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The Hunger Games


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#61 Andrew

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 11:57 AM

I'm mostly encouraged by SDG's and Nicholas' comments. I've been debating whether to take my kids to see this (both of my boys read the first two books), and I've tentatively decided to take them, with the express condition that we discuss the film afterwards (more than the usual perfunctory 'I liked it' or 'such and such was cool' that happens when I try to engage my dear adolescent or near-adolescent young 'uns). I suspect they'll take me up on the offer; my younger son in particular has been clamoring to see this movie for weeks already.

#62 Joel Mayward

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 04:22 PM

My review, from the perspective of someone in vocational youth ministry.

#63 rjkolb

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 09:39 PM

Variety is reporting the movie is on pace for a 70M Friday. They are predicting the film will gross 140M this weekend.

#64 CrimsonLine

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 07:03 AM

Went to see this film last night. It was a 2 1/2 hour film that FELT like an 8 1/2 hour film to me. The world of the film is interesting, the heroine is great, Woody Harrelson is a lot of fun, but the two male love interests were both hunky but boring, with nothing to do in the film (especially the guy left at home - his whole role in the movie was to have expressive eyebrows). The buildup and training portion of the movie is the most interesting, but still way too long, and the Games portion was frankly dull, with pedestrian action and choppy motivations. At the climax, the movie's sort-of villain makes a speech that I couldn't understand, both verbally (muffled and garbled) and emotionally (the character was so dull, I had no idea what he could be saying).

One big thing that bugged me, the movie made a big deal about how the Tributes most needed the audience to like them, because the help of Sponsors was the difference between life and death in the Games, and then in the Game itself, Katniss receives exactly two packages, no one receives any, and both of Katniss' packages are from the same person, and HE'S NOT A SPONSOR! There is very little shown about Katniss' popularity throughout the Game, except for the brief riot in District 11 and the President's ominous glowering. If, in the buildup, they made such a big deal about popularity and sponsors, why no real payoff in the Game itself?

#65 Joel Mayward

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 09:16 AM

One big thing that bugged me, the movie made a big deal about how the Tributes most needed the audience to like them, because the help of Sponsors was the difference between life and death in the Games, and then in the Game itself, Katniss receives exactly two packages, no one receives any, and both of Katniss' packages are from the same person, and HE'S NOT A SPONSOR! There is very little shown about Katniss' popularity throughout the Game, except for the brief riot in District 11 and the President's ominous glowering. If, in the buildup, they made such a big deal about popularity and sponsors, why no real payoff in the Game itself?


The packages are not directly from Haymitch (Harrelson's character), but rather earned sponsorships from Capitol folks. There is a particular scene where Haymitch is watching Katniss on the screen after her leg injury. The following scene shows him talking with a number of Capitol folks, clearly selling them on the idea of Katniss. He's her advocate, lobbying for sponsorships. The reason no other packages are shown might be due to the focus of the film being on Katniss and her struggles; every other character is clearly secondary to her narrative arc. While the film doesn't explain this well, in the the book, sponsorships are most often given from the tribute's home district. The impoverished District 12 can't afford food for themselves, let alone a package for their tributes.


SPOILER: We see the boy from District 11 exactly one time in the arena as he avenges Rue's death, even though he is one of the final four survivors near the end. And Cato, the large antagonist from District 1, likely received numerous packages, as assumed by the amount of supplies and weaponry he carried around, even after the large supply cache was destroyed by Katniss, as well as the wealthiness of his own District. END SPOILER.

Hopefully that adds some clarity that may have been lacking in the film. Having read the book, I wondered how much my mind would fill in the blanks and holes that were left out of the film, such as the fact that the winning tribute's entire District receives extra rations of food for the next year. If someone wasn't familiar with the books at all, I wonder how the movie would fare in their perspective.

#66 Tyler

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Posted 24 March 2012 - 05:03 PM

Went to see Hunger Games this afternoon. For the most part, it was a good port of the book, although the beginning scenes in District 12 were too abbreviated, especially with Gale; it seems bizarre to give third billing to Hemsworth, when his character was onscreen for around 10 minutes. The parts of the movie that were most interesting to me were the times we get away from Katniss's perspective, since that option isn't available in the book. I did keep waiting for Seneca (the head gamemaker) to say, "Cue the sun," though.

My biggest problem with the story (book and movie both) is the inevitability of the plot. Everyone has to die, and since we don't get to know the other tributes, their deaths just feel like ways of marking time. The one exception is Rue, who might be my favorite character, even though there's hardly any of her backstory in the movie (the book has a bit more, though not really that much).

