Books turned into movies have a funny way of either breaking your heart or surpassing your mildest expectations. This one didn’t really do either for me. While the book was mediocre (to me, think Breaking Dawn level of story), the movie pulled away from that, delivering a mix between chaos and organized annoyance from the movie’s marque characters. With weak source material and flimsy premises, this movie still delivered some type of punch while still making women seem both weak and in need of being saved.
If you aren’t familiar with Hunger Games, the premise is pretty simple, on the surface. The world was torn apart by war years ago and to teach those that had rebelled a lesson, the victors hold an annual ‘game’ in which children from each area of the world ‘volunteer’ to play in a fight to the death. As you might expect, the character we are introduced to defies all odds and manages to subvert the government and win, possibly winning her freedom. It isn’t that simple, of course. The government thinks she has become a symbol for being rebellion and does what they can to eliminate her, even to have her return in a second game even though she should never have to. The second game doesn’t see an outright winner, but she survives and is now being used as a tool for the rebellion to overthrow the government.
Seems dense? Yeah, try nonsensical. What makes the movie compelling also makes it unattainable. At every turn, something unrealistic gets in the way, a contrivance that gets more and more unbelievable as the story progresses. To me, what makes it worse, is that the movie does stick to the book, which is really a blueprint for what, exactly? I don’t’ know what ‘we’ as a society are supposed to take away from this movie. Katniss (the main character) only seems to show strength at prescribed moments and it feels so reactive. While I do realize the character is being portrayed as mentally drained, having lived through two life-death situations, at the tenth breakdown of the movie, it just got old and annoying. I argue that if Katniss had died, the movie and story would have been better off. A martyr for the cause would have been much more effective than the loose cannon that Katniss is.
The movie has merit, don’t get me wrong, but from a story perspective, it was maddening. The mother of four kids who sat next to me seemed to have the same opinion as we glanced at each other periodically as Katniss had one of her dozens of meltdowns. If you’re a fan of the Hunger Games, you’ll like this, if not, then save your money and go watch the Hungry Games with Cookieness Evereat.