Tuesday, March 27, 2012

We See "The Hunger Games"

Saturday I took the family to see The Hunger Games at the local cinema.

I give it a "meh".

It was an admittedly decent book-to-movie adaptation, which was likely made quite difficult by knowing that 99.99% of the people who will see the movie have read the book at least once (and probably more than once), and if you get any little thing wrong, it'll be all over the blogosphere. I especially thought they did a good job of keeping things moving. For instance, there's a long, nausea-inducing section of the book where Katniss and Peeta make relationship talk that was excised, and that helped a lot.

On the downside: the production design was awful. A lot of the architecture and room interiors seem to have been taken from the ST:TOS school of design: lots of bare flat concrete surfaces, etc. Not a lot of pictures are available online yet, but look at this one of Donald Sutherland as the Evil President Snow:

Is that a cheap set or what?

Also, I've been reading misc stuff talking about all of the fashion design that went into this movie, and -- I just don't see it. First off, the decadent Capitol socialites just looked silly: it was like somebody's 'vision' of The Future was "everybody wears odd-colored hair, eyeshade, and eyelashes". I'm sorry, I'm a huge Science Fiction geek, and I've seen futuristic decadent socialites done well. On Fhloston Paradise in The Fifth Element, for example. Or check out this recent vodka commercial. I could go on, but I guess what I'm trying to say is that, fashion-wise, the movie seemed about as inspired as an episode of Space: 1999.

Secondly: as much as the book and the movie made a Big Effing D out of how Katniss was "The Girl On Fire!", the fire SFX were laughably bad; I was reminded of the "Stonehenge" scene in This Is Spinal Tap. I was expecting something more like Johnny Storm in The Fantastic Four. What was the director thinking?

I also had "issues" with the control room design:

I'm sorry, but you don't put displays flat on a desktop surface. Or maybe the government of Panem was so irredeemably evil that they wanted their tech people to have permanent aching necks and backs.

Sadly, the one piece of production design that I really liked got less than 5 seconds of screen-time, and that was the "hovercraft". It was awesome. Unsurprisingly I can't seem to find a single decent picture of it.

In summary: "meh". It's not a bad movie, and I'm sure that most fans of the book will enjoy it. But it doesn't achieve "classic" status like, say, Titanic or The Matrix or Alien or even Harry Potter. In twenty years it'll probably be as well-remembered as, say, the first Fletch movie.

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