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Film review: Lawrence elevates already solid 'Hunger Games'
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News From Bree
spymaster@theonering.net

Mar 24 2012, 6:27pm

Post #1 of 74 (1549 views)
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Film review: Lawrence elevates already solid 'Hunger Games' Can't Post

There is a certain irony that audiences will sit in revulsion of the society depicted in The Hunger Games, this weekend because it enjoys watching the blood sport of children while real-world audiences have forked over millions to enjoy a film about the blood sport of children. (Yes, there are obvious differences too. One isn't real for starters.)

The film, brought to the big screen from Suzanne Collins' first of a series of novels, is absolutely critic proof. It has a dedicated, devoted audience of readers who are nearly automatic ticket buyers and they are destined to love the film, and those that will come after, which are already poised to make serious cake. They will also champion the movie and see it many times over. Legions will enter theaters wrapped in tribute tees already knowing, before the film plays, it will be the "best film ever." (Some of this might sound familiar to Middle-earth movie audiences!)

But is it any good?

The books and the film are less-than-obvious young adult subject matter. In a post-apocalyptic future, the government demands tribute from each of 12 districts to serve as a symbol of its continued power over citizens. Tributes are paid in the currency of children, a male and female from each district, to fight in a to-the-death arena battle.

Katniss Everdeen - a reluctant and brave volunteer for the games - played by the low-key Jennifer Lawrence, shines and never lets viewers realize she is acting. She brings the vulnerable toughness she masterfully displayed in Winter's Bone, yet makes Katniss a completely new character. She is, without a doubt, the best thing here among a lot of good stuff. Performances are rich across the board, particularly Stanley Tucci (like always) as the scene-stealing, effervescent analyst and talk show host of the games, Caesar Flickerman.

But the whole film rests on Lawrence and she shoulders the load and entirely holds up the material. Her absence would have deflated some of the effectiveness here and left it a much less-quality film (closer to the level of the teen angst film trilogy it often gets compared to and definitely eclipses.) Without her, some dialog or even scenes could have played much less authentically and could have strayed off the path and into cheese. Director and screenwriter Gary Ross (Collins also is credited) translates the material more than adapts it, which will no doubt please ardent book fans, but prevents anything organically creative from happening in the writing and direction of the film. The safe choice works though. The cast of characters remains intact which is great for adoring fans, but it also means viewers get too little time to get to know everybody else in the story who isn't Katniss.

It feels like some of the performances were left sitting in a digital file (instead of the old cutting room floor) and a longer home theater version of the film is an interesting and inevitable reality, especially considering the economic explosion of the film's opening weekend. A few editing choices were jarring, leaving some dialog or cuts feeling as if important elements are missing - and I would bet money they are.

The large, unexplored cast means, because of time constraints, children dying in the area are only faces to viewers, not people. We are unable to feel the loss of characters we never knew. Oh and if you aren't familiar with the story - children do die.

If the film's premise of kids killing kids for sport (and political purposes) isn't disturbing enough, know too: there is violence. Usually the film looks away and displays blood rather than fatal, gaping wounds but we see open, dead eyes and weapons swinging, even if we don't always see where they land. One death by insect is easily the hardest to watch.

Despite not being a perfect movie, it is absolutely entertaining, contains genuine emotional content, a compelling story, more-than-solid performances and a dynamic lead actress who makes all the flaws only minor quibbles. Book lovers will recognize what they love and probably will not ache too much over characters getting short-changed because they can easily fill in the blanks. With a tall order to strike a balance of pleasing fans and telling a story to new viewers, it is a notable achievement and there may yet be a better version of it for home viewing.

The Dwarf Lords who rule the all-volunteer, not-for-profit TheOneRing.net from a secret underground cave complex, thought readers might find some value in a review of "The Hunger Games" because of a crossover audience that likes books and films. Look for film release summaries and reviews from Senior Staff Writer Larry D. Curtis (MrCere@TheOneRing.net) each Friday.

(This post was edited by entmaiden on Mar 25 2012, 2:09am)


Olwe
Rivendell

Mar 25 2012, 2:02am

Post #2 of 74 (1017 views)
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WWJRRD? [In reply to] Can't Post

Sick trash. Need I say more? Tolkien would have been incensed by such a film/story. You know it. I just said it.

