So I watched this film a few weeks ago and came away feeling a little disturbed (which was undoubtedly the point) and a little dubious about the assumptions made by author who came up with the original storyline. Since then I’ve seen that for a debut film it’s doing remarkably well. This has enticed me to share some of my initial confusion and maybe see how other viewers made sense of the following.
OK, so firstly, it’s set in an Orwellian type future where there is this great big government who is in control of pretty much everything. A long time ago (75 years?) twelve districts under the control of said government revolted, but the revolt was unsuccessful and they failed to overthrow the regime. As a punishment (and to serve as a reminder) the central government organises the yearly ‘Hunger Games’: it selects one male and one female representative from each district to fight each other to the death in a restricted forest setting until only one emerges alive. Fighters’ names are drawn at random and everyone in the district between the ages of 12 and 18 has their name put in.
Not a bad idea for a plot, right? And OK, so I haven’t read the books. So this review is only really fair for my understanding of the film.
Here’s where I felt the plot failed. It is a poor reflection of the human psyche. It makes human nature seem ultimately weak, in order to fit the desired story line. It does not give the viewer faith in humanity. Which, really, every story of this type needs. That’s the point. Or so it is normally, but the author is fickle.
Yes, alright, the Romans had a similar set-up with the Gladiators but the difference being that the Gladiators were foreign soldiers/criminals/subversives/enemies of the empire/WHATEVS. Not children – excessive dramatic effect to attempt a cheap tear-wrench from the audience, and aimed to shock (‘OMG children killing each other in a game’ – yeah you get the point). Fair enough, but in a pseudo-real world with psuedo-real people revolution and anarchy would ensue at the mere prospect of organised, ritualistic child-on-child murder.
Then, the characters are somewhat unconvincing. There is a repeated flashback scene of Katniss (main character) sat pitifully in the rain and the local baker’s son throwing her a loaf of bread out of pity. Although, in the ‘present’ time she has a house/mother/sister etc and for someone who is supposedly starving the actress has a plump face with rosy cheeks. Hmmm.
Then, finally, why does she befriend the girl from the other district knowing full well that only one person will come out of it alive? why do any of the participants befriend/team up? why on earth would you trust someone if they are likely to stab you in your sleep? I mean, really.
I think one of the few convincing parts of the story is her refusal to ultimately kill the boy from her own district. Overall, I did enjoy the film although found it too nerve-wracking and there are a lot of plot twists. But I suppose that comes with the territory.