Film review: The Hunger Games

posted at 8:00 am on March 24, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

The Hunger Games takes audiences to a future, decades after an apocalyptic war, where the North American continent consists of one nation, Panem, run by a dictatorial regime in the Capitol.  The rest of Panem consists of twelve districts, exploited by the wealthy and indolent ruling class in the Capitol, which both intimidates the districts and entertains them through the annual Hunger Games, a Survivor-type reality show that takes one boy and girl from each district and forces them to kill each other, until only one “tribute” is left alive.  Katniss Everdeen saves her younger sister chosen in the lottery for District 12 by volunteering, after which she and her friend Peeta get whisked to the Capitol for a couple of weeks of training, high-class living, and media saturation.  When the games begin, will the odds be with Katniss and Peeta?

The film comes from a popular young-adult novel of the same name by Suzanne Collins, but if you haven’t read it (I have not), you’ll still be familiar with the story, because it’s so derivative it’s hard to know exactly where to start the comparisons.  There are elements that remind one of “The Lottery,” the famous short story by Shirley Jackson, films like The Running Man and Rollerball,  perhaps a dash of The Handmaid’s Tale and a bit of The Truman Show, and almost every post-apocalyptic dystopian fantasy ever filmed or even contemplated. The people in the districts come straight out of The Grapes of Wrath and Matewan, while the Capitol looks more like a more lively version of the Eternals in Zardoz, whose wealth is only exceeded by their garish and conspicuous consumption, and equally exploitative consumption of the “tributes” who will play in the games.  (Elizabeth Banks’ Effie Trinket looks like she was airlifted from a Tim Burton shoot.)  The obvious Roman gladiatorial references get even more heavy-handed treatment with the names of the characters in the Capitol, like Caesar, Claudius, Octavia, Flavius, and so on.  The tributes even have to learn to kowtow to the wealthy in order to gain patrons that might assist them during the course of the games, which makes the exploitation about as subtle as a sledgehammer.

It takes a long time to develop the story, while at the same time providing little coherent explanation of what exactly all of this means.  The motivation for the deadly Olympiad is explained as a reminder not to rebel, but the idea of randomly killing the children of serfs for the sport of the obscenely rich doesn’t sound like a convincing way to keep a population under control.  It takes forever to get past all of the incoherent back story to get to the game itself, where Katniss’ backwoods upbringing comes in handy for her survival.  The game is bloody and violent, although most of the violence (with a couple of exceptions) is blurred and quick-cut, presumably to preserve the PG-13 rating.

Watching teenagers and children kill each other (at least one looks to be about eight or nine years old) prompts the question of why children and teenagers would get chosen for this in the first place by a dictatorial regime, other than the author’s need to write a book for young adults.  I’m sure it’s meant as an allegory for war as well as class exploitation, but it’s both ridiculous and grotesque. Given that The Hunger Games provides us nothing about almost all of the other 22 children in the games, it feels like they get treated by the film much the same way they get treated by the ruling class — as cannon fodder for their own purposes. The end of the film feels very anticlimatic, with a last-minute twist one could see coming a mile off, and from which the story almost immediately retreats anyway.  Nothing changes as a result of the events in the movie, not even character growth.  It literally feels like a complete waste of time when the credits roll.

The cast does a good job overall with what they’re given, but Donald Sutherland and Wes Bentley are wasted in their parts.  Stanley Tucci has fun in his over-the-top portrayal as the emcee Caesar Flickerman, while Woody Harrelson has less fun with the more substantial role of Haymitch,  former Hunger Games survivor and the assigned “mentor” to Katniss and Peeta.  The movie rests on the shoulders of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, but she’s not terribly compelling or interesting.  Lawrence doesn’t display much emotional range, offering the same steely-eyed glare for most of the film. The cinematography makes extensive use of the modern shaky-camera and ultra-close-up “documentary” techniques that supposedly gives a film a realistic look, but mainly drives people up the wall.

The audience with whom I saw this was largely composed of teenagers, and they seemed to enjoy the film a lot more than I did, so take that into consideration.  It’s rated PG-13, which surprised me a little with the occasionally graphic violence in the film.  It’s far too intense for children, but teenagers would probably handle it with little difficulty.  The odds may be with them to find this enjoyable, but anyone older will have seen all of this before, and done better.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2 3

I’m sure I’ll stir up a hornets nest, but here goes…

Christians and the Hunger Games
Discusses the premise of the books and movie, focusing on the strawman morality view being offered. An interesting read.

And of course, the socialists LOVE the movie

dominigan on March 24, 2012 at 12:16 PM

You may know this, but it’s already in production: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1731141/

eforhan on March 24, 2012 at 12:01 PM

With Harrison Ford as Graff and Ben Kingley as Mackham. Gah.

njrob on March 24, 2012 at 12:17 PM

The rational was nothing could show dominance more then making conquered groups sacrifice their most precious goods, their children.

rob verdi on March 24, 2012 at 9:20 AM

Agreed. The book was outstanding. I thought the movie suffered because they tried to directly transpose as many events as they could cram into 90 minutes while losing the essence of the books.

I got a strong anti-authoritarian feel from the books. And the idea of “The Hunger Games” doesn’t feel so forced when you read it on paper. The conquered districts are kept in bondage, only given what they need to survive from the all-powerful government. With that kind of hopeless dependence and divided population centers, it makes sense that the people would just hope their children would never have to be sacrificed rather than rebel against the only means of their survival.

JDF123 on March 24, 2012 at 12:04 PM

In one of the books they talk about how most of the people are too weak and malnourished to fight back against the Capital. They survive on very little food. They have no weapons (though Katniss does have a bow that she used to hunt but has to hide it away from home). The people of each district also have no contact with other districts. They are kept completely isolated from each other. Nearly everything is a “crime”. Speaking out against the Capital, hunting, going outside the perimeter of your district. After reading the books, it was pretty easy to see “how” this happened generation after generation.

JennM111 on March 24, 2012 at 12:31 PM

Thumbed through he paperback at my local bookstore, reminded of many other books and movies, put it back in the rack, yawn, someone wake me when we’re on to the next book/movie sensation …

stukinIL4now on March 24, 2012 at 12:44 PM

SLIDERS- Episode 24 “The Rules of the Game“!

profitsbeard on March 24, 2012 at 10:07 AM

Sliders was a great show. Though I think their version of the Lottery is appropriate for this discussion. Season 1, Episode 9 Luck of the Draw.

njrob on March 24, 2012 at 11:34 AM

Seasons 1-3 of Sliders is available at Hulu.com. There’s no charge, but you’ll have to watch a few commercials.

