The Hunger Games - movie review

From March 25, 2012

Overall rating: B
Please keep in mind that I have not read the books, so I was really coming at the movie with fresh eyes.

The acting and writing are VERY good. Jennifer Lawrence (as the main character) does a particularly good job. I liked her in this much more than I did in X-Men First Class.
It took me a while to realize that I was looking at Elizabeth Banks. She looks so weird and creepy in the movie. Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, and Donald Sutherland were at top form as usual. And Lenny Kravitz? Who knew that he would show up in a film?
I liked the sci-fi undertones in the movie. There's a hovercraft here, a shot of the grand Capitol there. Nothing in your face. Being a huge sci-fi fan, I appreciated this and wished there was more, but that's ok. 
The people in the Capitol are gaudy and vain-looking. Nice. (I wanted there to be more about the politics, but then again everybody bitched and moaned that Phantom Menace did too much of that. But I'd like to know the politics of the ruling-class. They seem fascistic but also like effete aristocrats. So which is it?) 
I also liked seeing the cuts back to the guys running the show.
I was very glad that the "arena" in the movie didn't look like your standard arena. I liked that it was a forest.
I also appreciated the subtle blue-grassiness of the score of the film.

The names of the characters are VERY stupid-sounding. Peeta? Like fucking pita bread? Are you kidding me? And Katniss? Oy vey. I guess that the author of the books was trying to subtly update names from our current era for use in the future. Instead of Hamish there's a guy named Haymitch. Ok. That's cool. I appreciate that. I just didn't like the majority of the names that she chose. Frank Herbert also did this in the DUNE books. Paul's last name is Atreides, an update of Atreus (as in the House of Atreus from Greek mythology). That's cool. But Tylwyth Waff (from Heretics of DUNE)? That's a stupid name.

The movie makes extensive use of one of my all-time hated film tropes: Shaky Cam.
I fucking hate Shaky Cam. I don't get sick/nauseous from it like some people do, but it annoys me nonetheless. Many directors think that if they use the Shaky Cam technique, their film will be magically imbued with a certain reality, like a documentary. 
It will not.
The audience already knows that the film is not real. Shooting everything in Shaky Cam doesn't suspend anyone's fucking disbelief. Using Shaky Cam really just looks like you don't know what you're doing. It looks like you're a bad filmmaker. 
And what was worse, the movie used CLOSE UP (Zoomed-in) Shaky Cam. Grrrrrrrrrrr! It made watching certain parts of it extremely hard. 
Shaky Cam CAN be used to great effect... 
Just watch any old sci-fi movie space battle (Star Trek anyone?). Good use. 
Or watch the scene in HP Deathly Hallows Part 1 where they're running through the woods chased by the baddies. Good use. 
Christopher Nolan also uses Shaky Cam well in his Batman movies. But in all those cases, Shaky Cam is used sparingly, not in 90% of the shots. 
The Hunger Games used it at least that often. Lame. It was like watching a fucking Peter Berg movie. Ugh. (I DO like Peter Berg, but he overuses Shaky Cam)