The Filmmakers Ruined Something that Could Have Been Good
A 2.5/5 is pretty harsh, but hey, this is about my opinion and I have to stir the pot sometimes. I don’t think this movie is “bad” I think it’s poorly made. Where it succeeds, it fails ten times over. That’s why the rating from me is so low, but I’ll get more into specifics below. The Hunger Games follows Katniss Everdeen in a post apocalyptic world with a very powerful and evil government. She is forced to fight to the death against other young people from other Districts of this new country. It’s based on a very successful book series, one which I myself enjoyed as a kid.
Let me start off by saying that the actors actually do pretty well. Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss and Josh Hutcherson as Peeta aren’t at all bad in their roles and mostly do really well. Furthermore, from a writing perspective, the film isn’t too bad. There are some charming moments between Katniss and a little girl, Rue. As well as with her sister, Prim. The relationship with Peeta progresses well throughout the film, rather than being stagnant and consistent, something I definitely appreciate. So overall, I think the characters and storytelling are mostly good. It is hard to understand why Haymitch and Cinna care so much for Katniss, something established in the books, but kind of just there in the film.
What drops this movie down from being pretty okay to not very good is how it was shot and edited. The amount of hand held shaky cam footage in The Hunger Games is insane. I was getting dizzy just watching this movie. Put the camera on a tripod for a change, relax! It is so shaky! Several action moments contain a series of several, several cuts. It’s jarring, bizarre and makes the action look cheap. Take Liam Neeson in Taken jumping over a fence in like 17 cuts or something. That style of editing is never good. The editing in this film is pretty bad all around, when all the kids are walking out for the reaping at the beginning of the film, the editor cuts every second to a new group of kids, the camera is shaky and its super disorienting. In a bad way. As a film editor myself I can appreciate that sometimes you want to disorient an audience, but this is not the way to do it. I also know more cuts and shaky cam can add energy to an action scene, but this is not the way to do it. It really ruins the film for me.
The other technical aspect in this film that sucks is the sound design. I can’t tell you how many times this movie cuts out all sound for almost complete silence or one of those long, long beeps after an explosion of some sort. It happens so many times! Put some sound effects in this movie! Please! Do some sound design! It feels like a lazy cop out that’s really, really overdone in this film. Also, there’s not a cannon at every death, so they should really try to be consistent with that.
Overall, this film doesn’t suck. It has nostalgia and has a pretty compelling story. The fact that the cinematography and post production of this film is horrible, banishes it to the 2/5 section. I like the story and characters, remake the film with a more competent cinematographer and editor. Would I watch it again? I can’t say no, it’s part of a film series that I will probably watch again. Should you watch it? Read the books first.