Gladtobehere on March 24, 2012 at 12:49 PM

My 14-year-old saw the movie last night and was “meh.” Didn’t like Jennifer Lawrence, hated Woody Harrelson. Said it was an OK movie of you haven’t read the books, but there was way too much left out of the book and some key elements changed. Pretty much the same reaction her older brother had to the Harry Potter movies. I didn’t understand that until I read the HP books.

rockmom on March 24, 2012 at 12:51 PM

It definitely sounds like something was lost in translation, which is unfortunately all too common with movie interpretations of books.

Yes, the story line itself is rather derivative. But Collins does a good job of capturing the dystopian feel of Panem, and the main characters are definitely sympathetic. And the anti-authoritarian vibe is a core element of the series. Once you get into the third book, you realize that the “good guys”, by whom Katniss is recruited to help fight the insurgency, are really no better than the enemy.

Donald Sutherland is probably under-used only because the president is not a central figure in the first book. He takes on a larger role in the second and third books, but is still not a huge “on screen” player. He’s more of a foil, I would say, to Katniss. Her bette noire, in a way. The power that he holds over Panem, and the corruption at his core, is really larger than life, and probably forces him into more of a meta-role than he really could be as an actual character.

I’m still planning on seeing the movie. I just read the series recently, and really enjoyed it. I’m actually quite interested in how well the game itself translates to the big screen. The concept of the arena, if done right, could be intriguing.

I don’t get Woody Harrelson as Haymitch. But I’ve never really been a big Harrelson fan, though, so that is just me. Enjoyed him in 2012, but he otherwise comes across as too one-dimensional to be worth the effort.

nukemhill on March 24, 2012 at 12:52 PM

Watching teenagers and children kill each other (at least one looks to be about eight or nine years old) prompts the question of why children and teenagers would get chosen for this in the first place by a dictatorial regime, other than the author’s need to write a book for young adults. I’m sure it’s meant as an allegory for war as well as class exploitation, but it’s both ridiculous and grotesque.

Yet the Socialist Nazis accomplished the same thing by loading people onto trains. People like George Soros loaded them up happily. And sent them off be executed in any number of grotesque ways.

Socialism leads to fascism. Fascism leads to the ridiculous and grotesque.

faraway on March 24, 2012 at 12:55 PM

The first pages of the Hunger Games mentions how its illegal for anyone to own weapons, or hunt, or speak freely, or any thing else for that matter. And the book also emphasis how district 13 was completely destroyed during the last rebellion, and the Games are the Capitol’s continuing reminder that they control their lives to the extreme of murdering your children for entertainment.

You wonder why there was no rebellion for almost 75 years…

timbok on March 24, 2012 at 12:55 PM

I’ll tell you what–I got chills watching the trailer. I’ve never seen it before. I know trailers are notoriously bad at capturing the essence of a movie, but it certainly captures the essence of the book.

I’m not surprised that the teens cheered the movie, if it’s anything like what the trailer portrays. Chilling.

nukemhill on March 24, 2012 at 12:55 PM

Derivative. That’s all I needed to know.

John the Libertarian on March 24, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Watching teenagers and children kill each other (at least one looks to be about eight or nine years old) prompts the question of why children and teenagers would get chosen for this in the first place by a dictatorial regime

Sort of like bum fights, but with slightly less manual dexterity and a LOT more exploitation.

Pass.

logis on March 24, 2012 at 1:08 PM

It’s rated PG-13, which surprised me a little with the occasionally graphic violence in the film.

Because (according to pluggedin.com) it’s not full of swearing & sexual situations, which is a pleasant surprise.
itsnotaboutme on March 24, 2012 at 8:33 AM

American stupidity at it’s worse. Graphic violence? Hoo yah!

Someone having an orgasm or showing a nipple? Heaven forbid. And let Congress investigate while we’re at it.

Society needs more orgasms and visible nipples and less violence.

Mitchell Heisman on March 24, 2012 at 1:10 PM

Yet the Socialist Nazis accomplished the same thing by loading people onto trains. People like George Soros loaded them up happily. And sent them off be executed in any number of grotesque ways.
Socialism leads to fascism. Fascism leads to the ridiculous and grotesque.
faraway on March 24, 2012 at 12:55 PM

People like Hot Air’s most “conservative” religious fundamentalist commenters happily stoned people … forget in Taliban days, one can simply go back to the recorded history of their own religions.

But they have a lo more in common with the Iranian theocrats than they do with modern libertarians and so on. But they don’t realize it.

Different religions do they see the them as enemies, without understanding how much their innate personalities have in common.

Mitchell Heisman on March 24, 2012 at 1:15 PM

For example, the movie doesn’t explain that Peeta burned loaves of bread on purpose, knowing he’d take a beating from his mother, to give them to the girl he’d loved since the age of five – who was on the point of starving to death. Nor does it explain that his televised confession of a crush on her was a deliberate strategy to help keep the two of them alive until there was no one left, at which point he planned to sacrifice himself so she could go home.

mrsknightley on March 24, 2012 at 10:32 AM

Okay, that’s pathetic. I may not see the movie then. I hate it when a movie leaves out essential parts of a book it’s based on. In my other example earlier of LOTR, I had the misfortune of reading the book(s) after watching the movies. Ugh. Why, oh why wasn’t it clear that Galadriel was the grandmother of Arwen? It would have made so much more sense. And don’t even get me started on all the Orc over the top garbage.

TeaTrekkie on March 24, 2012 at 1:16 PM

As an almost thirty-year old (yikes!) who read the books and loved them, I really enjoyed the movie. Obviously with a movie you’re never going to get the same depth as in a novel; there were bits that were tweaked and I might not have made some of those tweaks. On the other hand, there are things the movie actually does better than the novel which was restricted, in a way, by having it be solely from the main character’s viewpoint. I thought the music and cinematography were both quite lovely, as well, and I liked the way the character relationships were portrayed. It was all faithful without being slavishly so (see: the first Harry Potter movie).

I’m a little perplexed by the haters and their “omg that’s just like ______” attitude. Haven’t we as society long ago figured out that there really are no original ideas? These days I’m happy if something isn’t a remake of an 80s TV show, or a board game, or another movie, or a schmaltzy retelling of a fairy tale.

salmonczar on March 24, 2012 at 1:18 PM

You may know this, but it’s already in production: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1731141/

eforhan on March 24, 2012 at 12:01 PM

With Harrison Ford as Graff and Ben Kingley as Mackham. Gah.

njrob on March 24, 2012 at 12:17 PM

Oh great, another one of my favorite books gets ruined by Hollywood. And could somebody please tell Harrison Ford that his career was effectively over ten years ago?

