Friday, April 13, 2012

The Hunger Games

Seriously, it was either this or a Hungry, Hungry Hippos joke.

So, I know it's late, but I finally got to see the Hunger Games.

For those not familiar with the story, it involves a girl who has won the affections of two men, one a vampire and the other a werewolf. The hunger referred to in the title is a reference of the hunger for blood that the vampire constantly feels around her, as well as the hungry rage inside of the werewolf and the girl's hunger to fulfill the desire to be saved and be married and a good wife.

Okay. Actually, it's not that at all. Though considering the love triangle and the targeted teen audience, it very easily could have been. But let's all thank the director for not shitting all over the story and going in that direction.

Instead we have a story about a strong female lead, who risks herself in a sacrifice to protect her younger sister from the violent games which are held to amuse the powerful and keep the underclass in line. The games themselves are an allegory about a bloodlusting society and fruitless wars mixed with over-commercialization to the point where everything is done for the show and sponsors give aid to popular "characters" who are fighting for their life.

Honestly, I was a bit worried when I first started hearing about the movie because it came with an unexpected wave of popularity that made me leery of what might come from it. I read the book when it first came out and enjoyed it, but never read past the first one. However, with the surge of popularity that made it seem like the movie was destined for Nickelodeon Teen Choice award slimings and MTV Best Kiss awards, I didn't have my hopes up.

However, they ended up with a movie that ended up being rather solid. It covers the themes of the book well enough and even decides to build them subtlety. For example, the connection and relationship between Gale and Katniss wasn't slammed over our heads. Ultimately, this is good, as it leads us away from a more direct comparison to the Twilight series and being on Team Peeta and Team Gale. Also Haymitch's character was built a little more subtlety as well. I mean, it was obvious that he was a drunk at first, but as he became inspired by Katniss, there was no big obvious scenes in which he openly declares that he isn't getting drunk. Instead, there is just a subtle raising of his hand to stop a glass from being refilled. It's actually rather refreshing since most movies hammer in points over your head and think that the audience is stupid.

The movie portrays brutal violence of children against children, though for the most part it is not directly shown or glorified. I mean, it isn't exactly the level in which Toys masked violent scenes, but the only scene that really "glorified" it was one in which the announcers were wistfully reminiscing about former Games. This is, of course, to make a point. However, the violence is a bit less "controversial" than it could have been. For the most part, it is the older children committing it against the younger. But it still treads the water to test it for next year's upcoming "Ender's Game".

But anyhow, blah, blah, blah. Salient points and meaningful messages aside, the movie looked pretty. While the excess and luxury of the Capitol isn't how it is portrayed in the book, I actually think I rather like this interpretation of it better. The book had the excesses of the Capitol depicted as tattoos and body alterations so that some people were essentially cat people. Instead, I rather like the break from the more typical sci-fi approach and the presentation of the Capitol's excesses being a sort of old French Pompadour approach. It still portrayed the differences between the sparse and meager means of the outlying Districts and the Capital, but did so in an interesting visual way.

 On the whole, I don't have many negatives to say about the movie. The ending is a bit abrupt and things are just sort of over. But overall, the movie is a solid adaptation of the book and quite enjoyable. Perhaps not quite worthy of the level of hype that it has, but then again, I'd rather a character like Katniss, whose choices are deep and powerful, have it over a character like Bella, whose choices are essentially which monster she'd rather wait until she was married to fuck.

Molly: (As usual, Molly is sitting next to me as I type this. Because of her age, her portion of the review will be in a Q&A form. I'll ask her a question and transcribe her responses to the best of my ability and format it afterward.)

Chuckie: So, what did you think about the Hunger Games?
Molly: I liked it.

Chuckie: What did you like about it?
Molly: Since it was--since I never watched it and since I like surprises like that.

Chuckie: What was surprising about the movie then?
Molly: Well, since I never watched it and I didn't know what it was like, except for some parts that I watched in a commercial. Except the part where they got ready to fight, I watched that on a commercial so that didn't surprise me at all.
Chuckie: Yes, but what did--
Molly: I was expecting it, Daddy.

Chuckie: Okay, fair enough. But what did you like about the movie itself besides the surprise factor?
Molly: Um, since, um, that girl who was being mean before started being nice to people and had friends.
Chuckie: Wait, did we see the same movie? Who are you talking about?
Molly: Katniss.
Chuckie: Oh. Okay. I guess that's fitting. So, the movie was all about Katniss learning to be nicer to make more friends?
Molly: Yes, instead of being mean and lonely.

Chuckie: What about all of the people that died though?
Molly: That part was sad. But that happens, Daddy. And she still made new friends.

Chuckie: Okay, so who were her new friends in the movie?
Molly: Um, I don't know their names. There was the girl who was little who had black hair...
Chuckie: Rue?
Molly: Yeah. And the boy who... um, I have nothing to explain him. But the boy who helped her and they helped each other.
Chuckie: Peeta?
Molly: Yeah.

Chuckie: So, all of the tributes and fighting and killing for bloodsport and for show was all just backdrop for Katniss learning to be a nicer person and make new friends?
Molly: And to teach the other people.
Chuckie: Teach them what?
Molly: To be nice.
Chuckie: Pixie, you do realize that everyone was trying to kill everyone else, right?
Molly: Yes. But only good friends won, so it was best to try to learn how to make good friends.