#67 CrimsonLine

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Posted 25 March 2012 - 07:17 AM


One big thing that bugged me, the movie made a big deal about how the Tributes most needed the audience to like them, because the help of Sponsors was the difference between life and death in the Games, and then in the Game itself, Katniss receives exactly two packages, no one receives any, and both of Katniss' packages are from the same person, and HE'S NOT A SPONSOR! There is very little shown about Katniss' popularity throughout the Game, except for the brief riot in District 11 and the President's ominous glowering. If, in the buildup, they made such a big deal about popularity and sponsors, why no real payoff in the Game itself?


The packages are not directly from Haymitch (Harrelson's character), but rather earned sponsorships from Capitol folks. There is a particular scene where Haymitch is watching Katniss on the screen after her leg injury. The following scene shows him talking with a number of Capitol folks, clearly selling them on the idea of Katniss. He's her advocate, lobbying for sponsorships. The reason no other packages are shown might be due to the focus of the film being on Katniss and her struggles; every other character is clearly secondary to her narrative arc. While the film doesn't explain this well, in the the book, sponsorships are most often given from the tribute's home district. The impoverished District 12 can't afford food for themselves, let alone a package for their tributes.


I was sure the books explained it, but the movie did not. Note that my quote was about the movie - the movie makes a big deal about this in the buildup (it's virtually all Woody Harrelson's character talks about, it's the reason the stylist character comes up with the costume of flames, it's said to be the one thing that really matters in the arena), and then doesn't pay it off in the Game itself.

#68 Timothy Zila

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 12:41 AM

I saw the film today and, with a few big caveats, liked it a lot more than I expected.

The main caveat: The handheld camera work and the CLOSE-UPS.

I can't think of another film that makes such annoyingly disorienting overuse of close-ups. With all due respect, what was Ross thinking? They got so much about the world - the casting, costume design, etc. - but the style employed from a directorial standpoint is really jarring.

Then there's the way the film does its best to neatly sidestep the ethical issues at stake here, although that didn't really hamper my enjoyment of the film.

As I see it, though, the film tries to have its cake and eat it too . . . it seems to (*BIG SPOILER*) make Katniss and Peeta's almost suicide into some kind of moral stance against the Capitol and the Hunger Games, but this is AFTER Collins employs virtually every means available to have her characters survive without seriously compromising their morals.

There is some, rather small, attempt to address the issue, but not nearly enough substantive discussion.

I did, however, quite like the world they created. I also think the filmmakers/Collins are pretty obviously positing the film as an alternate history (or corollary) to the Revolutionary/Seven Years War.

The question is, what if we lost?

The answer: Hunger Games.

Which is, of course, totally unfair to Britain (this is coming from someone who thinks the U.S. is as much at fault for what happened as Britain), but I still enjoyed the creativity with which the world was rendered.

#69 Timothy Zila

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 12:49 AM


This basic issue is further complicated by two moments toward the end, both involving the heroine. (Spoiler warning.) In one scene, she puts an arrow into a horribly dying opponent to ease his passing. There is also a suicide-pact theme that is more problematic in the film than I understand to be the case in the book, where I gather it’s more apparent than actual.



I get why the second situation is problematic...but I am confused as to how it is a problem to ease the suffering of a person who is about to ie. Is it really more life honoring and respectful to let the horrible person suffer more before they die? I cannot really see her action as murder if the character was dying already...


Interesting, I didn't have a problem with either of those moments.

I deviate pretty radically from the Catholic position on these matters, though . . . and this is probably not the place to discuss that.

I will say this though: How would committing suicide as a stance against an oppressive, blood-thirsty state be that much different than taking up your cross and dying at the hands of such a state?


There's obviously more at stake in the Gospels, but if you're put into a position of moral compromise what's wrong with saying: "You want one of us to kill the other? No. We'd both rather die."

Suicide and such matters are common in the Old Testaments (and not necessarily or explicitly condemned), so I wouldn't hold up current Evangelical/Catholic positions as representing, without any reasonable doubt, the 'Christian' perspective on these matters.

Edit: To be clear, I say this with absolute respect for Catholics and Evangelicals alike.

I'm not looking for a fight.

However, I do sometimes disagree with the orthodox (as of now) Christian positions on these matters.

Partially because it seem that, at least in popular dialogue, much of the debate comes down to how we should define life. For me, if we define life as something other than biological functioning and more, for example, like what John seems to be getting at in his Gospel, other positions become potentially viable.

Edited by Timothy Zila, 27 March 2012 - 12:55 AM.


