Saturday, April 14, 2012

"The Hunger Games" (2012) - Movie Review

My initial thoughts were that I should not have watched “The Hunger Games” without watching “Lord of flies” and Japanese film “Battle Royale” to understand the similarities, dissimilarities and may be to throttle the ammo if it turns out quite the opposite of the expectation. But I do not think that should be the case as any film should stand on its own overcoming these comparisons. “The Hunger Games” as numerous films that gets adapted from best selling novels should over come those expectation. A presentation is measured and judged on its singular existence of what it is than the purity and adaptation from the source. Often it has been proven that a film cannot fulfill the imagination that was manifested through a book. It is apples and oranges and the mediums provide an unique but different experience in its own realm.

“The Hunger Games” should have been a dark and depressing film to start with. Of course the idea is to reap millions which they have comfortably attained and for a PG-13, the film tones up high enough for the darkness and violence but falls far short on the actual gravity of the film’s undertone. Having not read the books and knowing only the skeletal of the plot line, I was mildly impressed with the way the film opens with little to none explanation of the time and place. The place is District 12 and it appears like a struggling coal town. People live by simple means and scraping food of their empty vessels. In that poverty is our stunning and strong protagonist Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), brilliant in bow, affectionate towards her little sister (Willow Shields) and keeps quite to herself. She is not there to please anyone and that is exactly that makes her incredibly likable.

Her sister is worried and scared as Katniss comforts her. We all know the ritual. The children of the town gather around as this ridiculously dressed Elizabeth Banks comes off to pick two names, a boy and a girl. The purpose still not revealed is for a game we would come to know and the reason, well to remind the perils of war. There begins the logical question of why such a cruel game to remind the folks on the war and why it is called hunger games? Let us table that for now and move on.

Katniss along with the Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) travel to the Capitol where fashion has taken a wrong turn somewhere. Everyone wears flamboyantly annoying colours and I would have liked a character either to connect the dots on those or at least make a joke out of it to sync with its audience. “The Hunger Games” chronicles the preparation and insight into this society where bad theatrics invites applause and apparently Stanley Tucci whitened his teeth too much and decided to provide a character that is neither insightful nor comical.

What the film has is Jennifer Lawrence, that brilliant actress who nailed the role in “Winter’s Bone” is the top contender for all leading strong female roles. She aptly is the perfect person to the play Katniss. When the game begins and the rampage of kids killing each other is put forth mildly for the content, the fear is so subdued. This is their entry to death and we are not bothered much about it because we are made to be aware of the characters whom we would not mind getting killed and then there are few who the audience would bawl for slightest scratch.

Nothing is more hurtful and insulting than ripe opportunity for a wonderful film gets lost in the midst of expectation and box office greed. There has been powerful examples of how both can be successfully achieved. Katniss is not the only soul who is been put through the misery of coming from a distraught town rather all the other kids including the bad ones should be empathized and sympathized. The wicked ones especially should have been given an insight on what kind of society they live in to volunteer and take great pride and glory in this cruel sport. Yet “The Hunger Games” is about Katniss and how her primary survival is the only focus and everything else becomes a shadow in a cave.

Directed by Gary Ross, the film began with much promise and dragged itself to the ultimate doom of predictability, implausibility and finally insulting its viewers treating them as people with finite expectation out of the book. While I snobbishly see the films outside of its business agenda, that is where we have to distinguish good art even through the box office need for profits. Here it begins to descend considerably and as my friend said after the film, “when the dog came out of thin air, that is when I could not take it anymore”.