Shadow on March 24, 2012 at 1:21 PM

The ultimate anti-capitalist retard flick.

Step One: Threaten to commit genocide unless children agree to murder one another.

Step Two: …?

Step Three: PROFIT!

logis on March 24, 2012 at 1:34 PM

I’m at a loss to know why this review is necessary. If you haven’t read the book, for one thing, then it goes without saying that you are missing significant critical details to provide any substantive input. Furthermore, I’m at a loss to figure why anyone would come HERE to get a review for the Hunger Games.

This movie is aimed at 10-17 year olds who almost all have read the exceptionally successful and popular books. Why is it anyone at Hotair would think their opinion about such a topic was either necessary or desired ?

I’m confused.

deadrody on March 24, 2012 at 1:38 PM

It sounds like an amalgamation of several early Star Trek eps. You left out Soylent Green and Logan’s Run. They say that Suzanne Collins is a great writer. She’d have to be to make this dreck interesting.

flataffect on March 24, 2012 at 1:42 PM

The ultimate anti-capitalist retard flick.

Step One: Threaten to commit genocide unless children agree to murder one another.

Step Two: …?

Step Three: PROFIT!

logis on March 24, 2012 at 1:34 PM

It is very pro-capitalist and very anti-statist. There is no profit, merely exploitation of the earners by the parasitic elitist non-earners. No different than typical communist tactics throughout its horrible history.

ray on March 24, 2012 at 1:46 PM

I’ve actually read the book (haven’t seen the movie) but every one of Ed’s criticisms of the movie pretty much applies to the book except for the criticism about the acting of Jennifer Lawrence because that is basically how the character Katniss is written (and I bet it is even more dull to read a character who’s not very compelling or interesting than it is to watch one).

Just FYI — in the book, the children eligible for the lottery are supposed to be between the ages of 12 and 18 (no reason given for that rationale in the book, either) and one tribute from District 11 (Rue) is 12 but is said to look younger because she is so small. I’ve seen a picture of the actress playing that part & I think she is the one Ed says looks 8.

And don’t worry about Donald Sutherland and Wes Bentley — their roles aren’t large in The Hunger Games, but they have more import in the next 2 books (Catching Fire and Mockingjay) and I’m sure movie versions of those 2 are already in the works.

Dark Star on March 24, 2012 at 1:51 PM

I’m at a loss to know why this review is necessary. If you haven’t read the book, for one thing, then it goes without saying that you are missing significant critical details to provide any substantive input. Furthermore, I’m at a loss to figure why anyone would come HERE to get a review for the Hunger Games.

This movie is aimed at 10-17 year olds who almost all have read the exceptionally successful and popular books. Why is it anyone at Hotair would think their opinion about such a topic was either necessary or desired ?

I’m confused.

deadrody on March 24, 2012 at 1:38 PM

You are familiar with the concept that 10-17 year old children have parents, right? And parents typically decide to what their children should or should not be exposed. So it’s good if adults actually find out what their children may be watching and influenced by before their children see it.

Try that.

njrob on March 24, 2012 at 1:52 PM

I am not a teenager, but I loved the books and think the movie was amazing. Even though I knew what would happen in the movie, it still was incredibly suspensful. It was well directed (although too much shaky-camera effet in the first scene for my taste) and very well acted.

LASue on March 24, 2012 at 1:53 PM

Society needs more orgasms and visible nipples …

Mitchell Heisman on March 24, 2012 at 1:10 PM

I say start them in third grade!

eforhan on March 24, 2012 at 1:54 PM

njrob on March 24, 2012 at 12:17 PM

Shadow on March 24, 2012 at 1:21 PM

Sorry to break the bad news to you!

I don’t think I’ve read Ender’s Game, even though I’d heard of it. I guess it’s time!

eforhan on March 24, 2012 at 1:57 PM

I’m at a loss to know why this review is necessary. If you haven’t read the book, for one thing, then it goes without saying that you are missing significant critical details to provide any substantive input. Furthermore, I’m at a loss to figure why anyone would come HERE to get a review for the Hunger Games.

This movie is aimed at 10-17 year olds who almost all have read the exceptionally successful and popular books. Why is it anyone at Hotair would think their opinion about such a topic was either necessary or desired ?

I’m confused.

deadrody on March 24, 2012 at 1:38 PM

First off, it isn’t necessary to have read the book to review a movie. Many people enjoyed The Natural for example but anyone who read the book knew the whole ending was changed. Could the movie have been reviewed as to its merits as a movie? It could and it was. Very few moviesa are faithful to the books. And movies need to stand on their own to attract a wide audience.
As for the books and movie being meant for a teenage audience, apparently many posters here have read and seen it and are certainly not teenagers. Many movies that we would consider for children are made to appeal to a wider audience. A good example are the one liners and character development in many of the “meant for children” movies like Shrek, Madagascar, etc. In this case I assume its the concept of the government dictatorship and the development of the history of the downtrodden. Underdogs always have a broad appeal.

Deanna on March 24, 2012 at 1:57 PM

While post-apocalyptic films have been among my favorite

Speaking of. Just finished The Passage. Good..Anyone read it?

bluealice on March 24, 2012 at 2:08 PM

Sorry to break the bad news to you!

I don’t think I’ve read Ender’s Game, even though I’d heard of it. I guess it’s time!

eforhan on March 24, 2012 at 1:57 PM

Since it’s teen scifi it’s a quick read. It’s typically considered one of the best scifi books ever written and by far Card’s best work. The sequels leave something to be desired.

As a stand alone, I’d highly recommend it. From beginning to end the book has excellent pacing and climaxes perfectly.

The only other book that remotely compares to it that Card has written is Ender’s Shadow which is basically the same book written from the perspective of the character Bean. It’s a good book and if someone’s enjoyed Ender’s Game, but hasn’t read Shadow, I’d recommend doing so.

njrob on March 24, 2012 at 2:20 PM

I’m at a loss to know why this review is necessary. If you haven’t read the book, for one thing, then it goes without saying that you are missing significant critical details to provide any substantive input. Furthermore, I’m at a loss to figure why anyone would come HERE to get a review for the Hunger Games.

This movie is aimed at 10-17 year olds who almost all have read the exceptionally successful and popular books. Why is it anyone at Hotair would think their opinion about such a topic was either necessary or desired ?

I’m confused.

deadrody on March 24, 2012 at 1:38 PM

There is so much wrong with this statement. Let’s go sentence by sentence:

1. To paraphrase Tina Turner, what’s “necessary” got to do with it? Ed, one of the mods at this site, does review movies from time to time. Whether you think that is necessary or not is irrelevant and not a valid criticism of his decision to write a review unless & until you have editorial authority of this site.

