Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Hunger Games: A View

            I watched this entire movie.  At the end I felt manipulated.  I'd been set up for the sequel.  It wasn't a cliff-hanger.  There was a conclusion, an emotional resolution.  I felt conned, anyway.
            If I see a Harry Potter, it's a given that there's going to be another Harry Potter.  I don't know snarf about this condescending hodge podge called The Hunger Games, except that I'm not going to rent the sequel. 
            Lo and Behold, as I scan the uber-film website Rotten Tomatoes, I see that
there are at least three more Hunger Games films already in the can and awaiting the release date in such fashion as to keep the market sharp.  No overstuffing, no bulimia in these Hunger Games.  The films are scheduled to release one a year, through 2015.
            The Hunger Games books form  a trilogy.  That's natural, that's the way the publishing business works these days.  Write a series: keep them buying the next book.  Keep spinning the story until the Young Adult protagonist gets herpes or joins a cult.  After eighteen years of age, the Young Adult hero/heroine has pubes and periods, and no longer qualifies for the teen discount.
            After watching the film for two minutes I knew that the story called for Revolution, that the Old Order must be destroyed.  Let's get rid of these mincing aristocrats who somehow never get fat in spite of hogging all the food in the world.  Wow, I think. In this future era liposuction has gotten AWESOME!
President Snow and Mr. Funnybeard
            So, in the final scene, the camera lingers on the face of Donald Sutherland, who plays the Benevolent Fuehrer, the grandfatherly President Snow.  He taps his 
lips with his forefinger.  He scowls.  His toady, Mister Funnybeard, had said, vis a vis unforeseen developments in the live-broadcast annual Hunger Game, "Everyone loves an underdog."  President Snow says that he (Mister Funnybeard) wouldn't like the REAL underdog very much if he got close enough to smell his B.O.             
          President Snow sees trouble coming.  The Underdogs are getting restless.  He forces Mister Funnybeard to eat poison berries.  The Beard wasn't tough enough.  Snow needs a bigger nastier villain.  I don't know anything about the books, the plot, the film sequels, NUTHIN'.  But I betcha Mister Funnybeard's replacement is a real gorilla.  My Predictable-Plot-Sensor has sniffed and distilled the corn sucrose and polyethylene glycol in Book One and says, "here she comes in Book Two! A real nasty character!"              
          This movie got critical raves and made tons of money and will continue to bask in its over-ratedness as long as the milk holds out.  Maybe that's because it's filled with such deep philosophical and political observations.  Maybe it has stimulated people to think deep thoughts!
            Here it is: In the not so distant future all the rich people, the one percenters,
have divided the country into twelve districts, with the richest district being, of course, District One, and so forth.  District Twelve is coal mining country, it looks like Appalachia in the 1920's. Freezing, miserable, hungry miners and their families have been so completely intimidated that they send their children to participate in the annual Hunger Games.  It's compulsory but every time a kid enters his or her name into the lottery there's a payoff.  They get a loaf of bread or a flank steak or something like that.  Hence, there are kids whose poverty and family-feeling has driven them to do the name-drop forty or fifty times, or a hundred.  They know that sooner or later their number will be up and they will be called to The Hunger Games.
            The Game is a live televised gladiatorial contest.  There is only one winner.  One survivor.  Two teenagers from each district are turned loose in a giant domed parkland and must hunt one another down.  There are hidden cameras everywhere.   The frog is a camera.  The butterfly is a camera.  The weaponry is strictly medieval. Swords, spears, axes, knives, bows and arrows.  The winner becomes a celebrity and gets all the perks of being a District One Percenter.
            Wow.  Would you let your sixteen year old sign up for this?  You don't have a choice.  Your kid might be irritating as hell right now but that's no way to shut up a teenager.
            The rich kids from Districts One and Two have years of training and are awesome killing machines.  Kids like Kaitness Everdeen, from District Twelve, have grown up in the woods and streams of coal country.  They've learned to trap and hunt to survive.  Kaitness is a wizard with bow and arrow.  She's Bear Grylles, Cody Lundin and Survivor Man Les Stroud dressed like a sixteen year old girl.  Well, she looks more like twenty six but what's one suspended disbelief among so many?
            There you have it, folks.  The Hunger Games.  It's the TV show Survivor with real edged weapons.  Alliances are formed and broken.  Since ultimately you may have to kill your boyfriend to win the game, emotional attachments are thrown all askew.  That's the real cruelty.  You have to stop trusting someone you love.
How heinous!  This crappy system has got to be toppled!  The Revolution will definitely be televised!
            I thought that was going to happen in this movie.  I hadn't reckoned on the sequel, the prequel, the dequel. or the hypnequal.  At the end I just felt ripped off.
            By the way, the movie is dead slow.  Two and a half hours of  Slowwwwww, leavened by five minutes of climactic battle with Cato The District One Killing Machine.
            If Kaitness was so smart, why didn't she recover her preciously limited arrows whenever she shot a squirrel or a pheasant? Stuff like that really bugs me.
            I give this movie one muskrat for the hair dressers and costume people.  They had a hell of a lot of fun.
          Aw, let's give it another half a muskrat for Woody Harrelson doing a great imitation of Woody Harrelson.  The guy's the Nick Nolte of our time.  He's made grunge into a career.

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