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Film review: Lawrence elevates already solid 'Hunger Games'

News From Bree
spymaster@theonering.net

Mar 24 2012, 6:27pm


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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)

Subject User Time
Film review: Lawrence elevates already solid 'Hunger Games' News From Bree Send a private message to News From Bree Mar 24 2012, 6:27pm
    WWJRRD? Olwe Send a private message to Olwe Mar 25 2012, 2:02am
        I'm not sure I've seen much evidence that Tolkien got 'incensed' by anything Magpie Send a private message to Magpie Mar 25 2012, 2:40am
            I have my theories. . . . Olwe Send a private message to Olwe Mar 25 2012, 3:39am
                My two cents. TolkienOtaku Send a private message to TolkienOtaku Mar 25 2012, 5:08am
                    if anyone wants to know imin Send a private message to imin Mar 25 2012, 9:12am
            Oh, he was incensed, all right Sunflower Send a private message to Sunflower Mar 26 2012, 12:07am
            He was pretty annoyed by the way Disney did fairy tales. Aunt Dora Baggins Send a private message to Aunt Dora Baggins Mar 26 2012, 4:39am
        So the savagery of Tolkien's orcs, ringwraiths and Sauron pales by comparison, then. Tintallė Send a private message to Tintallė Mar 25 2012, 1:14pm
            No connection? Olwe Send a private message to Olwe Mar 25 2012, 2:26pm
                ??? Annael Send a private message to Annael Mar 25 2012, 3:33pm
                    agreed Magpie Send a private message to Magpie Mar 25 2012, 3:59pm
                    Relativism Olwe Send a private message to Olwe Mar 25 2012, 4:07pm
                        yawn // Magpie Send a private message to Magpie Mar 25 2012, 5:35pm
                        nice feint Annael Send a private message to Annael Mar 25 2012, 6:52pm
                        Oh my goodness, yes Laerasėa Send a private message to Laerasėa Mar 27 2012, 9:03pm
                            Rather far afield. . . . Olwe Send a private message to Olwe Mar 28 2012, 1:03am
                                Not exactly Laerasėa Send a private message to Laerasėa Mar 28 2012, 1:25am
                                    Again, relativism Olwe Send a private message to Olwe Mar 28 2012, 2:20am
                                        The Silmarillion Sunflower Send a private message to Sunflower Mar 28 2012, 5:09pm
                                            Sorry, one and all Olwe Send a private message to Olwe Mar 28 2012, 11:06pm
                                                Well, what have you read? Otaku-sempai Send a private message to Otaku-sempai Mar 29 2012, 1:17pm
                                                    Fantasy as escapism? Olwe Send a private message to Olwe Mar 29 2012, 1:59pm
                                                "I guess it comes down to me yelling at you people to stay on the true path. " Magpie Send a private message to Magpie Mar 29 2012, 2:02pm
                                                    *mods up* Annael Send a private message to Annael Mar 29 2012, 3:58pm
                                                        Yup, me too! I am my rebel Scot ancestors' heir in the attitude department. Eowyn of Penns Woods Send a private message to Eowyn of Penns Woods Mar 29 2012, 10:31pm
                                                            And as for me- Sunflower Send a private message to Sunflower Mar 30 2012, 12:53am
                                                            *high-fives EoPW* Annael Send a private message to Annael Mar 30 2012, 1:11am
                                        I thought you hadn't read it Annael Send a private message to Annael Mar 28 2012, 9:49pm
        Olwe: please clarify - have you actually READ the books? ... SteveDJ Send a private message to SteveDJ Mar 25 2012, 3:14pm
            Must I? Olwe Send a private message to Olwe Mar 25 2012, 3:54pm
                You admit that you have not read the book, nor intend to. dernwyn Send a private message to dernwyn Mar 25 2012, 7:07pm
                    I know so many people who refuse to read LOTR Annael Send a private message to Annael Mar 25 2012, 9:05pm
                    *Raises hand* "No interest in this sort of thing". Aunt Dora Baggins Send a private message to Aunt Dora Baggins Mar 26 2012, 4:42am