2. A movie must stand on its own. If you have to read a book to understand critical details (your words) in a movie, then the movie is an extremely poor adaptation of the book & the producers shouldn’t have wasted the money making it.

3. Again, your loss at understanding why anyone would come here to read a review is irrelevant.

4. While it is true the book is aimed at Young Adults, it has been one of those YA books that has crossed over to Adults as well, so you have no point here (although I’m sure you think you do).

5. Again, the fact that a book is successful does not mean the movie based on the book is any good (see point 2). Additionally, “successful and popular” does not equal “good” or else the Twilight books would be on par with War and Peace. I realize that concept is foreign to most in today’s American Idol society, but it is still true.

6. Of course you’re confused. That’s been evident since your first sentence.

Dark Star on March 24, 2012 at 2:40 PM

makes extensive use of the modern shaky-camera

The review just has to say that. Now I know I’m not going.

pedestrian on March 24, 2012 at 2:49 PM

I stopped reading book 1 about 30 pages in. There’s no coherent world building here, and without that, the story is just dull unless you’re into teen romance.

evergreen on March 24, 2012 at 2:51 PM

The cast does a good job overall with what they’re given, but Donald Sutherland and Wes Bentley are wasted in their parts.

There – fixed it.

By the way – I have read the Books and The Hunger Game Books are the MOST Anti-Obama Cultural Meme OUT THERE!

These books PREACH against the Crony Capitalism and Marxism of Obama’s Administration. The storyline WITHIN the Books is reminiscent of the storyline in Philip K. Dick’s “Man In The High Castle” with the internal book “The Grasshopper Lies Heavy”.

This is some of the BEST Anti-Obama Hollywood Stuff to EVER come along – and Ed and Company should be GRABBING HOLD of that and RUNNING with that Meme – it’s something to celebrate.

But – Ed and Company are too busy being Obama’s BEST Press Agents!

williamg on March 24, 2012 at 2:56 PM

In one of the books they talk about how most of the people are too weak and malnourished to fight back against the Capital. They survive on very little food. They have no weapons (though Katniss does have a bow that she used to hunt but has to hide it away from home). The people of each district also have no contact with other districts. They are kept completely isolated from each other. Nearly everything is a “crime”. Speaking out against the Capital, hunting, going outside the perimeter of your district. After reading the books, it was pretty easy to see “how” this happened generation after generation.

JennM111 on March 24, 2012 at 12:31 PM

Look at history and you see that the response of people under threat of starvation is not passive acceptance. There is no better tinder for rebellion.

I and other people are hard on the lack of world coherence because the characters themselves are so dull.

evergreen on March 24, 2012 at 3:04 PM

The movie I’m waiting for is Iron Sky

Who doesn’t love Nazi’s on the moon?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xeIu1FiTTyI&feature=related

Wallythedog on March 24, 2012 at 3:11 PM

The ultimate anti-capitalist retard flick.

Step One: Threaten to commit genocide unless children agree to murder one another.

Step Two: …?

Step Three: PROFIT!

logis on March 24, 2012 at 1:34 PM

You are either so blinded by Bush Hatred that you can’t see the point – or you’re just flat-out LYING.

These Books are THE MOST Anti-Marxist, Anti-Obama, Anti-Statist Cultural Memes Out THERE!!

I’ve read them – Obama would HATE the ideas they espouse!

williamg on March 24, 2012 at 3:29 PM

You are either so blinded by Bush Hatred that you can’t see the point – or you’re just flat-out LYING.

These Books are THE MOST Anti-Marxist, Anti-Obama, Anti-Statist Cultural Memes Out THERE!!

I’ve read them – Obama would HATE the ideas they espouse!

williamg on March 24, 2012 at 3:29 PM

williamg is correct about this. The regime of the Capital in The Hunger Games is more akin to the USSR communist regime or a socialist regime, where the people in the government (the elite) get rich & fat by keeping the people in the 12 districts dependent on the government for food (all the resources in the 12 districts, like the coal mined in district 12, belongs to the government, it isn’t sold in any kind of free market enterprise – in exchange the government gives the people in the district enough grain, oil, etc. to live on — this is not a supply & demand system, this is a welfare or “workfare” system; even in the lottery itself, family’s can choose to enter their child’s name more than once in order to receive more grain that year) and also by suppressing speech & taking away weapons (under the watch of “Peacekeepers” who are Gestapo-like and with neighbors informing on neighbors). This is much more what Obama is trying to do in the country (keep us plebes dependent & feeding on the government teet) by destroying the capitalism.
However, williamg is wrong that Iogis is lying — Iogis, like many on the Left, doesn’t have the critical thinking skills to understand the themes in the book (or even understand the difference between capitalism & socialism) & blindly believes what the elites in the Left tell him. TPTB on the Left have decided to sell the book as anti-capitalist & Iogis buys it hook, line & sinker.

Dark Star on March 24, 2012 at 3:46 PM

Oh, Ed. Usually you impress. Not this time.

Honestly – just read the book.

I won’t comment on the movie because I haven’t seen it (there’s a hint in there for you).

But this story derivative? Only as much as any and all and every story told is derivative of another. Calling a story derivative is always an intellectual cop-out. They’re all derivative.

The book is frankly extraordinary. And I read it as a 40 year old infantry officer sitting in Iraq, not from the perspective of a hormone-addled teenager.

I challenge you: read the book. Review that.

P.S. Skip the last book in the trilogy.

Professor Blather on March 24, 2012 at 3:57 PM

The story is basically Theseus tossed together with the Running Man. Would have been sweet to see Tetanus or whatever her name is face off against the Minotaur with someone filling the role of Ariadne.

El Feaze Shabazz on March 24, 2012 at 3:57 PM

Okay, that’s pathetic. I may not see the movie then. I hate it when a movie leaves out essential parts of a book it’s based on.

TeaTrekkie, I was pretty mad when I saw it the first time because I’m a rabid fan of the books (little less enthusiastic about MJ but still like the series as a whole) and I wanted the movie to be more like the first book. But I liked the movie much better the second time, after laying aside my book differences checklist and enjoying it for what it was. The two best scenes IMO are the reaping (gut-wrenching) and the K/P rooftop scene. Josh just knocks that one out of the park.

mrsknightley on March 24, 2012 at 4:00 PM

TeaTrekkie, I was pretty mad when I saw it the first time because I’m a rabid fan of the books (little less enthusiastic about MJ but still like the series as a whole) and I wanted the movie to be more like the first book. But I liked the movie much better the second time, after laying aside my book differences checklist and enjoying it for what it was. The two best scenes IMO are the reaping (gut-wrenching) and the K/P rooftop scene. Josh just knocks that one out of the park.

mrsknightley on March 24, 2012 at 4:00 PM

Thanks ~ I will probably end up seeing it. Curiosity will get the better of me. CAUTION: somewhat of a spoiler alert to anyone who has not yet read the book. I didn’t like the last book as well either. But the way it ended made up for everything. That put a smile on my face.

