Second Opinion – The Hunger Games (2012)

The Hunger Games, 2012.

Directed by Gary Ross.
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Hemsworth, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland and Woody Harrelson.


A teenage girl must compete in The Hunger Games – a televised event where ‘Tributes’ must fight to the death.

This is a film review, not a book review. I’ve not read any of The Hunger Games novels and, moreover, I have absolutely no interest in reading them now that I’ve seen the film. If they are as average as this, I’ll stay far away.

It’s been three days since I saw The Hunger Games and it has fallen drastically in my opinion of it. Upon reflection there is nothing new here; the main story is a cross between The Running Man and Battle Royale, the love story is as unbelievable as anything you’ll see all year, and the costume and set design is straight out of The Fifth Element. For a brand new film it looks like it was made 15 years ago and the shockingly bad visual effects only prove to evidence this.

At nearly two and a half hours, the film is needlessly long and its attempts to be an ‘epic’ are all part of its downfall. With the exception of the lead character, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), not one of the cast is in the least bit believable and in a film where we are supposed to care about children killing children for live television broadcast, this is a major flaw. There are supposed to be 24 children who take part in the ‘games’ but none of them are given any background or detail, nor do we see any of them die unless Katniss is involved.

Furthermore, the reason why the ‘games’ even exists is either A) never explained or B) so poorly written it passed me by. At least with The Running Man we know it’s supposed to be criminals playing the game and that makes perfect sense (in the world of the film) but here we never find out. Why isn’t it the adults or the elderly, or the under 10s? In a dystopian world, the viewer deserves and should demand to know why the world they’re watching is like it is and why the rules are now in place. Imagine if Minority Report didn’t take the time to explain who the Pre-cogs are, or if in Logan’s Run the age limit rule was just passed over. It would be unacceptable.

The film does not work as a satire on government or reality TV and once the children enter the ‘games’ the fact that it is televised is barely mentioned and the need for sponsors, so emphasised in the first act, is rendered pointless in favour for straight-to-video standard CGI and underwhelming set pieces. And what is with the three finger salutes that is obviously supposed to be so significant? Unless you’ve read the book I can’t imagine how anyone would work it out.

The one saving grace and the sole reason you keep watching is the performance by Jennifer Lawrence. She has a real screen presence about her and conveys both the fear and strength you’d need if this situation were real. It’s just a shame nothing else about the film gives the same levels of commitment as Lawrence. The film isn’t a disaster in the way in which the Transformers or Pirates series are and is in no way offensive, but just because it’s more intelligent than Twilight does not mean it’s beyond criticism.

With the third biggest opening of all time at the US box office, the other two parts of the trilogy will undoubtedly be filmed as soon as possible. They may well be an improvement on this underwhelming first instalment, but I won’t be there to see if that’s true.

Flickering Myth Rating: Film ** / Movie **

Rohan Morbey – follow me on Twitter.

Around the Web

  • Donald

    Woah. Did I even watch the same movie as you did? Because the Hunger Games I saw was about an authoritary Capitol preventing rebellion in the 12 districts by having Hunger Games each year, to remind the districts of just how powerless they are against the Capitol. In the middle of this, a girls volunteers for the Games in the place of her sister and ends up accidentally acting as a symbol of

  • ladybugz613

    ***SPOILER ALERT***<br /><br />One of the dangers of a movie being based on a book is that you can lose a lot of detail. Although the movie starts out with a written explanation of why the games are conducted each year (to remind the districts that the capitol is all powerful and as a warning to never attempt an uprising again), you do lose the importance of the symbolization of the Mockingjay,

  • simon.moore100

    When all the supporting evidence for a film amounts to &#39;you should read the books&#39;, you know you&#39;re standing on shaky ground. Rohan&#39;s right; we already have Battle Royale and The Running Man covering the same story. There&#39;s no point quoting and re-stating plot points. It&#39;s like Christians trying to convert Atheists by reciting passages from the Bible at them. It just doesn

  • farmer12

    Obviously you have no taste in movie!! The Hunger Games was an amazing movie and Jennifer wasn&#39;t the only one who was great for their part Josh Hutcherson was perfect to him and Peeta have a lot in common!

  • Gaineristheman

    I agree that this needs to stop being compared to battle royale. I understand that people don&#39;t like how all of the tributes deaths are not shown but that is exactly how the book is. It&#39;s all from katniss&#39; point of view which is why we don&#39;t see the other deaths. With saying that, I can understand how someone who hasn&#39;t read the books wouldn&#39;t like it. Coming from someone

  • Good to see my review has prompted lots of comments! All good points, thanks all for reading. The last time a review had so much feedback it was Transformers 3! Keep them coming…

  • Shad

    Wow, this review is so good, I love the intentional misspelling of &quot;installment&quot;. At least we know your spelling is almost as good as you&#39;re taste in movies. Anyway, sarcasm aside. I don&#39;t know WHAT you were doing while you were supposedly watching this movie. The movie actually says the reason behind the Games SEVERAL times, it&#39;s actually mentioned in the very beginning. If

  • International misspelling of &quot;installment&quot;..? I think you mean international spelling, and seeing as we&#39;re an &#39;international&#39; (ie British) site, the spelling is correct. So sadly your sarcasm is misplaced.

  • Can people stop going on about the source material? Even if the film were a perfect remake of the book, it doesn&#39;t mean it&#39;s a flawless film! Even though I haven&#39;t read the novel, I think it&#39;s safe to assume The Hunger Games is not The Catcher In The Rye, Hamlet, or A Christmas Carol or any other work of literary genius.<br /><br />Remember – no film should ever assume its

  • Liam Hemsworth

    Catcher in the rye is a sorry excuse for a work of literary genius. <br /><br />Also, the word is &quot;intentional,&quot; not international.<br /><br />Lastly, Jennifer Lawrence was absolutely wonderful in the film, yet I enjoyed the film as a whole. She was so good that she drew me in for a second viewing! It was just as great second time around! <br /><br />Maybe what you need is another

  • Craneniki

    I think this review makes some good points. But, like others, I have read the book so all the blanks were automatically filled for me. But I can see how a lot of these points have a good standing. But I think that is just a reason to read the books! I&#39;m not eying to be mean and I hope my words aren&#39;t taken this way. I just don&#39;t think this was completely fair. It was a good movie as

  • This is what we need – constructive criticism of reviews, not &#39;read the book&#39; or debates on literature. Well done, Craneniki.

  • David

    As Donald (and others) already said, Rohan would have done well to actually pay attention during the movie. The reason for the games was covered quite well, from the video shown to the kids at the beginning to the discussions between the President and the guy in red. (No, I haven&#39;t read the book, either.)<br /><br />As for the movie doing things that other movies have done? *Gasp* Say it