The short version:
Well, that was a waste of $1.20 and two hours of my life.
The long version:
I’m aware that millions of people watched this movie, and many millions more have probably read the books. I have not read the books, despite several family members recommending them to me. I generally trust my family’s opinion on books, but I’m just not a fan of anything set in the future. Dystopian plots leave me cold. So do books written in present tense. Perhaps it’s a personal failing. If I had planned to read the books before seeing the movie, I definitely will never read them now.
On Friday night, my friendly Redbox kiosk enticed me to pay $1.20 for the privilege of watching this movie. I have rarely been so bored, and then, so angry. I ended up fast-forwarding huge chunks of the movie because (a) nothing happened and (b) it looked like shit and (c) nothing happened.
I do not understand why people like this movie. Here is a short list of reasons why:
1. This movie has no soul.
Seriously. Children killing each other should move me to a reaction. I’m not made of stone. Sometimes even commercials for greeting cards can make me cry. I’m an easy mark. I felt a twinge when the little black girl died, but other than that, everything was stark and devoid of emotion. Note to filmmakers: if you want people to root for a character, you have to give her a soul. As written in the movie, the character of Katniss had no soul. She was hard and cold and too cool for school. This is not the way to help me bond with a character. Not enough vulnerability. Also, for some reason, Jennifer Lawrence’s dark hair and stone face reminded me of Katherine Heigl in One for the Money. This is probably not a good thing.
The problem is that even when addressing super-dark topics, like kids killing kids, you need a pinch of humor. This movie didn’t have that. It completely failed to see that a pinch of humor humanizes the situation and makes the characters seem less robotic. Everything was serious to the nth degree and this failing ended up sinking the movie.
2. The characters all looked like they were either an extra for Schindler’s List or an extra for a cracked-out episode of the ’60s Batman show.
Seriously. Explain to me how the main character’s family can live in the same world as the blue-haired announcer guy. These are two different planets. Does not compute.
3. Complete lack of believability or explanation for why anyone seemed to think it was okay that these games are billed as an exercise in patriotism.
Maybe this is explained better in the book. It was not explained in the movie. But just a thought….anything called “the hunger games” can in no way be celebrated as a patriotic exercise, not even halfway seriously, with the feeble explanation that it has been done this way for 75 years. This requires at least half the country to have lost its mind. Yet some characters who participate willingly (the Woody Harrelson character) seems to have something of a conscience. I am confused. I cannot suspend my disbelief. This is just plain stupid.
4. If anyone said that “odds in your favor” phrase one more time, I was going to poke holes in my eardrum with a fork.
5. Clothes made with fire? Really? Could these have looked any more fake? Could this be any stupider or less believable? People in the capital area can make clothes with fire, but everyone in the districts look like they belong in an Andrew Wyeth painting?
6. Less than believable love story. Really, people? Smart-ass Katniss sets booby traps and avoids being killed for an hour or so in the forest, then falls in love with Peeta (I can’t type that name with a straight face) because the stupid announcement from the game controllers basically tells her to? Again, complete lack of character development or reasonability.
7. Those pit bull things at the end. WTF? Why not throw Predator in there, too? That’ll really fuck some shit up. Again, you want me to believe that this stuff is technologically possible while the rest of the country looks like a backdrop for American Gothic? A lot more explanation is needed for this to be remotely believable.
8. The rampant lack of creativity. Maybe this is a fault of the book, but it’s basically Lord of the Flies meets “The Most Dangerous Game” meets Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.” I have seen every element of this before and didn’t really like them the first time.
9. One-dimensional characters all around. Everyone is evil or there to fulfill a super-obvious purpose (younger sister cowering in fear = older sister making heroic sacrifice; zoned-out mother = main character had to be a mother and a sister). And I won’t even talk about the characters played by Lenny Kravitz (stunt casting, anyone?), Woody Harrelson, and Elizabeth Banks.
10. The theme seems confused about what it wants to tell us. Are we supposed to believe the government is evil for having these games in the first place? Are we supposed to believe the advertisers and sponsors are evil because they participate and don’t care who dies? Why don’t the people revolt? Can’t they replace the mineral makeup of the city dwellers with good old-fashioned lead makeup or something? Nothing about the government seems invincible, which makes the oppression of the people seem forced. Again, maybe the book covers this, but the movie doesn’t do anything to help make this situation seem reasonable.
I could go on. But I’m tired of typing. Tired of thinking about that stupid movie. It doesn’t deserve this much of anyone’s energy.
May the force be with you.