TeaTrekkie on March 24, 2012 at 5:04 PM

Oh, Ed. Usually you impress. Not this time.

Honestly – just read the book.

I won’t comment on the movie because I haven’t seen it (there’s a hint in there for you).

The book is frankly extraordinary. And I read it as a 40 year old infantry officer sitting in Iraq, not from the perspective of a hormone-addled teenager.

I challenge you: read the book. Review that.

P.S. Skip the last book in the trilogy.

Professor Blather on March 24, 2012 at 3:57 PM

I will join you in almost everything you said. I’m also about the same age as you, and as far away from the targeted market as possible (born and raised behind the Iron Curtain). Amazon offered “Hunger Games” on their “Amazon Daily Deal” for 99 cents last summer and I decided to see what all the chatter was about.

I read the entire trilogy in 5 days and I think Ed should read the entire series and then put up his review on this amazing set of books.

Oh yeah Ed, keep your day job too.

Ed says….

, but Donald Sutherland and Wes Bentley are wasted in their parts.

Another reason to read the entire series, Ed! Sutherland and Bentley both play bigger roles in the 2nd book and 3rd book. President Snow is evil in a way you will never imagine.

Professor Blather, I will respectfully disagree with you on reading book 3, “Mockingjay”. Although not my favorite of the series, I still needed to see how the series ended.

Keep your head down and stay safe, Blather and thanks for serving my new country.

JPeterman on March 24, 2012 at 5:16 PM

And one more thing, Ed! Keep your day job and stick to politics. Siskel and Ebert you are not!

JPeterman on March 24, 2012 at 5:21 PM

I loved (The) Long Walk, now that would be a great 1 hour movie on sci-fi.

rob verdi on March 24, 2012 at 9:25 AM

Great story, but it deserves a HBO mini-series ;)

Ugly on March 24, 2012 at 5:22 PM

Great story, but it deserves a HBO mini-series ;)

Ugly on March 24, 2012 at 5:22 PM

NOT HBO, the Helping Barack Obama network would find a way to make the capital people benevolent and necessary while the districts are ignorant and ungrateful.

ray on March 24, 2012 at 5:31 PM

The two best scenes IMO are the reaping (gut-wrenching) and the K/P rooftop scene. Josh just knocks that one out of the park.

mrsknightley on March 24, 2012 at 4:00 PM

How did they handle Rue?

JPeterman on March 24, 2012 at 5:34 PM

The Hunger Games seems like a Twilighted version of Battle Royale.

Catoclysmos on March 24, 2012 at 5:35 PM

ray on March 24, 2012 at 5:31 PM

Pretty much The Long Walk in a nutshell.

Ugly on March 24, 2012 at 5:44 PM

Here’s my book review (from someone in the HA average :) )…

I didn’t want to like the first book, but I did. (Don’t miss it)

Then I wanted to like the next 2 books, and I didn’t so much.

faraway on March 24, 2012 at 6:05 PM

Ed,

It looks like you missed the mark on this one.

Flawed on March 24, 2012 at 6:11 PM

JPeterman, it was well acted but didn’t earn the emotional impact it had in the book because the relationship was more abbreviated.

mrsknightley on March 24, 2012 at 6:20 PM

I stopped reading book 1 about 30 pages in. There’s no coherent world building here, and without that, the story is just dull unless you’re into teen romance.

evergreen on March 24, 2012 at 2:51 PM

Which means you didn’t even read a description of the book. This story is not about world building and it sure isn’t some teen romance.

JPeterman on March 24, 2012 at 6:53 PM

JPeterman, it was well acted but didn’t earn the emotional impact it had in the book because the relationship was more abbreviated.

mrsknightley on March 24, 2012 at 6:20 PM

Thanks, that’s too bad, but it still won’t stop me from seeing the movie.

JPeterman on March 24, 2012 at 6:57 PM

I know someone who read all 3 books in about 4 days.

Voter from WA State on March 24, 2012 at 9:51 AM

That’s what my wife did. We saw the movie last night. I haven’t read the books but enjoyed the movie quite a bit. However the ratio of female:male in the theater was about 4:1. Mostly high school girls.

Dasher on March 24, 2012 at 6:58 PM

The third book is very good, it just does take some time to reel you in, IMO. My daughter is seeing it right now, so I am anxious to see what she thinks (I’m very squeamish, so I need to know how graphic it’s going to be!)…I agree that it’s hard to delve as deeply into the relationships on film as it is on the page, so I always expect a book I like to be somewhat lacking when it’s brought to the screen…hopefully, they will flesh everything out more with the next two films. Funny how several guys here have read the books…my husband picked up the first one after I kept putting off reading it-he ended up not putting it down all day and pretty much read the first two in one weekend! He’s having trouble with the third, but I’m hoping he’ll get to the point of no return, because I really enjoyed how it resolved. Read the books, Ed!

ellifint on March 24, 2012 at 6:59 PM

This review seems a tad harsh. I can understand Ed not getting into this, as he hasn’t read the books and he is not a teen or young adult.

Let me just offer up front that my daughter (age 12) has NEVER been so excited to see a movie. She was literally running up and down the hall Wednesday night in anticipation.

I agree with Ed about the shaky cam. The director used it, I’m sure, to increase the confusing, dark feeling. It accomplished this, but was used to excess. I felt sometimes that my eyes just wanted to rest on something, but the camera and the editing kept them moving so much it was uncomfortable. To me that was the only negative.

I had a hard time getting into the book, the premise itself is incredibly harsh and requires a huge suspension of disbelief. But once you accept the premise and go with it, I think the extreme nature of the premise allows it to reveal interesting things about human nature.

The movie itself was extremely moving, more so than the book to me. I felt the story lent itself well to visuals and I loved the look they gave the capital city and the costumes. I didn’t feel it was derivative. In any case, there is no movie or story that isn’t derivative of something.

The character change that Ed feels is lacking comes (in my understanding) in the later books. Remember this movie is only Act 1. We’ll see how the rest of them turn out, but for the first movie out the gate I think it was excellent.

What I find fascinating is to see how people respond to stories like this. What is it in this story that makes young people and even some adults feel so passionately about it? I has certainly tapped into something.

