The result is a big blur. The televised gladiatorial combat between adolescents would get zero viewership in the story’s future dystopia, if shown in the watered-down, swish-pan manner of the movie we see. What that audience would get (and we get) is a collective migraine headache. The bleary camerawork is motivated by Hollywood’s desire to camouflage the shootings, stabbings, maulings and excessive gore which helped make the Suzanne Collins book trilogy a success.
On opening April 20 weekend, “Hunger Games” boosted $155 million at the box office, but has since shrunk by $130 million. Could the PG-13 obsession be a mistake?
Besides the limp action factor, the movie a long 2 hours and 22 minutes, with a strange choice for director. Gary Ross (“Seabiscuit”) is nicely competent, but no Stanley Kubrick. “A Clockwork Orange,” this is not.
The slow build-up is peppered with recognizable actors in flashy make-up and costumes (Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, Toby Jones, Lenny Kravitz, Wes Bentley) as the game-makers. However, they don’t offset the basic lethargy of the “teen” leads.
Jennifer Lawrence (Oscar-nominated for 2010’s “Winter’s Bone”) is 16-year old archer-huntress Katniss Everdeen and looks not a day under 21, which she is. Katniss volunteers to take the gladiatorial place of her lottery-selected younger sister, Primrose (Willow Shields). Supposedly displaying rebellious anger, Katniss acts like a kid annoyed at attending her parents’ party. She spends most of the combat hiding up a tree.
She has two near-subliminal love interests, Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth), who’s not in the games, and Peeta Mellmark (Josh Hutcherson), who is. She doesn’t show much enthusiasm for either guy, but then, she’s not too excited about anything.
“The Hunger Games” should be a disappointment for fans of the book. It’s hard to imagine dragging it on for two more movies. Of course, we’re talking franchise here.
Maybe, Hollywood will come to its senses and kill it. In this age of Columbine, that’s not such a bad idea.