Chuckie: Okay. So, tell me what happened in the movie?
Molly: Um, they taught a lesson to the other people. Since they were teaching a lesson, well, a bad lesson, to fight back at other people. Like let's say like if my cat scratched me and I fought back at her, so I would like punch her and it's like you're in that place where like, like, like you try and win. Like, it's like, well, the audience watched and, well, it gets harder and harder and well, they try and win and, well, like the people try to fight each other. So, um, that's what it's kind of like.

Chuckie: Um. Wow.
Molly: I'd punch Opoly, since you don't like Opoly.
Chuckie: Thanks for that, Pixie. I'm not sure if that exactly answers what happened in the movie though.
Molly: Oh. Um. They helped each other. Do you know when I said that she... um... nevermind. Um, she helped people when they got hurt.

Chuckie: Okay. True. But did she fight?
Molly: Um, actually, I don't think so. Wait! She shot one person with a bow and arrow.

Chuckie: Okay. So, why was it that everyone was gathered together there to fight one another?
Molly: Wait. Like on those stools?
Chuckie: Mm-hm.
Molly: Since then it would, like, so they could see what the places were, so they could look around and see what to do and they would gather up the people so then they could think that it would get harder and that that group could like gather up so that they could make friends and have a plan.

Chuckie: Okay. Wow. I really think we both approached this movie from a different interpretation of the message.
Molly: Oh, Daddy, and I know another part!
Chuckie: What?
Molly: Um, since the other people that were like... the camera people, I think... they made it harder for them so that almost all of them could die.

Chuckie: Yes, that's true. Why did the camera men do that though?
Molly: So then, like, there could only be one champion.

Chuckie: Yes, that's true too. But why were the camera men trying to make it so that more of them would die? Do you know why they were doing all of that fighting?
Molly: Um, I don't know what you mean.
Chuckie: Do you think that the camera men were trying to put on a show to appease the bloodlust and show the power of the capitol while still beating down the districts with only the sliver of hope as a possible reward?
Molly: Um, maybe?

Chuckie: Do you think that the message of youth fighting to satisfy a power and blood hungry populace is really just an allegory to modern aspects of fruitless war?
Molly: Um, fruit? What does fruit need to do with this?
Chuckie: Um, fruitless. In this case war that bears no reward.
Molly: What does bears need to do with this?
Chuckie: Um. Bears. In this case war that has no reward.
Molly: Yeah. A little bit.

Chuckie: Okay, so, how would you rate this movie?
Molly: Um. Stars.

Chuckie: Okay. How many stars would you give this movie?
Molly: Um, two.
Chuckie: Out of how many?
Molly: Out of three.

Chuckie: That's it? Just stars this time?
Molly: No, I also want to give it a reward.
Chuckie: What kind of reward?
Molly: Um, a gold one. Wait, what color is gold?
Chuckie: It's, uh, kind of gold.
Molly: Okay.
Chuckie: So what kind of gold reward are giving the movie?
Molly: Two hundred.
Chuckie: Two hundred what exactly?
Molly: Two hundred and one.
Chuckie: But two hundred and one what?
Molly: Rewards.
Chuckie: Okay. Is that out of something?
Molly: No.
Chuckie: It just gets two out of three stars and two hundred and one rewards?
Molly: Gold rewards.

Chuckie: Okay. So, who do you think would like this movie?
Molly: Um, let's see. Edison, Grandmom and Pop Pop. Grammy and Pappy. Mike. And Kat. And Craig and Lindsey. Maybe their baby would, but I don't know. It might cry when the little girl got killed because it's just a baby.

Chuckie: I meant more of an age group or demographic.
Molly: Then Isaac and Jo. And Mommy and you as well. And me.

Chuckie: Fine. Why do you think they would like it?
Molly: Since it's like a movie for that age.
Chuckie: Your range runs from premature newborn to grandparents in their sixties, Sweetie.
Molly: They'd still like it.

Chuckie: Pixie, were you sad when the little girl with the back hair, Rue, died? I thought that you were crying then.
Molly: I wasn't crying.
Chuckie: You were wiping your eyes.
Molly: That's because I hadn't blinked since the movie started and so that's why I had some tears in there.

Chuckie: Fair enough, Sweetie. Is there anything else that you'd like to say about the movie?
Molly: If people watch the movie people will learn that if you fight with somebody, they'd probably fight back, so it's better to be nice to people instead.

So, that's our review. I'm still not quite sure that Molly saw the same movie as I did, but she still seemed to enjoy it. She was also surprisingly not bored throughout the movie, which does take a bit of time to set up some of the pace and plot at points. And apparently the death of Rue wasn't quite as sad as the death of the Ewok in Return of the Jedi.

I liked the movie. Having read the book first, I thought that I would have been more upset at the changes or omissions that were in the movie, but honestly, it was a solid enough translation for me. I suppose the hounds were a bit disappointing. In the book, they had an emotional impact as well by carrying the DNA of the dead tributes in them. However, in the movie, they were just generic wild dogs. But overall, I have little complaints about the movie and while it still feels just a little light of being epic, it is still a good watch. And, truth be told, I wouldn't mind watching it again just to see the who introduction of the "Girl on Fire" sequence again. It was really good watching.

Molly gives it two out of three stars and two hundred and one gold rewards. She viewed the movie, not as an allegory to societal collapse for a culture who bathes in reality television and has grown apathetic toward the outrage of sending our youth to pointless wars, but rather as a primer on why it is important to be nice and make friends.

I wish I was five again.