Saturday, July 20, 2019

The Hunger Games: Wet Tinder

So I'm sitting in a pizzeria, staring at a flatscreen TV as I wait for my order. Turns out I'm watching part of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. (I Googled it after returning home.) The Hunger Games is one of those movies you hear about even if you never saw it. I read some reviews. And from what I witnessed, I wasn't missing out. 

It's undiluted chick flick fare. There's Katniss with second fiddle, boy-toy actors who play her love interests. Apparently, fans, as well as some critics, think Jennifer Lawrence is a fine actress. Really? I mean, she can emote. And there's only so much you can do with the role, considering how it was written. I guess she's just pretty enough without being unattainably gorgeous that teeny bopper fans can vicariously identify with the character. 

The basic idea of the story has some dramatic potential. A decadent totalitarian ruling class centered in the capital city. Reminiscent of imperial Rome. Versailles. Czarist Russia. The Forbidden City. And it's easy to see contemporary parallels. Big Tech. Silicon Valley. Blue cities. Blue states. 

But the execution is so cartoonishly broad and heavy-handed that it's hard to take seriously–unless you're a teenybopper, which is, of course, the target nitch, and widely successful in that regard. Like the Twilight franchise, the appeal is largely impenetrable to the male half of the population. At least normal guys. The kind of movie girls drag their boyfriends to. So long as the boyfriend has earbuds and a hidden phone to tune out the kitsch. 

1 comment:

  1. I suspect Hunger Games took its core story from the much more gruesome and less sanitized Japanese film Battle Royale. And/or Arnold's The Running Man. And/or Robert Sheckley's short story "Seventh Victim". To be fair, I haven't seen or read any of these except Battle Royale, but that's what I sometimes hear from others who have. In any case, Hunger Games seems utterly derivative to me. I think it's arguable the same story has been done much better elsewhere.

    And I personally find Jennifer Lawrence annoying on screen and off screen, though I know she's often held up as attractive. To be fair, I've never seen her apparent Oscar worthy performances in Winter's Bone and Silver Linings Playbook. I've only seen her popular fare.