                intriguing (SPOILER ALERT for HUNGER GAMES) Annael Send a private message to Annael Mar 25 2012, 9:18pm
                    Well... Sunflower Send a private message to Sunflower Mar 26 2012, 12:33am
    I saw Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone Magpie Send a private message to Magpie Mar 25 2012, 2:12am
        I heartily second that! Tintallė Send a private message to Tintallė Mar 25 2012, 12:45pm
    Question estelien Send a private message to estelien Mar 25 2012, 2:13am
        Ending SaltedPork Send a private message to SaltedPork Mar 25 2012, 2:30am
        *book spoilers* Laerasėa Send a private message to Laerasėa Mar 29 2012, 4:09pm
    Makes sense SirDennisC Send a private message to SirDennisC Mar 25 2012, 2:31am
        Thanks SirDennis! {NT} MrCere Send a private message to MrCere Mar 25 2012, 9:36pm
    Thank you Nightingale Send a private message to Nightingale Mar 25 2012, 12:21pm
    It was horrible aranelthehobbit22 Send a private message to aranelthehobbit22 Mar 25 2012, 2:01pm
    Just been to see it imin Send a private message to imin Mar 25 2012, 3:05pm
    Loved the overall film, but HATED the jarring camera-work... SteveDJ Send a private message to SteveDJ Mar 25 2012, 3:09pm
        Me too (SPOILER) Sunflower Send a private message to Sunflower Mar 26 2012, 12:58am
            Mission Accomplished? Olwe Send a private message to Olwe Mar 26 2012, 3:12am
                A great movie can begin with a horrifying premise... Otaku-sempai Send a private message to Otaku-sempai Mar 26 2012, 3:44pm
        I may be in the minority here, but Marillė by the Sea Send a private message to Marillė by the Sea Mar 26 2012, 8:25pm
        It annoyed me too...(*spoiler*) Laerasėa Send a private message to Laerasėa Mar 29 2012, 4:15pm
            After two viewings, I'm sure they are missing... (spoilers, still) SteveDJ Send a private message to SteveDJ Mar 30 2012, 4:38pm
    another thought-provoking review Annael Send a private message to Annael Mar 25 2012, 3:13pm
        I had the same reaction to the books. Ataahua Send a private message to Ataahua Mar 25 2012, 5:54pm
            And I think... Sunflower Send a private message to Sunflower Mar 26 2012, 12:43am
    Loved the books, loved the film Old Toby Send a private message to Old Toby Mar 26 2012, 5:49pm
        Serious spoilers in the above post!! // Arwen's daughter Send a private message to Arwen's daughter Mar 26 2012, 5:54pm
            thank for the reminder! Old Toby Send a private message to Old Toby Mar 26 2012, 6:02pm
        You said everything I wanted to say about the movie, but better!!// Marillė by the Sea Send a private message to Marillė by the Sea Mar 26 2012, 8:27pm
        Do you know Ataahua Send a private message to Ataahua Mar 26 2012, 8:29pm
            As far as I know (which may not be very far!) they're only filming #2 right now Old Toby Send a private message to Old Toby Mar 26 2012, 10:15pm
                I didn't... (trilogy spoilers) Sunflower Send a private message to Sunflower Mar 27 2012, 5:37am
                    Er... it is "hope", not "love" SteveDJ Send a private message to SteveDJ Mar 27 2012, 3:51pm
                    To affect as many people as possible. Ataahua Send a private message to Ataahua Mar 27 2012, 5:50pm
            Next film isn't due until... SteveDJ Send a private message to SteveDJ Mar 27 2012, 3:54pm
                Oops. Sunflower Send a private message to Sunflower Mar 28 2012, 5:14pm
                    Actually no, love is very different from hope SteveDJ Send a private message to SteveDJ Mar 30 2012, 4:53pm
            This is what is said in Wikipedia Marillė by the Sea Send a private message to Marillė by the Sea Mar 27 2012, 11:01pm
                Yes, Ataahua Send a private message to Ataahua Mar 27 2012, 11:34pm
                Thanks Marillė for the info **Spoilers** Old Toby Send a private message to Old Toby Mar 29 2012, 3:51pm
    A reminder to please keep posts to the discussion topic. Ataahua Send a private message to Ataahua Mar 26 2012, 6:42pm
        Point taken... Otaku-sempai Send a private message to Otaku-sempai Mar 26 2012, 7:02pm
    It could have been a lot better Allanon Mar 28 2012, 6:04pm

 
 
 

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