On a personal note, I heard an NPR interview with one of Suzanne Collins' editors at her publishing house. He said that when he and two other editors got this manuscript from Collins it was on a Friday. And when they got back to the office on Monday, they all looked at each other and said "wow!" Yeah. Wow. It was then that I realized once and for all that I don't have a chance as a writer. Not with complete idiots like that as gate-keepers.

I don't care how clever-clever Collins is, teen exploitation is pretty damn slimy. And having us sit in a movie theater voyeuring good-genetics teens killing each other? Hey, let's do a big reality check here.

Time and time again I have to curse my luck for landing in this particular parallel universe. Why is the universe I really want to be in just in a fantasy book written by an English professor?


Magpie
Immortal


Mar 25 2012, 2:12am

Post #3 of 74 (947 views)
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I saw Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone [In reply to] Can't Post

and I consider it one of the best performances I've ever seen. This woman is amazing. I'm glad to hear she's being appreciated by a larger audience.


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estelien
Bree


Mar 25 2012, 2:13am

Post #4 of 74 (1061 views)
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Question [In reply to] Can't Post

Is the film an adaptation of all three books or just the 1, hunger games?
Since Hunger Games doesn't end all that satisfactorily, I would've guessed they would leech over into at least Catching Fire.


SaltedPork
Bree


Mar 25 2012, 2:30am

Post #5 of 74 (878 views)
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Ending [In reply to] Can't Post

It ends with the same ending as the book. The end of the book is probably much more involved than the film even. I thought it was good. I like the idea of having movie reviews on here. Good idea. Even if they are outside the realm of JRR Tolkien's works.


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Mar 25 2012, 2:31am

Post #6 of 74 (984 views)
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Makes sense [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
The Dwarf Lords who rule the all-volunteer, not-for-profit TheOneRing.net from a secret underground cave complex, thought readers might find some value in a review of "The Hunger Games" because of a crossover audience that likes books and films. Look for film release summaries and reviews from Senior Staff Writer Larry D. Curtis (MrCere@TheOneRing.net) each Friday.


(Too bad you didn't begin this series with Twilight.)

Excellent review MrCere.


Magpie
Immortal


Mar 25 2012, 2:40am

Post #7 of 74 (917 views)
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I'm not sure I've seen much evidence that Tolkien got 'incensed' by anything [In reply to] Can't Post

I think he had distinct likes and dislikes but I've never seen any reaction of his I could attribute as 'incensed'.

I think it probably works better that we all own our individual reactions and opinions and not try to foist them off on the dear, dead Professor. Especially when it comes to things he would have had no connection with while alive.

So, your reaction and opinions toward the movie are noted. I have none until I see the movie.. (not having read the book, even)... if I do. If I decide not to see it, it will be based on my own decisions and opinions. I won't bring Tolkien's speculated opinions into it.


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Olwe
Rivendell

Mar 25 2012, 3:39am

Post #8 of 74 (928 views)
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I have my theories. . . . [In reply to] Can't Post

I have my theories about why books and films like "Hunger Games" get written/made. For a long while people have been pushing hard against the mores, the norms of society. So often it seemed good to have an Ibsen or Stowe or Dickens rub our collective noses in our own hypocrisies. But at some point it got out of hand. Can anyone say Burroughs' "The Naked Lunch" is significant lit? "Portnoy's Complaint?" It's far more spectacle, far more political than literature. William Burroughs attacked the moral gate-keepers of his time -- as if they needed a good thrashing. Hey, maybe they did. But what about Collins and "Hunger Games?" What hypocrisies is she busting? What stifling moral oppression is she leading the charge against?


(This post was edited by Ataahua on Mar 25 2012, 4:34am)


TolkienOtaku
Rivendell


Mar 25 2012, 5:08am

Post #9 of 74 (971 views)
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My two cents. [In reply to] Can't Post

My brother has read all the books (he's 15 FYI). He literally wept at the ending of Mockingjay (the final book of the series). It certainly convinced me to start reading the books, if only to see just what got him so emotionally involved.

I agree that the concept of the books is a rather despicable one, but it's not the first. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami has much the same plot, and it became quite the franchise in Japan.

