Thursday, April 26, 2012

Movies: The Hunger Games

Does history repeat itself? Will the Roman Empire come back? The Hollywood blockbuster "The Hunger Games" (directed by Gary Ross imdb ) seems to suggest a revival of the Roman Empire in the near future. The flick shows a world divided into a "Capitol" (Rome?) and a dozen "districts" (provinces?). The "Capitol" is extremely rich and technologically far advanced. Their capitol citizens are pretty decadent as allegedly the Old Romans were. Like the Old Romans they indulge in bloody spectacles where human life is sacrificed, now celebrated as TV reality shows.   Only "underdogs" live in the districts and they are dirt poor and seem to have a pre-industrial revolution technology. They have no rights and are sometimes game for the "Capitol" citizens. The whole system is ruled by a scrupulous dictator (Cesar?). For some reason, a randomly selected group of youths from the districts has to participate in a TV reality show and travel there to accomplish  deadly fights against each other till just one survives: The "Hunger Games".

The flick is somewhat entertaining but it shows clearly that the producers focus on young adults, the largest and most profitable market for the movie industries. The plot is violent, but this violence is well tempered and if you want eroticism and sex you are in the wrong movie. The story doesn`t bother much with logic. Some of the characters appear and disappear suddenly like the "deus ex machine" (god out of the machine wikipedia) in the classical Greek drama.

I enjoyed watching some of the actors, especially Stanley Tucci as the host of this TV show.  I also liked the coolness of Woody Harrelson even though his role as a cynical mentor didn´t give him as much elbowroom as the movie "Rampart" (). The leading actors Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson did a solid job, but I am not sure if I will still remember them next week. Some of the characters, especially the Cesar like leader of "Capitol" and the general manager of "The Hunger Games", were plain and stereotypical. Watching them gave me the impression spotting "Bad Shakespeare".

The special effects were poor, especially for such an expensive production. There is a modern train which might impress Americans who are driving only by cars, but this kind of mass transportation is now very common in Europe. The "Capitol" looked like a construction of paperboard and the monsters where pathetic. The special effect pioneer Ray Harrihausen did a much better job in the 1950s. Maybe this was deliberate so that even the youngest visitors and their accompanying mothers weren't`t too disturburbed. "Hunger Games" is an acceptable family entertainment for a rainy day.

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