn’t know what we were watching, and we weren’t sure if we wanted to find out.
If this review and low ratings on Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB don’t convince you to avoid wasting your money, just make sure you bring somebody with you to snicker with, or a vial of enough fuel to write a whiny review after you’re done seeing it.
1 A Mary Sue is, “a fictional character with overly idealized and hackneyed mannerisms, lacking noteworthy flaws, and primarily functioning as a wish-fulfillment fantasy for the author or reader.” (Wikipedia. It’s a credible source, shut up.)
2 Despite its average 7.58% acceptance rate in real life, Juilliard School in the Fictional Realm has accepted Ronnie Miller (Cyrus in The Last Song) and Sara Johnson (Julia Stiles in Save the Last Dance). It has also given scholarships to Ryan Evans and Kelsi Nielsen (Ryan Grabeel and Oleysa Rulin in High School Musical 3: Senior Year).
Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight franchise is arguably the most popular young adult series in the market today. Anyone who argues this statement is an idiot. If you watch television, spend a considerable amount of time online, or go outdoors and talk to people, then you will have heard of Edward Cullen, a “vampire,” and his unmatched love story with Bella Swan — holy crap! — a mortal. Lots of stuff happens in between but that is the main idea and Meyer hammers that into her audience’s head time and time again.
I have not been a very big fan of Twilight. On the contrary, I’ve spent many a-time online devoted to its mockery. A week and a half after New Moon, the much-awaited Twilight sequel’s adaptation to film, opened here and I still had not been able to see it. Until 10:00 P.M. tonight, when the lure to mock the series intelligently was too great for me to ignore for another week.
And so, I watched it alone.
In case you were interested, New Moon in a nutshell: loads of heavy breathing (not due to sexual activity), fast cars, glittery people with weird colored eyes, Jacob Black!, wolves!, sage advice completely ignored by Bella, and “intense” close-ups and slow-motion sequences chosen to convey several emotions… I’m just never sure what kind.
New Moon in an even smaller nutshell: Facepalm (but sounds good, man!)
In case you are still interested, The Unabridged Version of My Aversion To Twilight will be under the cut. To be fair, I do have some nice things to say about the movie. But, a word of warning, there’s not really a lot of nice things I can say about this movie. So, leave if you think you might be a little sentimental or protective of the characters in Meyer’s universe.
I am probably one of the few people who waited to watch the new feature, (500) Days of Summer, until it came out locally in theatres on October 21st. Because I am the sort of person who frequents the Internet, I have been bombarded by mysterious quotes from the films, lacking in context, and photo collages intended to convey a certain mood or message from the movie, for the last month and a half. So, I knew, essentially, how it would end.
But because I am a curious cat, I decided to see it, to find out how things would unravel. And also because I find Joseph Gordon-Levitt attractive. And also Zooey Deschanel.
I was admittedly wary of seeing the film because a) I am a completely judgmental person and I own up to it. For the last few weeks, this film was shoved into my face by people whose tastes I did not trust. I know that’s pretty shallow of me, to judge something based on what kind of person likes said thing. But I’m just telling you what I felt and why a little part of me did not want to see it.
b) I could not reconcile reality with a world where someone knowing who The Smiths are is unique. I thought, “Well, honestly, who doesn’t know The Smiths?” But my brother has assured me that this is indeed a rarity among girls.
c) Mostly everything the author of this post pointed out, pretty much turned me off of the film.
However, my reaction to (500) Days of Summer wasn’t nearly as antagonistic towards it. Just to clear things up, I did enjoy the film. I liked the leads, the soundtrack, the visuals, the editing, the supporting characters. I liked that scene in Ikea, which I am taking as a Pavement reference. I liked the build-up, the transitions, the clothes. I liked the rabid shouting of “Penis!” in the park.
My favorite part, probably, is the treatment and editing of the film. I enjoyed how it cuts the “500 days” into segments and rearranges them into a chronology that lets you understand their whole dynamic and the duration of their relationship better. Where it shows a scene of them in Ikea at one point, then returns to this a little later, bearing the existing context, explaining why that place is so important to the both of them. I think this is also a reference to how the mind works, when we remember things. How we break everything into moments that matter, and then look into the unimportant parts, where we begin to realize that what we failed to see at that particular time, there are traces of what would go wrong.
I remember where JGL’s character, Tom, talks about how he runs through all his moments with Summer, trying to figure out where it all started to go downhill. And it was all in the little subtleties that he finds what he was looking for, like when he waves that Ringo Starr LP and she was obviously fighting against rolling her eyes. It’s funny how when someone stops finding you funny is when you know, absolutely, that things probably aren’t going to work out between the two of you.
I like how it made me feel like one of the main reasons why you grow attached to a person, despite them being such a big douche to you, is because of all the nice things you’ve shared with each other.
Everything, probably, up until that last scene, I liked. Some parts were a bit too indie-hipster-quirky, but as a whole, I thought it was a very good film. I think the reason why I’d also been a bit averse to seeing it is because, really, of how hyped it became and how all these people who I didn’t share these sorts of things with were starting to close into the little part of the Universe I considered to belong to me (and kindred souls).
Something Summer said (about the sunglasses and little purses with dogs in them) actually made me realize that it’s really stupid to think that what other people like is stupid and complain about it. People like what they like, most of the time without good reason.
So, I like this movie, because I like it. There are many good reasons for me to state (which, technically, I already have), explaining the reason behind this attraction to the film, but I don’t need to have any to be able to say that I do.
And because some people are interested in these kinds of things, this was what I wore:
I only have to submit one! moar! requirement! this semester and I am home free. Except for thesis, I guess, but that’s OK. My topic should at least make it enjoyable for me. I pray to God that this does not make me hate any of the shows. I’m already dubious about Jordan Catalano. Do not need a reason to hate anyone from Buffyverse or Neptune, CA.
In other news, I have been exercising my tablet-skills by drawing what I wore today, instead of taking photos. Because I realized that I don’t really like posting on my Lookbook (I do have one, the horror~) and I really like doing it. This is what I wore last Friday:
Speaking of Inglourious Basterds, I went to the Philippine premiere last Friday, c/o Cinemanila1 and pretty much: Me = Blown Away. Since I’m not really in the mood to get into it (review-wise) and people are probably going to get mad at me for “spoiling” the movie for them, as people are wont to do, here are Five-Word Reviews concerning Inglourious Basterds and Atlantis’ restaging of Broadway’s Spring Awakening, which I saw the following day:
INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS: Five Words Is Not Enough. (Or, “Daniel Brühl is Frakking Hot.”)
SPRING AWAKENING: Regret: Didn’t See On Broadway.
Of course, I could write more in-depth reviews, if people wanted to. I just find that I’m met with “F U, SPOILERS R EVUL” more than, “Wow, what great insight. I will definitely check this out because it seems like a great film/movie/episode/book.”
So, there. I am done biznatching.