#70 Tyler

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 04:52 PM

There's a weird racist backlash going on over the fact that Rue, Thresh, and Cinna are all played by dark-skinned actors in the movie. The most confusing part to me is that Rue and Thresh are clearly described as having dark skin in the book; Cinna's race isn't mention in the books.

#71 Crow

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 12:20 AM

I enjoyed the film a good bit, and I think the survivalist aspect of the games contrasted well with the opulence of the ruling class.

I was annoyed by the shaky cam and quick cutting during the action scenes. There has to be a better way to shoot these scenes to imply violence without being overly gory.

I couldn't help thinking that the fashion sense in the Capitol was influenced quite a bit by Luc Besson's film The Fifth Element.

Edited by Crow, 01 April 2012 - 12:24 AM.


#72 Tyler

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 01:06 PM

The North Carolina town that was used for District 12 in the movie is on sale.

Parts of the next movies take place in District 12, so I wonder if you could buy it now and then charge Lionsgate for shooting there

#73 Holy Moly!

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 05:42 PM

I found this film to be an extraordinarily perceptive rendering of the emotional lives of teenagers. It's sort of the best mainstream attempt I've seen of articulating the psychological abuse we heap on teenagers through ageist power structures. I loved it.

They're stuck in a system they did not create. They try to imagine life outside of these systems, but have no real agency. Class/wealth plays a big role.

Even when teenagers manage to scrape out a way of surviving, they don't control the ways their stories are told; their stories are used to reinscribe the same unjust power structures.

I love the prominence of the hand held shots--disorienting and decontextualizing in a way that made me feel younger.

#74 Attica

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 09:24 PM

I found this film to be an extraordinarily perceptive rendering of the emotional lives of teenagers. It's sort of the best mainstream attempt I've seen of articulating the psychological abuse we heap on teenagers through ageist power structures. I loved it.

They're stuck in a system they did not create. They try to imagine life outside of these systems, but have no real agency. Class/wealth plays a big role.

Even when teenagers manage to scrape out a way of surviving, they don't control the ways their stories are told; their stories are used to reinscribe the same unjust power structures.

I love the prominence of the hand held shots--disorienting and decontextualizing in a way that made me feel younger.



That's an interesting and different take on the film than I had. Not that I necessarily disagree with it. I liked the film quite a bit as well, although I thought they could have shortened up the middle part a little. I did find the "contestants" response to the opulence and fame they were put into to be quite interesting. There was a mixture of fear, with them revelling in the attention they were getting, and I wonder how true this was as to what real life responses would be in a similar situation. It's an interesting question as to the human pysche.

Edited by Attica, 09 April 2012 - 11:36 AM.


#75 Joel

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 01:36 AM

I found this film to be an extraordinarily perceptive rendering of the emotional lives of teenagers.


I forget if it was the NYT or the Book Review that did this, but I read a piece on teen dystopia fiction, with Hunger Games as the main example, that made the same argument. Totally makes sense to me.

#76 Andrew

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 10:08 AM

Yesterday's NYT had an interesting dialogue between Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott that covered similar ground to that mentioned in the last two posts.

#77 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 11:45 AM

The Huffington Post -

With some economic forecasters predicting that a full recovery may not happen until 2018, America's younger workers are witnessing their future economic infrastructure collapse around them. One could view the ritualized "killing as entertainment" of the tributes in The Hunger Games as an allegory about cashing in on the next generation's future hopes and dreams. Add our deteriorating education system to the ongoing financial hard times, and we have a perfect storm of social and economic problems that could easily tip the balance toward social unrest on a scale not seen since the late 1960s. Without a healthy economy where a more all-inclusive segment of the population can depend upon a livable wage, we all lose, since everyone lives in and depends upon the same unstable system. And the powers that be can't keep expecting people to accept an economically unbalanced system that's simply no longer sustainable.

... It's true, Harry Potter had its somber moments, but even in its most harrowing scenes it was set in a fantasy world full of wizards, witchcraft, and just the right amount of thrills and chills. In The Hunger Games, the stark images of kids dying on the field of televised battle, in a future dystopian United States where a decadent power elite rule the masses, seems a little too close for comfort. Politicians vainly scream out "class warfare" and "socialism" to fuel their followers when people rise up in protest, but a bold vision put up on screen lets our culture know what's really going on.

In the same way Orwell wrote about 1948 and titled his novel 1984, one can ask whether The Hunger Games is a reflection of our current world or a warning of horrific things to come. Is the tip-off also in the title? Aren't we all hungry for a world where innocence doesn't have to be needlessly killed off, much less where blood sport as entertainment sinks down to appeal to younger and younger audiences, becoming more real as it continues in a downward spiral? In the meantime, The Hunger Games poses the question: Is all of this the inevitable result of Winner-Take-All Capitalism?