Galadriel on March 24, 2012 at 7:12 PM

salmonczar on March 24, 2012 at 1:18 PM

This is a great movie. You have to understand that the majority of hotair readers are 55 and older. But what’s interesting is that they are quick to try to destroy a pg13 work of art, but prop up R-rated movies just because they suit their political or religious cravings.

Rusty Allen on March 24, 2012 at 7:34 PM

Don’t know if I’ll like the film having read Ed’s review, since I really liked the first book and Ed was turned off by the story. Yes it’s derivative but so is everything. Collins does a good job of telling the horrifying story of two dozen teenagers being thrown together for the purpose of having them murder each other, for the entertainment of a viewing audience. Don’t think it’s a political tract, though seeing the denizens of the Capital living in luxury while the people of the districts are oppressed and starving does sound familiar. Better move to DC and get a job with the Federal government before it’s too late!

waelse1 on March 24, 2012 at 7:38 PM

The cinematography makes extensive use of the modern shaky-camera and ultra-close-up “documentary” techniques that supposedly gives a film a realistic look, but mainly drives people up the wall.

I call that film techinque, “Johnny with a handicam,” and I hate it — besides the fact that some days it gives me a MASSIVE headache they paid thousands of dollars for a steady cam and I paid tens of dollars to see a professional movie not Johnny with a handicam!

LifeTrek on March 24, 2012 at 7:43 PM

JPeterman, I’d see it a third time if I could. Dying for the DVD release…

mrsknightley on March 24, 2012 at 8:00 PM

Although I enjoyed reading the books, I found the movie to be slow and rather boring. Even while leaving out so many details that are really needed to understand what’s happening and why the characters do what they do, they still ended up with a slow moving, looong and boring movie.

My wife on the other hand hadn’t read the books and enjoyed the movie so it wasn’t a complete waste of time and money.

crashland on March 24, 2012 at 8:26 PM

Excellent review, Ed.

I saw the film and can easily see why Hollywood and liberal critics in general love it so dearly. As actress Kristen Bell said a couple days ago, “This is the piece of literature that in a hundred years we’ll look back on and it will be the best thing we’ve ever written.” That’s pathetic and foolish, but what’s new?

The movie isn’t simply another derivative, populist piece of crap like “Running Man,” “Death Race,” “Rollerball,” “The Game,” etc. etc. It’s more significant than that because it’s framed in Marxist ideology which since Obama became president is increasingly becoming mainstream, showing the overfed, gaudily dressed one percenters keeping the rest of society in a kind of work-slavery from which there’s no escape. Meanwhile, the decadent leisure class amuse themselves with games where children butcher one another. If all this seems absurdly over-the-top, it’s important to remember that myth and emotion are more important than clear thinking to liberals. This film is an emotionally comforting and inspiring parable to them as meaningful as Jesus’s parables were to his disciples.

Burke on March 24, 2012 at 8:58 PM

I didn’t see it as a slam on the one percenters…at the end, it’s obvious that their lives mean as little to the rulers as those in the 12 districts. They also don’t exactly portray the “good” guys, with their strict schedules of the people and harsh food rationing, as sympathetic…it’s stated pretty early in book three that the system is pretty much one of shared sacrifice/misery, and smacked very much of collectivism. I think the message was a very good one. As for silly actress’ saying things like Bell said, that strikes me more as an uninformed young person having no perspective of anything beyond her here and now…jmoo.

ellifint on March 24, 2012 at 9:49 PM

I saw the film and can easily see why Hollywood and liberal critics in general love it so dearly. As actress Kristen Bell said a couple days ago, “This is the piece of literature that in a hundred years we’ll look back on and it will be the best thing we’ve ever written.” That’s pathetic and foolish, but what’s new?
Burke on March 24, 2012 at 8:58 PM

That’s how you know liberals are working overtime on trying to sound serious: when they so desperately underplay their insane hyperbole. She could just as easily say this is the most important thing the human race will do in the next millenia. But no, she pulled back the reins and limited this work to only defining the next century of human endeavor.

The bad news? This will be forgotten next month. Once the hacks figure out that adding One Percenter rhetoric to the psychotic teen angst of Twilight is the new ultimate box office draw, that’s pretty much all you’ll see in film and print for quite some time.

logis on March 24, 2012 at 9:51 PM

It is funny how the books are very anti-totalitarian/marxist and yet the movie came off almost anti-capitalist.

Other than that, the movies are never as good as the books so it’s just to be expected as movie companies are all too happy to cash in, knowing that fans will see it anyway regardless of the knowledge that the books are always better.

It also seemed worth mentioning to Ed Morrissey that Jennifer Lawrence’s mostly emotionless performance may have more to do with the fact that the character of Katniss in the books is effectively emotionally stunted due to the nature of her upbringing, the burdens of it, and the fact that in a totalitarian society she has learned to keep her thoughts to herself and always have a poker face. It pretty much takes the events of the Hunger Games to break her.

Or it could be Jennifer Lawrence, just saying I don’t think your comment was quite fair since you haven’t read the books.

Blacksoda on March 24, 2012 at 10:00 PM

dominigan on March 24, 2012 at 12:16 PM

From your link:

Survival is not the highest good.

It was interesting. Thanks for linking it.

From the other one:

Collins never sexualizes Katniss–even as she is forced into a relationship for the benefit of the Capitol–the 1 percent.

… And then I just stopped reading. :)

Axe on March 24, 2012 at 10:01 PM

P.S. Skip the last book in the trilogy.

Professor Blather on March 24, 2012 at 3:57 PM

Actually, skip the last two. Collins had a good idea with the Games and then wandered around in a thicket for the other two books trying to figure out what else to do. I really liked Hunger Games but the other two books were not as satisfying.

alwaysfiredup on March 24, 2012 at 10:07 PM

The story is about resisting a totalitarian socialistic central government that suppresses and exploits the rural people of the country for the benefit of the capitol. There are no “1%’s” in the story line, as there is no free market allowed, nor are there any individual liberties, it is a police state. If you actually read the books, you would know this.

The story has not been forgotten since the first book in the trilogy was published in 2008, and will definitely not be forgotten next month.

ray on March 24, 2012 at 10:10 PM

The Queen soundtrack rocked. Hawkmen…FLY!!!

msupertas

“What do you mean, Flash Gordon approaching?”

What a deliciously terrible movie, I couldn’t wait to get it on DVD

E9RET on March 24, 2012 at 12:08 PM

I can call my sister right now and sing “FLASH! AH AHHHHHH!” — And I’ll bet lunch-money she’d start laughing and respond with: Not the Bore Worms!