Why are people around the world so drawn to works like these? Perhaps it's becuase of it's repulsive nature. Perhaps it's because it is so obviously wrong that it confirms our identity as good people. All I know is that I'm glad we don't live in a world where children are forced by government to battle to the death on a regular basis.

Even if all the world
Became your enemy
I will protect you so
You just be there smiling


imin
Valinor

Mar 25 2012, 9:12am

Post #10 of 74 (900 views)
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if anyone wants to know [In reply to] Can't Post

the hunger games is pretty much battle royale but with Americans in it. The amount of similarities is unbelievable. But good on the author for been able to get it passed everyone even though its the same!


Nightingale
Rohan


Mar 25 2012, 12:21pm

Post #11 of 74 (980 views)
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Thank you [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
thought readers might find some value in a review of "The Hunger Games" because of a crossover audience that likes books and films. Look for film release summaries and reviews from Senior Staff Writer Larry D. Curtis (MrCere@TheOneRing.net) each Friday


This is a great idea. Thank you for a very well-written review. I have been intrigued by the 'Hunger Games' as I had never heard about it before, but other reviews did not really explain what was going on. I think I shall be checking this out on dvd release.




"You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me" - C. S. Lewis


Tintallė
Gondor


Mar 25 2012, 12:45pm

Post #12 of 74 (901 views)
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I heartily second that! [In reply to] Can't Post

Winter's Bone was a dark, engrossing story and she was absolutely convincing in it. I was really disappointed when she did not win the Oscar for her performance.


(This post was edited by Tintallė on Mar 25 2012, 12:45pm)


Tintallė
Gondor


Mar 25 2012, 1:14pm

Post #13 of 74 (915 views)
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So the savagery of Tolkien's orcs, ringwraiths and Sauron pales by comparison, then. [In reply to] Can't Post

Brave New World, 1984, Lord of the Flies, and on and on and on. . . Collins is not the first nor will she be the last to describe social inequities, totalitarian regimes, or humans' propensity for violence and power struggles. She happens to be a rather excellent writer and her story is told from a viewpoint decidedly unsympathetic to that society's status quo. And surprise! The teens rise above. They empower themselves. They choose not to play by the rules imposed on them by those in control.

It's FICTION. Really well-written, thought-provoking fiction, but grounded in human history. Gladiators. Hitler. Stalin. (insert evil regime name here). Our civility is sometimes merely a thin veneer.

My daughter recommended the books to me, and I'm glad I listened because I think they're a terrific read. I will be seeing the movie tonight with a group of equally enthusiastic readers.


aranelthehobbit22
Gondor


Mar 25 2012, 2:01pm

Post #14 of 74 (867 views)
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It was horrible [In reply to] Can't Post

They left so many plotholes if you hadn't read the books you would be lost on a few things. It was rushed and had no character development for anyone. A miniseries would have been better, I think, they could have covered more that way.
It did the books no justice at all. Jennifer Lawrence was too old for the part and should have been shorter and thinner (hey District 12 is starving!) and that goes doubly for Gale, who probably gives most of his servings of food to his siblings, not sitting around eating burgers and shakes and weightlifting to get the physique he's got in the film. That's my thoughts. (The condensed version)


Let's party! Get your TORn FOTR 10th Anniversary Footers Here

(This post was edited by aranelthehobbit22 on Mar 25 2012, 2:02pm)


Olwe
Rivendell

Mar 25 2012, 2:26pm

Post #15 of 74 (886 views)
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No connection? [In reply to] Can't Post

Everywhere I go these days I see people who have given up - on something - whatever. They have a veil over their face figuratively. They don't interact properly. And I'm not just talking about schizoid homeless. I don't know about your neck of the woods, but all the necks I've seen are about as far away from socially healthy as can be and still function. Here in the U.S. people seem to save all their mental health for the workday -- and then afterwards -- whatever. Yes, whatever people are doing, many are left out, many are isolated, alienated, angry, exhibiting anti-social, affected behaviors like never before. So yes, we have books and films like HG, but what's the price? No connection you insist?

