Eh. Sigh. Blah. I am so ehsighblahed by this movie, I am finding it difficult to write about. Certainly not bad enough to relentlessly make fun of (but some parts I have to…I must…there really is no choice), but also not good enough to have any level of excitement for having seen it. It is a 3.0 donut movie that does not evoke anger for having seen it, but also does not provide a great deal of satisfaction. Wait…no…maybe it does evoke anger…I will rant about parts of it to be sure.
First, I was “lucky” enough to be able to see this at a prescreening. I had the fortuity to simulate what an actual official paid reviewer might feel like. I then missed the deadline by a week. Ah well. You win some, you lose some, you train some monkeys, or however the saying goes. Everything was going great, free popcorn, free pop, with my Dad and sis, and then the movie started.
I really do not know what I was expecting. Maybe if I had thought it through beforehand, I could have seen certain disasters coming and mitigated it with my inherent willingness to find ways to love and forgive movies (I am Catholic…that’s what we are about…love and forgiveness…even to movies). But this movie felt…really, really felt like a reality show mixed with those touching human interest segments they have on the Olympics. The ones that show how so-an-so endured great hardships in his life, overcame such-and-such adversity, rose to the pinnacle of the sport in the US, and then we get to see that the person is in 14th place or something.
Of course, the element that is supposed to intrigue viewers is that the reality competition involves a fight to the death for two dozen participants all aged between twelve and eighteen. Sigh. Even this concept was weak. Really? This random selection process allows the age limit to be as low as twelve? What idiotic game organizers. So, that one time when twenty-two of the participants happen to be twelve or thirteen, untrained and weak, are pitted against the two mega trained volunteer participants from district one would work great. It would probably result in a good twenty minutes of TV footage, when they have a multiple day time slot. The rationale is so faulty, it is painful. Supposing a world could get sick and twisted enough to watch this kind of program, they certainly would demand and expect a competitive game, like any sporting event. No one wants a blowout.
I suppose the comparison will be made to the gladiator games in Rome…which makes no sense. It was a different time then. It was a time where countries did not invade other countries under the guise of terrorism, worldwide safety, economic stability, freedom, or religion. The leaders simply wanted to increase their territories so they attacked weaker neighbors. And their people loved them for it. Unless there is a complete collapse of a civilization taking things back to the stone age (not just industrial, but evolutionary brain-wise), the ability for people to root and watch children die just would not happen (or it’s possible I just can’t or won’t fathom it). No matter what those territories had done. It would be like our society happily watching innocent children of another country that has wronged us die. I do not think we can regress back to that point.
And I guess this is along the line of my problem with the movie. It is a hypothetical future, but there is too much stupidity. Apparently, by design, all of the people of the future are ugly or try to look ugly. Right. “Dave, you’re missing the point! They are ugly to you, but in the future, the concepts of beauty will change and they actually are beautiful! You get it?” Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb. What an unnecessary thing to play with in this movie! What’s the point other than to stray further from a possibly future normal society? Do we need that in a movie where children kill each other on TV for entertainment? I think we get it. This future is messed up. Too many of these elements destroy any chance at falling for the movie illusion. It is different for the sake of being different, not to add anything. Blah.
I also hate reality shows, by the way. This did not help things. So, I get to see the nice long reality TV show setup of the contestants and the garbage announcing and garbage TV setups (sure, it might be poking at reality shows, but to do that, I still had to watch one). I cannot watch “Survivor” or The “Bachelor”, and those shows are relatively harmless, though still sometimes point out the drudge of society. How am I to garnish any level of excitement to this more thorough degradation of society?
The movie focuses on a girl from district 12 (the last district) and, to a lesser extent, the male that also goes (has to be one male and one female). Her route there is touching and certainly a commendable start to the movie.
Once in the big city, there are two weeks of training for the contestants, but I’m still not sure what exactly they improved upon in these sessions. There is this classic moment where one boy’s skills at cake decorating (OMG! Infuriatingly dumb) come into play in the training.
We have a mentor that doesn’t seem to do much other than give a few tips that could have been put on an index card, yet the girl ends up acting eternally grateful to him.
There is this concept of “sponsors” and how important it is to have a good image so that people will sponsor them and help them in the game. For how little this concept was used combined with how crazy-stupid it came to fruition in the game, the whole idea seemed…well…crazy-stupid. It could have been a decent idea.
Maybe some of these ideas were fleshed out better in the book, but in the movie they seemed haphazardly thrown in, as if the ideas themselves were good enough.
In the arena they missed a glorious opportunity to use the line: “I’m…a….cake…happy…birthday…to…me”. I would have forgiven nearly all of the sins of this movie if that had happened.
Some of the action sequences were pretty cool. Some were pretty stupid. Hard not to give away parts, but put yourself in the shoes of a messed up person watching something like this in the future. Would you want the show producers to interfere to try to kill any of the contestants? There are two parts where this happens. The second one is an equal opportunity interference that was acceptable. The first time was focused on one person that certainly had mass audience appeal, and that is dumb, dumb, dumb.
There was also a dramatic element as we learn about the heroine’s life, her mother, father and sister. We see her with her boyfriend. We see her in a messed up love triangle of sorts. We see that she is a great gal, even though she has some anti-social tendencies. Eh. The parts that were touching were offset with the parts that failed to the point of being comical.
There is the coordinator of the event, who afterward gets in trouble…and I am not entirely sure why. I can only imagine the ratings for this year’s hunger games were probably the best ever. Confusing.
The acting was fine. The stupid shaky-cam action sequences annoyed me.
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