A Hunger for Entertainment

Dystopia. It is a word that I have learnt its meaning only recently in my researches regarding literary works. I often turn on my laptop and surf the net finding titles of books that pique my interest and the Hunger Games was definitely one of them.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins falls into the dystopian category for its setting in a rather bleak and fallen civilization. I watched it on the big screen yesterday evening, and note that while I will attempt to review the movie, in the loosest sense of the term since most of my attempts at objectivity to turn out to have a slight hint of emotional attachment, I have yet to read the Hunger Games trilogy and so cannot give a comparison between the written works and movies.

The story begins rather ominously with a simple, blankly black screen with fading words that foretell the history behind the fantasized nation's current state and the creation of the spectacle that is the hunger Games. Suddenly we are thrust into a district that is nestled away in some niche among the forests, reminiscent of times of war and hardship where people work hard to meet there needs, being thrown into a state of depravity that it's obvious everyone is struggling to keep themselves clean or fed.

The cinematography in this movie is spectacular. Though some might find some scenes to be too drawn out, that's the way things are more likely to play out in real life. In silence, as the character is in deep thought. It's not like real life has its own background music now does it? The hallucination scene was a real treat. The stop and start choppiness of the transitions, the breaks in sound (which I initially thought was a malfunction in the theater's sound system) gives a very good interpretation of what dwindling mental state is like. The scene where the coal-mine blew up, presumably with Katniss' father in it and the drowned out screams of Katniss at her catatonic mother had a powerful effect that made my eyes water. It was moving, and gave insight the reason why Katniss is as hardened and stoic as she is. The riveting soundtrack and use of effects also added depth to the experience.

Speaking of the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, what I like about the characters is that they're well thought out, complex but not dynamically so, consistent in their demeanor and way of doing things. She's lean, strikingly beautiful (though oblivious to that fact) and in hard times knows how to handle things, such as hunt with a bow. She remains pretty cold and guarded for the first half of the movie, embracing her 'I don't make friends easily' self and coming off as slightly bad-ass.

Then there's Peeta Mellark, the second half of District 12's star-crossed lovers, was a bit of a cliche though to be honest, the distant lover who has crushed on the main character for so long, it seems to have turned into an undying and unconditional love. He is rather the underdog, being the weaker of the pair, but he does have hidden skills like massive upper body strength and camoflage.

I'd prefer to see more of Gale though, his almost brotherly relationship with Katniss is something I'd like to see. The love triangle between them and Peeta will surely spark some drama in the coming sequels. Building up to the premiere, I've seen that many of the original books fans weren't that happy with casting. Again, I have not read the books so I cannot compare the movie versions to the ones described in the books, but I think Jennifer Lawrence looks stunning. The dark hair suits her, and her features to give a sort of deadly beauty look. Though I'm not sure about Josh Hutcherson. He did some decent acting, but I just don't like his hair blond. I swear, in some scenes I kept on wondering where HIS EYEBROWS went.

On that note of outward appearances, the opening parade that introduced the Tributes to the Capitol, was a spectacular show. The make-up and costume department certainly had a lot to work with, if they build off what Suzanne Collins had written in her books. The exaggeration of pop culture in the Capitol residents' hair and make-up gave the whole world a comical and other-worldly feel. The costumes during the parade were just as exagerrated, but admitedly so to give District 12 a chance to shine. It is a good stroke of luck though that Peeta and Katniss managed to end up with nice team of the well-tasted Cinna and the experienced though eccentric and drunk Haymitch as mentor. The use of fire, earning her the title of "The Girl on Fire", as their main selling-point was really inspired.

Fire is hot and eerily beautiful in a way. It can be made, but then go beyond your control. You can use it to your advantages, or it can be used to hurt you. It symbolizes blazing spirits, fiery tempers and power. It's a force of nature and has the BBC's Sherlock once said, "exposes our priorities".

Plot-wise, the climax of a fight to death lets us question that side of our humanity: what lengths will we go to for some 'entertainment'? Like the citizens of Panem's Capitol, do we hunger for entertainment like they do?

It's true that while in real-life we do not pit ourselves against the other to kill each other off, we still do some pretty inhumane things because we find them funny. Take bullying for example. We ridicule someone, bring them down, in more extreme cases, use physical violence, make a spectacle out of a another person's weakness and laugh at such a thing. Then of course there's the obvious pro-wrestling, which thankfully I haven't seen much on air these past few years. And we do all these things for what? Entertainment? A quick buck?

If our current paradigms do not shift, who's not to say that our civilization won't end up as barbaric as the one in the Hunger Games?

Just some food for thought. Another thing plot-wise, I couldn't help but find Katniss and Peeta's love to be very cheesy and well, fake. Again, haven't read the books for reference, but I theorize that it was all just a ploy to get out of the Games alive. Haymitch did say that he could sell the whole 'star-crossed' lover bit, and maybe they used it in their favor. Though in a way, that is a double-edged sword, seeing how Katniss is sort of obligated to keep her charade, assuming Peeta is oblivious to her acting and his feelings are actually real. Then there's the whole Gale thing.

Overall I'd give the movie a good 4 stars out of 5, my only complaint is that the main theme and plot is a bit cliched, but it does appeal to a broader, younger demographic.

Well, I guess that my first review. Though I doubt I've written anything assembling to one, since I am, gently-put, opinionated and tend to drone on and on than anyone would care to read. Maybe I should think of a proper template to review upon, the clear aspects I want to talk about such as Cinematography, Set and Costume Design, Soundtrack, Characters, Plot, etc. (Well, lookie, I guess I just did).

That's all for now. Hope you have a good life and are at least a little bit entertained by my writings here on this blog. Thanks for taking the time to read. 'Till the next post then.

And may the odds be ever in your favor. ;)

--Karin Novelia, Happy-Go-Lucky Cinema-Goer


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