the hunger games

I saw The Hunger Games this weekend.  I did not read the book prior to seeing the film, but here’s the short of what it’s about.  Jennifer Lawrence plays Katniss who’s from the mining District 12.  Ever year each district sends a boy and a girl to the Hunger Games where they battle it out and whomever is left standing at the end is the winner.

The good; for knowing nothing about this world, they did a great job in creating it and making it believable.  It’s a future world where a terrible war/event ravaged the people and to maintain unity/obedience among the survivors they created the hunger games, which take place every year.  And there’s this wonderful tone and atmosphere around the lottery where the kids get picked at random, almost like a draft, some foreboding spectre that hovered and consumed all those kids.  Just well executed.

*SPOILER* when we get to the capital city… Capitol you can tell the difference in wealth and how displaced it is among the districts.  The color palate changes once we’re in Capitol, not just in the sky and the buildings, but in the clothes.  It worked very well for me. *END SPOILER*

The movie runs about two hours and twenty minutes, at no point during the movie did I feel like looking at my watch, this movie utilized its time well and I appreciate it for that.  When you’re able to engage me for that amount of time and have me solely focused on the film, that’s an achievement.

The bad; I hated the beginning in District 12, the movie opens with useless hand held shots.  Lock the tripod down, it’s the beginning of the film, I want to soak in the ordinary world, let me look around and see what’s going on and how it’s going on.  Why is it that they chose the documentary style??  Totally unnecessary.

I have this beef with most films, and how they cover action sequences… give me a medium or a wide shot.  Would it kill you do pull out just a little?  I want to see and understand how they’re fighting, if I had that I would appreciate the why of their fighting all that much more.   It seems today that all action has to be covered by someone who’s fighting there with them… I don’t want that.  Especially in the climactic moments of the fight, I want the frame to breathe.  A good example of something done well is the climax of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly…,
and I’m sure there are discrepancies with the book, but I don’t know them yet… so yeah.  Those are my big two gripes.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this film.  The emotional beats were placed right and they built up to them.  When characters die you feel for them, that’s good movie making and great story telling.  The film garnered $153 million opening weekend, and $20 million from midnight sales alone… if you don’t believe my opinion of the movie, take a look at the numbers.
Another thing I enjoyed about this movie is that it made me want to read the novel, anything that makes you want to read afterwards can’t be bad, those entities are few and far between these days…

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