AFA why we flock to see such low-brow crap, (sexual titillation, laughable character development, whole-sale carnage), yes, well, I think it's Western culture still trying so desperately to destroy itself. There was a time when there was no overt or otherwise sex in stories, no gross-out violence, and excellent character development. But Big Media has long since chased off all the good talent. Even in Tolkien's day, we read how lucky he was to have been published, and how the wags of the day panned LotR. Doesn't it make an impression that Tolkien and Rowling have sold well north of a billion books? Tolkien was a neo-Victorian, closet-monarchist throwback, and Rowling' never came close to any sort of exploitation of her teen characters.

I just hope the Slime Phase of Big Media ends soon. Again, maybe you don't want to see it, but I believe it's tearing society apart -- at the very least, bringing on a lot of despondency, disenchantment, and disillusionment. All in the name of what? For what?


imin
Valinor

Mar 25 2012, 3:05pm

Post #16 of 74 (819 views)
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Just been to see it [In reply to] Can't Post

I thought the movie was pretty good actually. The camera work on the other hand, dear me, it was awful! So much movement - im assuming this was so during certain scenes it makes it so it keeps the rating rather than becoming an 18/R and also to make you feel more like its happening to you as well. but it just made me feel a little sick and i have never had that problem from hand held cam style before. For me it almost ruined the movie.

I went to see it with my gf and she really liked it but hasn't read it. I think if it hasn't done well yet it will do.

As for the poster commenting on how western culture is just terrible and we are all doomed etc etc. What about battle royale? that wasnt from western culture but was about a million times more violent and gory. I think its become too easy to blame anything people want on western culture nowadays. Its not western culture its just how things are now in big cities. People look like they have a veil over their eyes because if they stopped to say hello to everyone they would never get anywhere.

I think you must live in a real messed up place and i am sorry that you do, but know that in the majority of places, people have happy fulfilled lives, sure things are tough now with the economic depression but its going to change.


SteveDJ
Rivendell

Mar 25 2012, 3:09pm

Post #17 of 74 (919 views)
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Loved the overall film, but HATED the jarring camera-work... [In reply to] Can't Post

...especially at the start of the movie, in District 12. Too much hand-held, jiggling, unstable, constant camera movement. Then once in awhile, a nice stable static shot of other going here or there, then back to the constantly moving camera.

It did feel that this style somewhat lessened as the movie progressed. Funny timing to this, as I would almost think the feel of hand-held camera work to be ok when in the arena itself (giving the feeling of the chaos there).

I sure hope the next movies can overcome this problem. I wanted to SEE District 12, not just quick pans/blurs of District 12.


But overlooking the camera work, the film itself was very well done. I was amazed at how much they kept of the original book. And I LOVED the use of the TV studio and commentators to add explanation where necessary, and using the control room to reinforce what parts of the arena are manufactured events.

Though, now that I think of it, I sadly didn't care for the low-budget for the flying ships. I wanted to see the ladders, her clinging involuntarily during accents into the ships. I wanted to see the claw picking up dead tributes. But NO - we are lucky to get a couple shots of a ship flying in the sky -- twice, I think is all. :(

Oh, and really, really BAD EDIT -- what happened to the cannon shots after Rue's scene? (Also missing from the insect scene)? Hoping these gaps are fixed in the home versions.


Annael
Half-elven


Mar 25 2012, 3:13pm

Post #18 of 74 (931 views)
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another thought-provoking review [In reply to] Can't Post

My niece, a big fan of the books, directed me to this:
http://www.slate.com/...omes_cinderella.html

I haven't read the books, but I saw the movie, and I can't stop thinking about it. It's not a movie you "like," but I certainly was engrossed.

The way we imagine our lives is the way we are going to go on living our lives.

- James Hillman, Healing Fiction

* * * * * * * * * *

NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967

(This post was edited by Annael on Mar 25 2012, 3:15pm)


SteveDJ
Rivendell

Mar 25 2012, 3:14pm

Post #19 of 74 (846 views)
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Olwe: please clarify - have you actually READ the books? ... [In reply to] Can't Post

Just wanted to understand where you are basing your opinion - from actual book-reading knowledge, or from reviewers' perspective?


