100 movies: The Hunger Games

100 movies of 2012

Every year I set myself a target, usually of about 100, of films to watch. These are new films. Not new, new films. But films that are new to me. Any time I’ve seen a new one, I post a bit of a brain dump of my thoughts on the film here. Enjoy!

The Hunger GamesThe Hunger Games (23/03/12)

Set in a future where the Capitol selects a boy and girl from the twelve districts to fight to the death on live television, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her younger sister’s place for the latest match.

Vague disclaimer: I have not read the books. I know very little about the books other than a load of teenagers fighting to the death with only one winner. Very simplistic. But that’s all I knew going into this film.

Right, onto the film. So we have a future world where things ain’t so great for the every day people. But of course there are the city folk who seem to be doing pretty well with themselves. Oh and they look absolutely fabulous. The government’s got the people under their thumb and are doing a pretty damn good job at controlling the people. And then we’ve got The Hunger Games. The chance for the Districts to proudly watch their teenagers fight for their people. To the death. For entertainment.

The Hunger Games brought a couple of films to mind – Battle Royale and The Running Man. With Battle Royale you’ve got the fighting teens and The Running Man’s got the reality TV aspect. Smoosh them together with a bit of a Tween feeling and you’ve got The Hunger Games. But… it just didn’t work all that well for me. Sure, I enjoyed the film and thought it was good enough. But thought there were a fair few things that didn’t work for me in the film.

The whole thing with these kids killing each other for entertainment is pretty damn dark. There were some fairly brutal scenes. But I didn’t think it went far enough. In The Running Man you’ve got the over the top reality TV aspect which was missing here. It was just a by-the-by kind of thing. It wasn’t capitalised enough upon.

The film began to drag a little bit. It is a fairly long film. I’m not adverse to sitting in the cinema for over two hours, but when it begins to feel like more than two hours I start to get a bit ‘eh’. The pacing was great – really snappy, until the games actually got going. Things got slow and I grew a little bored. Well, bored’s a strong word. Restless moreso.

It was hard for me to connect with the characters. Jennifer Lawrence did a great job, but I thought I could feel more invested in Katniss’ plight. I just didn’t. She was just going through the motions. And me watching along with.

The rest of the supporting cast are great. Just wish there was more time spent on them. Though, I guess, it’s not really their story.

There was one point in the film (SPOILER ALERT) when District 12 have their little uprising after a certain death. I didn’t understand why after 74 Hunger Games, after that many deaths, that’s when they really think about things? Really?

I feel like I’m being really hard on the film. Thought it was good. Not great. The fangirls in the cinema loved it, so it must have done a lot of things right. Heck the guy in his 40s sitting in front of me was cradling his head during the last 20 minutes of the film. Just didn’t quite effect me that much.
Rating: 3/5

Read on to see all the films watched this year…

100 movies: Checking in at 115

100 movies of 2010

I think I might just be able to hit my adjusted 120 target for the year. Which scares me a little. Why? I wanted to aim for more movies next year. I don’t think I could top 120 for next year!

UnstoppableUnstoppable (26/11/10)
Unstoppable has all the ingredients of an extremely enjoyable and fun to watch popcorn film. You’ve got Tony Scott directing, Denzel Washington playing the hero, Chris Pine playing a younger hero and the villain of the piece is an unstoppable train. Of course you need the two heroes of the piece to start on rocky ground and then through the events of the film, they grow to be friends. All of this works in Unstoppable’s favour. The movie does take a little while to get into, but once the action kicks in, it’s a fun ride. You do know how it’ll all end before you get there, but there’s enough banter between Chris and Denzel’s characters for you not to care. There are some fun action set pieces and the score by Harry Gregson-Williams is brilliant (With a throwback to his work he did on Man on Fire). A very good action film to lose a few hours to.
Rating: 4/5

The SoloistThe Soloist (28/11/10)
I wanted so much to enjoy this and really like this film. But I got slightly bored and frustrated. I honestly did wonder why Robert Downey Jr’s character cared so much for this homeless but brilliant musician. Of course you can do things out of the goodness of your heart, but I didn’t get any of that from him. Well, not in the beginning. Both him and Jamie Foxx did a good job with their performances; Jamie Foxx in particular. I just didn’t feel the ‘heart’ of this film at all. Everything seemed too superficial, as if it was just skimming the surface of what the real point of the film was. I’m probably missing something. Highlight of the film for me was LaFayette (Nelsan Ellis) turning up as a person who runs a homeless shelter.
Rating: 2/5

The Next Three DaysThe Next Three Days (30/11/10)
Remake of the French film Pour Elle which I saw earlier this year. Back then I had no idea they were remaking the film. When I did find out I knew I wanted to see it. Just to compare. It’s pretty much a straight remake, with little variance from the original. The scene where the wife is arrested is almost exactly the same and there are a few others which are dead on too. The remake is definitely more ‘American’. In the sense that there’s a bit more explanation of the whys and whats. There’s more action. There’s less style. The French version had a bit more realism in it. The Next Three Days is a good enough thriller, if exceptionally slow. It did not feel like a film that was just under two hours. There were far too many endings. Though the cast were all good. Russell Crowe did an ample job of playing the helpless father and Elizabeth Banks the locked up mother. If this sounds like your kind of film just watch Pour Elle instead. It’s much better.
Rating: 2/5