Battle Not So Royale – The Hunger Games

I missed the whole Twilight phenomenon, so to try to stay hip to youth culture I went to see The Hunger Games. One thing I learned from this movie is that kids today have a much longer attention span than I ever did.

When I first saw The Hunger Games in 1987 it was called The Running Man and it lasted an hour and forty minutes. It only took the filmmakers half an hour to give us what we wanted, Arnold Schwarzenegger running for his life in a televised battle against celebrity assassins.

Now in 2012 they decided to remake the movie with an adolescent girl in the Schwarzenegger role. They made the movie two hours twenty minutes and we wait an excruciating hour to get what we want, kids running for their lives in a televised battle against celebrity assassin kids.

The producers of The Hunger Games don’t give The Running Man due credit and claim it was instead based on an original book. The filmmakers did not want to alienate this core audience by deviating too much from the so-called source material, but the difference between a movie and a book are books can be filled with descriptive exposition.  Movies need plot and they need it now. Spending a leisurely hour learning about this dystopian world might have been captivating on the printed page, but was boring on screen. Much of the time is spent on a talk show where a celebrity host interviews the child gladiators before they battle. I suppose it was trying to parody American Idol and other vacuous entertainments, but did they really need twenty minutes to satirize these idiocies?

Once the contest began I thought it would get interesting and it did for a moment. Kids killing kids isn’t something we’re privy to seeing very often.The protagonist, played by Jennifer Lawrence, runs through the woods convincingly giving us someone to root for, but all the battle scenes were timed wrong. Time that was wasted in the previous part of the movie where Jennifer Lawrence bonded with her fashion designer, could have instead been spent on the battlefield. When Jennifer Lawrence sheds tears over dead contestants it seems false, because she and the audience didn’t have the time to get to know these characters.

But the most egregious sin of this movie is why they took their time telling the story. The first movie is cynically just an introduction for a brand new franchise. This is the first of what is a planned four part series. This profit motive deprives any sense of fun that could have been had with the movie’s absurd concept of kids killing kids as televised entertainment.

So now we must wait for the sequel to see if the citizens of this cinematic world will rebel against their superiors for not sharing the wealth and seeking to opiate them with manipulative entertainments.

But I have the feeling just as many tickets will be bought for The Hunger Games Part 2 as were purchased for the first one.

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7 thoughts on “Battle Not So Royale – The Hunger Games

  1. I haven’t seen this movie yet and honestly my first impression of the film looked kinda blah. Have not read the books either, but frankly I’m getting a little tired of the “Oh this book is so awesome, I love it, I love it, I love it” crap, only to hear them complain about how it wasn’t EXACTLY like the book.

    That’s probably a little bit of envy on my part as having written 3 books I would one day like for mine to be held in such high regard.

    But, having written those 3 books I can tell you that movies will be altered to fit in with what is most popular today, deviating from the book at times on purpose. And that’s even the case if the author of the book is heavily involved.

    Case in point, The Walking Dead. Robert Kirkman is heavily involved in that TV shows production, yet he has deviated from his own writing that he began with the comic back in 2003. I myself have found little choice things I would change about my own books if I went back and altered them, but espcially if they were on celluloid. To be continued…

    • Gotta hate those browsers sometimes…

      Anyway, the problem with a book is that some of the events do not translate well into a movie or television show. Like the first hour as you described it for The Hunger Games. Some of the “fluff” could have been left out. When I go back and flip through The Civilization Loop I find myself pointing out things that if it were ever to become a movie, it might look better this way, or sound better this way.

      The ultimate prize for any author is to see their work made into a movie, that is done well. But everyone knows changes and liberties will be made.

      My question is how does something like The Hunger Games become so popular in the first place? Like I said, never heard of it prior to now, yet EVERYONE seems caught up in it. Even you decided to partake because of the frenzy of people going to see it. What’s the spark, I guess? The magic that makes that book different from one that never takes off?

      Another problem for me is that I’m not much of a reader. I only read things AFTER they become popular or show up in a movie, and it REALLY had to appeal to me for me to go back and read it. I’m just not a big reader, it’s never interested me. Unfortunately I never took after my dad in that regard, who is an avid reader.

      I just like to write, PERIOD! That probably seems like an oxymoron, a writer that doesn’t like to read, but I don’t believe you have to actually like reading to write. You just need to be able to read in order to understand what you’re doing.lol

      I’ll probably see this movie at some point, just because of the hub-bub. But if the first one sucks to me, I will hang it in the same place as Harry Potter…just not my cup of tea. Oh, and after watching most of the first Harry, I never watched another one again, nor read the books.

      • I got to disagree with you Jason, I think in this day and age the ultimate prize for a writer is to write something that can’t be filmed. To write something so literary, that it would be impossible to translate to the screen.
        I’ve heard of two amazing books that are coming to theaters that frighten me because there’s no way they can succeed the way the books did. Jack Kerouac’s On The Road and Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. Both get so far inside a character’s head in a way movie’s rarely are able to do that I’m really scared to see how they mess with them.
        Comic books however like The Walking Dead are made to be movies.

  2. Not quite sure I agree with you Pablo about the comic books. I think we are seeing that alot now because the generation making movies grew up on comics, so it’s easier for them to make movies (because they’ve ran out of ideas and it’s all they know). I myself, again not being a big reader, could have cared less for comic books. I was even disappointed when I found out that The Walking Dead was based from a comic book series, but I still love the show. They may look good in movies, but I think that’s why so many gimmicks are having to be done to keep people interested, and increase the revenue as it should be, because Hollywood is fighting a losing battle.

    Like you said, some writers are trying to write stuff NOT to have it made into a film or television series/movie/show, whatever. Those are the ones that like writing as an art form, not a pay day, per se. I mean really, do you think Stephanie Meyer or Rowling would have ever been authors 30-40 years ago with sparkling vampires and wizard kids? NO! Absolutely not because the concepts sound stupid. But, different times, man. It’s all about special effects.

    But I still like special effects and still will be seeing The Avengers, even though I could care less about the comic. Why? It LOOKS like a whole lotta fun. Let the artsy fartsies have their books.lol

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