The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games ★★½

48/100

Las Vegas Weekly review. I also asked a bunch of questions on my blog at the time, and include them here for your amusement; no need to answer them now as (a) people did so then and (b) I've seen all the subsequent movies (unfortunately).

(1) Is any justification provided for the age range of 12-18? Ostensibly, the purpose of the Games is to keep the populace of the outer districts willingly enslaved, but seems like tossing pre-teen girls into the arena as chum for the college-age kids would only set off precisely the sort of angry riot that's provoked by Rue's death.

(2) Clearly Gale must play a larger role in the subsequent novels, but does he have a discernible function in the first one, or is he just a complete waste of space like he is onscreen?

(3) Does Collins actually write it so that the Asshole Alliance chases Katniss up a tree, decides to wait until starvation forces her to descend (itself not that credible, frankly), and then goes to sleep en masse, without taking turns keeping watch like any group with even a dozen functioning brain cells among them would surely do?

(4) What's the deal with the sponsors? So much is made of this early on, and then as far as I can tell the only result is two care packages that it's implied—unless I completely misunderstood—are sent by Haymitch. Which that's more like having your pit crew change your tires than like being forced to pimp yourself out to a national viewing audience, which is by far the story's most compelling aspect. Which brings me to, most crucially, and this I do intend to address at length in the review proper...

(5) Does the book make it abundantly clear, via Katniss' interior monologue, that her feelings for Peeta are manufactured, or at least that she initially believes herself to be feigning them as a cynical strategy? Because that's the impression I get from the Wiki synopsis, and the film seems to me to deliberately mute that angle, to the point where it's barely even perceptible to viewers like myself who are coming to the movie cold (while at the same time, I can see in retrospect, being very perceptible to those who already know via the book what's going on). "Afterwards, Peeta is heartbroken when he learns that Katniss's actions in the arena were part of a calculated ploy to earn sympathy from the audience," it says here, for instance, which is decidedly not how that bullet-train scene in the epilogue plays. Feels like Ross and the screenwriters worked hard to have it both ways, gutting the story's heart in the process. I'd like to credit Ross with being enormously subtle, but, y'know. Pleasantville. Seabiscuit. It's kinda hard.