Annael
Half-elven


Mar 25 2012, 3:33pm

Post #20 of 74 (836 views)
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??? [In reply to] Can't Post


Quote
There was a time when there was no overt or otherwise sex in stories, no gross-out violence


Evidently you have not read any Greek comedies. Or Chaucer. Or the Arthurian legends. Or Voltaire. I could go on and on. Sex in stories didn't just start with DH Lawrence, Henry Miller, and Nabokov. As for violence: Oedipus has his eyes put out, Iphigenia is sacrificed, Titus Andronicus by Shakespeare features rape & cannibalism, countless authors have detailed the horrors of war . . . again, I could go on. The Grimm brothers cleaned up the fairy tales, but they were pretty gross. The Arthurian legends are rife with sex and people being dismembered. In one story, Lancelot crosses a bridge of swords, cutting his feet and hands to pieces in the process.

I have no patience with the Golden Age mentality that thinks things were better in the past and are terrible now. As Steven Pinker has pointed out, it's a false idea. We're just more easily grossed out these days because we no longer live in the times when people went to see actual hangings and beheadings instead of movies.

The way we imagine our lives is the way we are going to go on living our lives.

- James Hillman, Healing Fiction

* * * * * * * * * *

NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967

(This post was edited by Annael on Mar 25 2012, 3:34pm)


Olwe
Rivendell

Mar 25 2012, 3:54pm

Post #21 of 74 (860 views)
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Must I? [In reply to] Can't Post

Is it dystopian near-future? Does it depict children killing each other? If yes, then it's garbage. Don't need to read it. GIGO. Garbage in, garbage out.

Why don't we demand better? As I've asked elsewhere, Where is the next Tolkien? This Collins woman certainly isn't. Sadly, I don't think we'll see anything of Tolkien's caliber, because Big Media won't allow it! Big Media panders to the masses. And if the masses are eating up HG then the masses are asses, and Big Media will pander even more, go even lower.

I have twin boys age 12. I don't want to show them garbage about how their lives will be a nightmare. HG not for children? Ha! You mean to tell me the stars of the story are teens, but it's just for grown-ups?

Someone once argued that all this Cyberpunk-dystopia crap is actually supposed to be a warning. Right, warning us to shape up or face the consequences. All right then, if this is true, then maybe we need lots of HG stories. If this is true then with maybe five more HGs we'll finally start doing something about human-caused climate change. Good. Okay. But I'll not go see the next five HGs. You can go see them.


Magpie
Immortal


Mar 25 2012, 3:59pm

Post #22 of 74 (915 views)
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agreed [In reply to] Can't Post

and the portion you quoted included (at the end)

Quote
and excellent character development


I couldn't help but think about the other movie Jennifer Lawrence has done, Winter's Bone. It had no 'overt or otherwise sex' .. no 'gross out violence' (although it most certainly did have violence that I have no doubt accurately portrayed the situation Lawrence's character faced)... and it had most excellent character development.


Quote
Annael said: I have no patience with ...

I would go a different direction than you did. Not that your direction isn't suitable to my thinking. I agree with it. But it's just what I have no patience for can't be expressed without treading too close to getting 'personal'. Or perhaps I could phrase it as "I have lost all patience..."

I am beyond 'yawn... it's the new glug'.


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Olwe
Rivendell

Mar 25 2012, 4:07pm

Post #23 of 74 (864 views)
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Relativism [In reply to] Can't Post

Ha! We got pretty far into this "discussion" before relativism reared its ugly head. Oh well.

My wife weighed in last night on this issue. She's a big Jane Austen fan. She said the great thing about Austen's characters is that they actually grow as humans -- right before your reading eyes. Sure, people might die in Austen's books -- from this or that. But violence and death are never a cheap gimmick. How about those other works you named, Annael? Was violence and death used as a cheap gimmick? Did Shakespeare ever write a piece that was meant to play on our lowest instincts right from the start? Obviously HG was. But then I'm not allowed to call S. Collins' use of death and violence cheap gimmickry? Okay. I stand corrected. Still hate it, though. Evil


Magpie
Immortal


Mar 25 2012, 5:35pm

Post #24 of 74 (849 views)
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yawn // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


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Ataahua
Superuser / Moderator


Mar 25 2012, 5:54pm

Post #25 of 74 (934 views)
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I had the same reaction to the books. [In reply to] Can't Post


In Reply To
I can't stop thinking about it.



I read the books a couple of weeks ago and I'm still thinking through the themes and the world Collins created.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauron’s master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded b*****d with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.


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