Film Festival Today

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Film Review: “The Hunger Games”

Written by: FFT Webmaster | March 26th, 2012

**OUT OF 4

Director Gary Ross (“Sea Biscuit”, “Pleasantville”) fumbles in this somewhat mediocre dystopian tale of a coming- of- age teenage survivalist in a fight-to-the-death nationally televised game show. Evert year for the past 74, to remind people of its limitless power, a neo-Nazi style government holds a lottery, selecting two children per district to participate in a murderous ritual — the Hunger Games of the title — that will be televised to the masses, complete with opening ceremonies and beauty-pageant-style interviews with a blue-haired version of American Idol’s host– Ryan Seacrest (Stanley Tucci).

Adapted from Suzanne Collins’ best selling trilogy, this first iteration of what will certain to be a billion dollar franchise will satiate fans and make Lionsgate a more formidable player in the oligarchial motion picture industry.

Created for teenagers, those among us who are older, with deeper film history, have seen versions of this tale in “Battle Royale”, “Spartacus”, “The Most Dangerous Game”, or “The Running Man”.  The focus is on a character with the odd name of Katniss Everdeen played “pitch perfect” by Jennifer Lawrence (“Winter’s Bone”).  Katniss’s struggle to maintain humility, humanity and courage while growing up in a brutally savage environment keep us engaged even though the script is a clumsy one which at times grinds to a halt in its overly lengthy two hours and twenty-two minutes.

Ross utilizes “intensified continuity” in his mise en scene rather poorly.  The action sequences are replete with too many free-ranging camera shots and rapid editing.  The attempt to create excitement fails about half of the time.  The violence which is the whole point of this crass and senseless game must be toned down to meet the rigid standards of a PG-13 cut which the studio insisted upon. So we are delivered painless murders and a film that teenage audiences will flock to like “lemmings to the sea”. At least Lionsgate had enough decency to avoid a cheap after-the-post 3D version, but, seeing this in Imax is a joke.

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