Edited by Persiflage, 09 April 2012 - 11:45 AM.


#78 Tyler

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 02:00 PM

An interesting AV Club discussion on the necessity (or not) of backstories in dystopian fiction.

#79 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 01:33 PM

FWIW, box-office-wise, in the based-on-a-hot-teen-franchise stakes, this movie is kicking just about everybody's butt right now -- but only in North America, at least so far.

The $340 million it has earned in North America is more than any of the Twilight films (the champ so far: Eclipse, 2010, $300.5 million), and more than all but one of the Harry Potter films (only Deathly Hallows Part 2 -- the last one, the 3D one -- grossed more, earning $381 million in 2011).

However, overseas, The Hunger Games has earned "only" $194 million, which places it behind all eight Harry Potter films (the lowest earner overseas was Prisoner of Azkaban, 2004, $547.1 million) and all four of the Twilight films released to date (the lowest of which is Twilight, 2008, $199.8 million; after that, the next-lowest is Eclipse, 2010, $397.9 million).

So, globally, The Hunger Games is currently at about $535 million, which puts it behind all of the Harry Potter films and all but the first of the Twilight films (the first of which earned "only" $392.6 million globally).

Oh, and The Hunger Games is now the first film to be #1 in North America for four weeks since Avatar.

Timothy Zila wrote:
: I can't think of another film that makes such annoyingly disorienting overuse of close-ups. With all due respect, what was Ross thinking?

I'm one of those who think Ross was trying to establish an aesthetic that would "allow" him to skirt around the violence, once the games actually begin in earnest. If Ross had established an aesthetic that gave us good, clear looks at everything, then it would really stand out if he DIDN'T give us a good, clear look at the violence later on.

Incidentally, there have been some really interesting posts at HogwartsProfessor.com about this film, e.g.:

- - -

Gamesmakers Hijack Story: Capitol Wins Hunger Games Again
First thought: Lionsgate director Gary Ross (with a heavy assist from actor Donald Sutherland) hijacked the satirical edge of Hunger Games to write movie makers into the story (1) as heroes martyred to the Capitol-ists they are beholden to in order to have the money they need to make films and (2) as victims of an oligarchic government who punishes them for telling a story ‘against the grain.’ The film means something quite different from the book; it’s ultimately a different story message than the original, and, as you’d expect, it’s one much more sympathetic to Hollywood and the filmmaker’s art.
Second thought: The almost uniform delight of readers, serious and not-so-serious, with this dumbed-down adaptation that is only the narrative shadow of the novel, is evidence that they have been “hijacked,” too, by the altered story Those readers who have read the finale of the Panem Saga know that “hijacking” here doesn’t mean stealing airplanes in transit but having your minds and memories re-shaped and altered via moving screened images. Hunger Games book-fans who believe that the movie is a great adaptation as true to the original as a medium jump like this allows, I’m afraid, are, ahem, Mutt-readers whose memories of their reading experience have been scrambled and re-oriented by the powerful Capitol tracker-jacker serum of film mixed with TinselTown hype.
Watching the movie, in other words, especially watching it repeatedly, all but obliterates many readers’ former understanding, which brain washing effect of movies and television, of course, is a major point or theme of the Katniss Everdeen Saga. . . .
First Thought: The Star of this Show is Seneca Crane. Katniss who?
The first scene of the film is a Caesar Flickerman interview with Seneca Crane, the last is of President Snow who has just forced Crane tocommit suicide. A story is largely about how it is framed — and this story is about the choices and fate of the Gamesmaker, Seneca Crane.
Look for the shiny edge of your memory of the first book and ask yourself: “Real or not real?”
Not real.
Seneca Crane is not a player in the book from which this film is an adaptation. He appears only in name in Catching Fire as the late Seneca Crane and his importance lies in how Katniss uses him in her ‘art attack’ on the Gamesmakers during her Quell mock execution of same. So why did this not present figure become at least as important as the Girl on Fire whose fate he holds in his hands?
Because the Gamesmakers of Hollywood — the establishment of Hollywood directors, writers, and studios — don’t see themselves as the willing agents of the Capitol but the great artists who suffer under the boot of their patrons, the Capitol-ists and government. So the movie meaning shifts to Seneca, the director, and the evil of President Snow, rather than the hijacking power of screened images. . . .
John Granger, HogwartsProfesser.com, March 27

#80 Tyler

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 01:49 PM

First Thought: The Star of this Show is Seneca Crane. Katniss who?


Maybe that's why I confused Crane with Plutarch Heavensbee, the game maker in Catching Fire, who is more of a presence in the book.