Axe on March 24, 2012 at 10:14 PM

The story is about resisting a totalitarian socialistic central government that suppresses and exploits the rural people of the country for the benefit of the capitol. There are no “1%’s” in the story line, as there is no free market allowed, nor are there any individual liberties, it is a police state. If you actually read the books, you would know this.

The story has not been forgotten since the first book in the trilogy was published in 2008, and will definitely not be forgotten next month.

ray on March 24, 2012 at 10:10 PM

Well said. There’s a lot of pontificating around here from folks claiming to have seen the movie or read the books, but somehow I don’t think they did.

JPeterman on March 24, 2012 at 10:31 PM

Took both my daughters to see this film today. As they watched the story play out I whispered to both…this is why we fear government.

Every student in America should be made to watch this movie and read this trilogy. It is an amazing look at “elitists” running the lives of the “peasants” and taking pleasure from their pain and suffering.

I have read the ridiculous and stupid comments of posters who have obviously never read the book or seen the movie, many who I know to be conservative, and once again remark sadly on the strangeness and idiocy that seems to fester here.

mathscience41 on March 24, 2012 at 10:44 PM

I love ya, Ed, but I don’t trust anyone endorsing Santorum to judge anything cultural.

I saw it tonight and thought it was amazing.

It's Vintage, Duh on March 24, 2012 at 10:48 PM

lol haters gonna hate

tlynch001 on March 24, 2012 at 10:51 PM

Every student in America should be made to watch this movie and read this trilogy. It is an amazing look at “elitists” running the lives of the “peasants” and taking pleasure from their pain and suffering.

I have read the ridiculous and stupid comments of posters who have obviously never read the book or seen the movie, many who I know to be conservative, and once again remark sadly on the strangeness and idiocy that seems to fester here.

mathscience41 on March 24, 2012 at 10:44 PM

This in the bold. I was born and raised in Eastern Europe under Communism, this is what they did. We worked hard for the State, only to see our hard work given to the elites of State while we went hungry and suffered.

JPeterman on March 24, 2012 at 11:01 PM

Sister-in-Law watched it today. said it was good but the books were far better

Opinionnation on March 24, 2012 at 11:03 PM

JPeterman, it was well acted but didn’t earn the emotional impact it had in the book because the relationship was more abbreviated.

mrsknightley on March 24, 2012 at 6:20 PM

Yeah, in the book I considered their relationship a very good foreshadowing, and the one scene possibly the most emotional in the entire story. Cramming so much in a couple of hours does dampen the impact of some of the emotional events.

ray on March 24, 2012 at 11:03 PM

Just saw the movie, I had finished the books a couple months ago. I can see how some might be a little lost if they haven’t read the books at all but overall it was a pretty good adaptation of the books. Wish it was less condensed but not that bad (could have been much worse… there’s a reason there won’t be a sequel to Golden Compass coming out). One big complaint that I would have in the movie, they should have played it out more how Kat is being completely fake in her affection to Peeta and him not realizing this until the very end.

In the books Katniss isn’t likeable or interesting – she has some great internal monologues and conflict but to the audience she is an unlikeable dud. That’s a bit of development within the trilogy – her being completely uncompelling yet being propped up at the center.
Sutherland did not fit at all as Snow in my opinion.

The camera-work / movie had me flashbacking to Firefly a bit – anyone else feel that?

Ukiah on March 24, 2012 at 11:11 PM

You may know this, but it’s already in production: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1731141/

eforhan on March 24, 2012 at 12:01 PM

Ender’s Games has gotten Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld, of 2010′s True Grit. She got picked up for the lead female role of the franchise. Hailee Steinfeld was also grabbed by the Hunger Games folks, just as many fans of the Hunger Games franchise were declaring that she would be perfect as Katniss. But since the story involved a romance, they deemed 14 year old Hailee too young.

Many thought Steinfeld was the perfect choice where shocked. She was a teen like the character in the book and Hailee also resembled the character a lot.

dec5 on March 24, 2012 at 11:13 PM

Has anyone else noticed anything odd about the still (on the main page) of Katniss “drawing” her bow? Where is that arrow resting exactly? And just how asymmetrical is that bow? Or is the arrow just nocked really high? No wonder she’s hungry!

Mrs. Hill on March 24, 2012 at 11:53 PM

I have absolutely no desire to see this movie.

I don’t find the concept of teens running around shooting other people with bows and arrows to win a loaf of bread interesting.

TigerPaw on March 25, 2012 at 1:45 AM

My daughter is a HUGE fan of the books. She was waiting for this movie for a year. She and her brother, who also read the three books went to see it Friday. They came out disappointed. They like the movie, but had some serious complaints.

1. The soundtrack. There is a “soundtrack” CD out which they have. It is filled with good songs based on the folk music explained in the book. Very little was in the movie.

2. The scenes were great, but disjointed. As with all books of great detail, the movie can’t translate it. For example, Ed complains that the main character doesn’t show emotion. The reason for this is because in the book the character is thinking all the time. She talks to herself explaining why she feels the way she does. My daughter said knowing the book allowed her to “see” the actor’s reaction to a scene and thought the actor captured the moment well, but also said it would have been easier for the audience if they allowed her to speak or think so they can be in on the process.

3. This is going to be a series. Maybe the second movie, which will have more of a love triangle, will fill out the outline presented in the first.

4. The concept of people letting children fight isn’t unknown in our human history. We are a brutal bunch and do some very bad things to keep occupied. Kids fighting kids to the death isn’t much farther down the line then sending eight year old girls with bombs strapped to their bodies into military checkpoints is it?

archer52 on March 25, 2012 at 4:39 AM

My take.

kingsjester on March 25, 2012 at 7:16 AM

I have absolutely no desire to see this movie.

I don’t find the concept of teens running around shooting other people with bows and arrows to win a loaf of bread interesting.

TigerPaw on March 25, 2012 at 1:45 AM

Oh sure. The way you summarized it, it’s suddenly interesting again.

Axe on March 25, 2012 at 7:33 AM

Not really . . . this isn’t sci-fi. It is about real people. It is unfortunately something that could happen if we ever didn’t keep watching.

Voter from WA State on March 24, 2012 at 10:55 PM

Really???

REALLY???

/facepalm

Roy Rogers on March 25, 2012 at 7:57 AM

Not really . . . this isn’t sci-fi. It is about real people. It is unfortunately something that could happen if we ever didn’t keep watching.

Voter from WA State on March 24, 2012 at 10:55 PM

Battle Royale wasn’t Sci-fi. It has a very similar premise to Hunger Games but the book came out in 1999, followed by a mediocre film adaption in 2000.

