This is a review and criticism of the Movie “Hunger Games.” I have not yet read the Book Series.
As far as the movie technical side is concerned, I have two emphatic words for movie makers out there–STEADY CAM! I nearly lost my lunch with all the shaky camera work. I understand you can’t show the gore and thank you for trying to not show it, but hand cameras wasn’t the answer.
The Movie focuses on a future totalitarian government forcing each district to sacrifice a boy and girl to fight to the death in pageantry rich television show called the Hunger Games. The heroine and the “hero” (we’ll deal with that later) are mentored by a drunk previous survivor–His advice is play the game, get sponsors, and be smart. With his advice and backstage manipulation and wheeling dealing manages to get the director of the games to play for ratings–this allows both heroine and hero to band together and survive. In a last minute rules change, the heroine is forced to kill the hero. Instead she responds with calling the directors bluff–nearly committing suicide. The couple come home as “star-crossed lovers” having given a sick society a great dose of bloody violence and a warm fuzzy love story.
There are three fully capable human beings in this story. The heroine, the mentor, and president of this sick government. The heroine, who volunteered to take the place of her younger sister, is ready to fight, get friends, protect them, and do what is necessary to survive the games she hates. This “do whatever it takes” includes playing the lover to the hero–giving the sick society her love story as a means to root for and help her. The mentor, a drunk survivor of a previous years games, is also fully capable-as a wheeler dealer, he gets help dropped into the games and gets a crucial rule change thrown into the games–this motivates the heroine to join the hero. The president is also competent–understanding the purpose of the games, to distract and control the people. He has the director killed when he fails to the heroine’s bluff.
Everyone else is a shallow shell of a human being. The heroine’s mom is shell shocked over the violent death of her husband. The hero’s mom is abusive. The games ridiculously dressed sponsors are more concerned with the heroine’s manners than the fact that they are about to die. Even the kind stylist, in a moment of deep kindness, tells the heroine, “If I could, I’d bet on you.” The other players serve as victims; their deaths dramatically serve the same function as the gladiators, to entertain the masses and cause them to root for the survivor–the cruel ones die vicious deaths we are supposed to cheer for and the kind ones die tragic deaths we are supposed to cry for. The audience is never invited to think that it’s cheering kids killing each other–even the “Lord of the Flies” didn’t make that mistake.
The “hero” is the worst example of this. A pusilanimous baker’s son, he plays the wimpy man to emphasise the strong woman of the heroine. Personally I find this type overdone. He also, more insultingly, plays up the romance angle. He can’t survive himself so he depends on his strong “girlfriend.”
That being said, the movie was well done. The story was very engaging and I’m looking forward to reading the books. More importantly, I’m looking forward to engaging in some very heavy thinking. These stories lack the one thing that made the gladiatorial games illegal–a Christian understanding of the worth of every human.
I have one thing that truly concerns me about the whole story in general though. While many people in the story hated the games, and hated the killing, and hated the government–no one actually even said it was wrong! No one in the story made a moral judgment. It was all what they liked or didn’t like. Murder, violence, cruelty, mistreatment of the poor, and totalitarian governments are not things that are icky like rats or mold; they are WRONG. And they aren’t wrong because I dislike them, they are wrong because God says they are wrong in the Bible. This was the moral failing of the story–while it said the games were bad, sick, messed up; No one ever got up and condemned them as wrong no matter what the consequences.