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project hot air balloon

oh, deus.

By 9:07 AM , , , , ,

It was the perfect storm setup for me to say "yes" to venturing out to the burbs for the 4:15 screening of The Hunger Games on opening weekend. I had friends visiting from NYC, it was a rainy lazy Saturday afternoon & I was still lounging in my jammies at 2PM when I got the call.

Oh, PLUS, door to door service (thanks, Dino!) I didn't have to white-knuckle it through Super Mario Bros traffic. One drop of rain and California roads become a stunt-driver's closed circuit.

When we arrived at the multiplex it looked like there was a screening every 20 minutes, or at least until all teenagers killed each other getting into the theater, leaving one lone survivor.

[SPOILER ALERT! Do not venture beyond this point if you don't want to know what annoyed me about the film.]


There's been a lot of hype about THG, is like saying, yeah, there was a big earthquake in Japan last year. I'm no longer a teenager, so I escaped much of the chatter until recently. Then I heard rants about it being a rip-off of Battle Royale (2000), a film directed by Kinji Fukasaku. This is on my favorites list, so naturally, my ears perked up. How dare they...
Bottom line, I was entertained but not satisfied. I lost interest early on because there was zero suspense, lots of melodrama and even less of a point to the story. Now, I can lap up more than my share of melodrama if the writer is working harder than I am; but I got tired of pulling more than my own weight, so I sat back and waited it out with a tub of buttered popcorn. You can see that this film was priming the teenagers for a few 3D sequels in the very near future.

I like Jennifer Lawrence on screen. She's interesting to watch. But more than the parallels to BR, I saw her playing Ree, the same headstrong and maternal teenager that she portrayed in Winter's Bone (2010), in this movie.
She lived in the backwoods (even looks like the same int/ext location. LOL), with a dead(beat) father, a catatonic mother, and a host of lil'uns to care after. She's on a one-woman mission, can hunt, skin and grill small woodland creatures and gets kicked around by a band of thugs along the way.

But unlike WB, I disengaged from the film right around the end of Act I. There are many reasons, but here's a few:
  • Lighting in the film was blown out. It washed everything out to the point where I was constantly jumping out of my role as an audience member. It made Elizabeth Banks look grossly porous, and the faux Vivienne Westwood wardrobe was further cheapened (VW, respekt!). I don't buy the argument that that's what it was supposed to look like.
  • The storyteller got lazy about creating a complete alternate universe for us. Why is the future a blend between The Little House on the Prairie and the first (best) years of MTV? Can't you come up with something more creative than Falco and Human League ruling over the 12 Districts? Again, I don't buy the argument that that's what it was supposed to look like.
  • But the worst offense in the film is the deus ex machina. Or perhaps, dei ex machina, because I honestly lost count of the number of gods that came from above to rescue the characters (and story) in peril. There were so many life-saving delights that popped up at critical plot points, at times, quite literally, fell out of the sky, with the weakest setups, I thought I was watching an episode of Scooby Doo. Hurry up, pull something out of your ass and slap it on screen, we don't have time to weave it into the backstory. Again, I don't buy the argument that that's what it was supposed to look like.
Anyway, if you haven't seen Battle Royale or Winter's Bone go see The Hunger Games. If you've seen either, or worse yet, both, you'll be cranky like me.


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