Catoclysmos on March 25, 2012 at 9:14 AM

Sounds like a rip-off of Stephen King’s ‘The Long Walk’ with some of ‘The Running Man’ thrown in.

blue13326 on March 24, 2012 at 9:23 AM

I was thinking the same thing. But I’ll hold my judgement until I read the book. I downloaded it to my Kindle last week. I think I shall put the current book I’m reading on hold so I can take a gander at HG.

mizflame98 on March 25, 2012 at 9:36 AM

Kids fighting kids to the death isn’t much farther down the line then sending eight year old girls with bombs strapped to their bodies into military checkpoints is it?

But the low-life slimy produces of Hollywood always figure there’s big bucks in having beautiful innocent looking youths killing each other. Their stinking black hearts love that kind of crap.

Chessplayer on March 25, 2012 at 10:56 AM

Ukiah, Katniss was certainly faking it at first, but not as the relationship progressed. The whole point at the end was that while she wasn’t completely in love with Peeta, she felt enough for him to be confused by what was real and what wasn’t.

mrsknightley on March 25, 2012 at 11:02 AM

Professor Blather

As I was reading through the comments, beginning to formulate some thoughts on this topic, I came across your post. I think you managed to crystallize everything I was vaguely pondering, plus a couple more that didn’t occur to me. Long way to say, “What you said.”

Knott Buyinit on March 25, 2012 at 12:14 PM

kingsjester on March 25, 2012 at 7:16 AM

Perhaps you should at least read the book or see the movie before you comment or write a blog post?

Seriously, this isn’t a sci-fi book/movie, not even close. And your take on the violence? This book is marketed as “young adult” 12-18 years old with a powerful message of what could happen if we’re not watching.

Seriously, read the book.

JPeterman on March 25, 2012 at 12:52 PM

You know, I was thinking after I read the review yesterday, what the hell is a hunger game , any way? Why on earth would ANYone starve in a post-apocalyptic America where there would be less population, but presumably the same amount of sea-to-shining sea corn belts and deer / fish / turkeys that our pioneer and pilgrim ancestors thrived on. On the face of it, it makes no sense, and I’m not inclined to delve into the books if they’re that stupid from the get-go. I’m guessing that the population in the story depends on their food supply from Big Government, and to me that’s even lower than get-go stupid.

Boomers can probably remember our parents talking about the Depression and living on what they could glean from nature. I can remember my father talking about doing sharp-shooting contests at Thanksgiving because they couldn’t afford to buy a turkey, I watched him go deer hunting every fall, and he had a garden every single year right up until the time he went to live with my brother out of state. My mother canned and stored and froze her little heart out for her entire life. When my brothers and I cleaned out the old homestead, one of the biggest chores was cleaning out their massive freezer in the garage which was packed full of meat and vegetables and fruit dating back decades, with not a food stamp in sight.

If you’re depending on Big Government to feed you, then you deserve to be hungry.

I see that the original review and commenters have listed the number of previous opus(es) the Game meme is derived from, including The Lottery, Logan’s Run, Soylent Green, the King’s The Stand. I wasn’t familiar with the books before, and now that I’ve read reviews and comments, will not be reading them and certainly will not spend money at a theater to see the movie. It’s doubtful I’ll even put them on my Netflix list. Too bad because I really enjoyed the initial Harry Potter books once they were brought to my attention.

NahnCee on March 25, 2012 at 1:26 PM

“Hunger Games” is not about the dangers of liberal-fascism as some commenters here apparently believe. The rulers are gaudily dressed in wild fashions with self-indulgent, highly mannered hair styles. These aren’t typical bloodless socialists that are being portrayed as we all know them; they are a caricature of decadent conservatives as seen from the average liberal’s point of view. Liberals as a whole want to go back to becoming Natural Man–they won’t tolerate conservatives with their fancy fashions, clothes and updos.

The reason the story’s dystopia exists in the first place, according to Collins the writer, is that there is supposedly a giant environmental catastrophe resulting from a high rise in sea levels. Does that sound like a conservative idea? I recognize this meme well, because I used to enjoy science fiction before the trendy steampunk movement came into vogue which is based on all the same premises of this film.

The name of the dystopia is Panem which derives from “bread and circuses” (from the phrase “panem et circenses”). This is a liberal meme–that we conservatives are all so focused on trivial distractions (like reality shows) that we are missing the main picture (namely, all the suffering of the disadvantaged). The hip intelligentsia of the forties and fifties knew that Communist Arthur Koestler was really writing about the urgency for social justice and revolution when he wrote his book “Spartacus.” And hip Marxists today understand the subtext of this new story as well.

I’ve seen and read a lot of movies and books about liberal dystopias–from “1984″ to “Darkness at Noon” to “First Circle” to “THX 1138.” This is not one of them.

A triumphant moment in the film occurs when the young black girl dies and all the blacks in one of the districts riot to show their outrage. This is supposed to be emotionally satisfying because it represents “social progress.” In the same way, black rioting after Rodney King’s beating was social progress, too.

Katniss the heroine comes from a coal mining district (hint hint) where everyone is bitterly miserable and poor (hint hint); the rulers in contrast are self-indulgent profligates with extravagant costumes (hint hint). Various liberals in Hollywood are screaming that this movie is the greatest achievement since “Handmaid’s Tale” and those who joined the cast (Harrelson, Sutherland, for example) are known for their radical activism. These are not very good signs.

I don’t fault those who think the book and film are conservative, though, since there are a lot of people who still believe that the German Nazis were conservative, too. It can sometimes get confusing.

Burke on March 25, 2012 at 1:29 PM

I saw the movie Friday afternoon, got the books Friday night and finished book 3 this morning. A wonderful trilogy. And I enjoyed all 3 books – it was a story that I raced through to find out how it ended and was sorry it was over when I finished.

The movie was great. For those of you who say the actress who played Katniss showed no depth/emotion – did you pay attention to the movie at all? The living conditions, what she did to support her family, to protect her little sister? They tell you early on in the movie those things that are forbidden or ‘against the law’ yet she does what she does to survive and protect. She goes into the games knowing that her death was more than likely a given, yet her mind is always moving, how to survive. The books do indeed fill in details not revealed in the movie – which only makes the stories more compelling, but in my opinion do not detract from the movie’s story and portrayal.

A political message? for this adult absolutely. Which makes me all the more compelled to help ensure that we never ever let the govt have 100% dominance over our lives. Even the favored ones have no insurance that their lives won’t end for small rebellions or slights against the govt. Imagine being imprisoned and your daily lives dictated and controlled, never having ‘enough’ to keep you in line. What I am most surprised by is that liberal Hollywood actually made this movie.

ladyhawke53 on March 25, 2012 at 1:36 PM

Comment pages: 1 2 3