I have not read the book, and I think that was of great detriment to me going into this film. My wife and I went with very good friends who had read the book. They loved this film. I, however, was getting upset from the very beginning. Before someone comes and kills me for saying these things, please do let me explain why.
First off, this movie cost $78 million dollars to make. You would think some of that would go to buying a steady-cam. From the very first scene of The Hunger Games the camera can not sit still. I actually had a headache by the time that I left the theater. I know that I have continued to bitch about shaky-cam as long as this site has been around. But there is a reason for that. That reason is that I like to understand what is going on. Not only is their shaky-cam during all of the action scenes, making it near impossible to see anything that is happening or keep an idea of where anyone is. There is also shaky-cam during nearly every other scene of this film. In the very opening there is shaky-cam while looking at a sign on a calm day with no action or even movement happening at all.
Second, it should not be a prerequisite to read the book to understand what is going on in the film. I have not read any of the Potter films, but I understood everything that happened. I didn’t read any of the Lord of the Rings before seeing those movies, but I understood what happened. There are countless things that happen that make no sense at all, or come out of nowhere. After the film I asked my friends about a few of these and they had explanations, but if I had not had my friends there, I would have in no way understood what happened. I will make a brief list for people out there to understand. These could be considered spoilers, so I will use inviso-text. Highlight to read.
Begin potential spoilers: Why did any of these kids help each other if the entire point is to be the last one alive? If you are the weak person helping the strong person, wouldn’t you just try and kill them in their sleep? Why would any of them sleep next to each other? Why did Peeta help the hunting party to find Katniss if he was in love with her? Where was Peeta when Katniss dropped the hornets nest on the hunting party? Why would he then help her if he was just trying to kill her? Why did that one guy kill the girl that was attacking Katniss, but then did not kill Katniss? Why would the creators of the games be trying to kill the contestants with fire and mutant dogs if they were also sending them life-saving salve? Why did a district riot for a dead child when they sent that child there to die? End of potential spoilers. I have a lot more questions just like those, that I would have never understood if I had not read the book or been with someone who did.
The Hunger Games had deeper problems than that though. Number one, who was the bad guy? The best that I can come up with is that it is going to be a government versus the people thing, since they had that one riot scene. But none of that really occurred in this film. I know that the bad guy wasn’t really any of the children since they were all thrown in to this death match by other people’s choices. Everyone who could have been a potential villain, like the game maker, ended up helping the kids just as much as they ended up hurting them.
The second deep problem was motivations. None of the characters seemed to have any for the massive character changes that they had. One minute, the mentor Haymitch is an asshole drunk, then the next minute he is Obi-Wan Kenobi. First, Katniss says that she sucks at getting people to like her, then in the next scene she gets the world to fall in love with her. Peeta loves Katniss, then is with the party trying to kill her and then loves her again all without explanation. Cato spends the entire movie being a dick and then at the end gives a speech about how we are all just victims like I am supposed to give a crap about him for some reason.
In the end, I just didn’t really give a crap about anyone in this film. From what I have read the movie hits all of the main points of the book, but without all of the explanation that I am sure was in the book, none of it seemed to have a reason for happening. To be honest, I still don’t even know why it is called The Hunger Games.
This is not a male/female thing either. My wife, when we were finished, said she was pretty regularly wondering how much longer this film was going to be. Without knowing any of the motivations of what was going on, The Hunger Games was just boring. So my recommendation is that if you have read the book, you will really like this movie. If you have not, it is not really worth it to spend your money.
Have you seen The Hunger Games? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.