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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Movie Review: The Hunger Games

When you review movies, sometimes things are complicated. What you like others might not be interested in and view as you do.
In this case, that didn't happen.
The Hunger Games has it all. It was entertaining, intelligent, well written and acted, directed and photographed to perfection and has something for just about anybody.
There is nothing complicated about any of that.

The Hunger Games is a movie that lives up to the huge hype that surrounds it. Is it a great movie? No, it is not. But it is very, very good.

I give it 4 stars out of 5. I rarely give out 5, and this movie did not reach that level.

Even if this isn't your genre, I urge you to go see it.  

The concept is a great one, and they max out every ounce of it. Most of us are intrigued with a society where the rich and powerful use the weak and the poor for their own amusement and advancement. This is nothing new. The Romans did it. The Egyptians did it. Every facet of the Western world either does it or did it. We can all relate to many aspects and characters in this movie. That is the foundation that the movie, and the coming series is based on.

Yes, Jennifer Lawrence is mega hot.
Jennifer Lawrence plays the lead character, Katniss, and although a relative newcomer, she is topnotch and looks to be a big time star for years to come. She plays the character to perfection and has that likability factor that audiences flock to.  She just seems real down home even though she is stunning, and that will serve her well for years to come. I look forward to seeing her work as the years go by, similar to how I will see just about anything that Meryl Streep is in. She may not be of Streep's quality, but almost no one is. She is as close as it comes.

But she can also act.
Lawrence's performances so far have prompted Rolling Stone to define her as "the most talented young actress in America."

-from Wikipedia

Josh Hutcherson as Peeta

Josh Hutcherson as the male lead, Peeta, is okay, but he clearly lacks the power and talent on screen that Lawrence does. It is hard to watch them act together, when one is so much more talented than the other. Possibly this was a casting mistake, and if this role had been cast to a better actor, the movie may have gotten a 5 star rating from me.

Woody Harrelson has gone from this...

Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy was very hard to take at first, but he grew on you and fits well into the scheme of the movie. The rebel, drunk and defiant character he always seems to play is getting tiresome though. He might want to try a different direction. His act is wearing thin at this point.

To this.
Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman is simply fabulous. I have always been a big fan of his work, and once again, his talent rises to the top. Unlike Harrelson, he seems to be able to play any character, in any way and makes sure he does not get typecast.

Donald Sutherland as President Coriolanus Snow is always, but not asked to do that much in this film. I thought his role could have been expanded to the benefit of the film, but this movie is aimed at a younger generation and Sutherland is old. His playing of understated power has always worked well, and he does that to perfection again in this limited role. Lets hope as the conflict builds in future films he gets to do more with a bigger role.

Really though, this movie is about plot and cinema,  not individual performances, and it delivered fully on that promise. The writing, photography, scenery and direction cannot be faulted.

Here is my take on the ultimate message of the film:

I don't know if many would agree with this, but my take is that the powers that be want to pit the masses against each other. As long as they don't unite and are focused on fighting each other for the scraps, they won't rally together to realize they are being manipulated and raped by the controllers. The day the masses unite and fight is the only day the powers will get nervous that the jig is up. Sadly, most are so focused on beating the other guy to get their share, they don't realize they are fighting over a very small piece.

Unity is the only way to equalize power. Once the lead characters decide to unite rather than fight each other, the power swings in their favor. That is the foundation the series will rest on as it goes forward.
It will be interesting in the next 3 parts of the series if they focus on that. I have not read any of the books, so I have no idea what direction they are going to go, but that is what I would do and what I look forward to seeing. They set that up with the ending, and now lets see if they capitalize on that.


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