Saturday, April 14, 2012
Move review: The Hunger Games
Gary Ross' cinematic adaptation of the Suzanne Collins novel The Hunger Games is all the rage in the theaters nowadays. With $335 million in box office receipts over the last 24 days, the film is an unmitigated success.
It's the story of a futuristic society, Panem, in which two youths from each of Panem's 12 districts must compete to the death for honor and adulation. Sort of an "American Idol" with carnage.
Did I like the flick? No. But Ross isn't aiming his arrows at me. It's a flick intended for adolescents. Girls, in particular. A fifty-year-old man is a mile wide of the targetted demographic.
There were a lot of things that bothered me about the film. I found Ross' use of slow-motion as a means of creating suspense to be amateurish and unimaginative. I was disappointed with Woody Harrelson's performance as the drunken has-been hero Haymitch Abernethy. It seemed that Harrelson just couldn't bring himself to take the role seriously. I gritted my teeth through Jennifer Lawrence's appalled gaping and over-the-top hysterics in her role as heroine Catniss Everdeen. I'm not quite sure that Donald Sutherlin (as President Snow) ever did wake up as he delivered his lines. And I cringed to see Lenny Kravitz reduced to a meaningless bit part in a teeny-bop chick flick. (He was Cinna --a PR guy, not to be confused with the conspirator from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.)
But, as I said, this flick wasn't aimed at me. I'm not supposed to "get it."
Hunger Games is a paean to youth. And why not? Who isn't attracted to youth? Not just because young people are physically beautiful, but because of their innocence and idealism. We're a youth-obsessed society.
So here's my beef with the film. It makes no attempt to challenge its intended audience. The film doesn't give young people enough credit. Hunger Games doesn't so much celebrate youth's nobility as it plays to its least attractive qualities: narcissism, sullenness, and an insufferable sense of martyrdom.