Let’s get a couple of things out of the way about me. First, I haven’t read the Hunger Games books. I never even heard of them until the movie started casting and the media made a big deal about it. Second, I am not a teenage girl. Third, I did see the first Twilight movie out of curiosity and haven’t watched any since. It was clearly not for me.
Hunger Games is not Twilight
I did not get the feeling throughout this movie that it was targeted specifically to a teenage girl mentality. Because it’s set in a fictional dystopian future, it lacks the usual “teenage angst” crap where high school is supposed to be the center of the universe. The angst the characters here feel is real. It’s about having food to eat and just surviving to the next day.
It’s directed like an adult movie. I do think the director relied heavily on close-ups maybe a tad too much. He also is clearly not an “action film” director. But, there’s plenty of suspense.
I liked Jennifer Lawrence in her Academy-Award nominated Winter’s Bone performance. I like her here. She’s convincing as someone who grew up in an impoverished place, just as she was in that other movie. She also defies most stereotype of a “kick-ass” heroine. Readers of the book may have different visions of who they thought the role should go to. It’s a really good character and I understand why she's gained such a following. Her skills and wits don’t come off as outlandish in the way so many “bad ass” movie chicks do. She's very identifiable.
Josh Hutcherson was okay as her partner in the Games and love interest. The other guy in her life--played by Liam Hemsworth--wasn’t in that much of the movie. I found him to be dull and not convincing at all. He looked like he stepped out of a Hollywood gym or Ambercrombie & Fitch ad and threw on some grungy clothes.
I saw the movie at an advanced screening and not the midnight showing. The crowd was probably not demographically the same as at a paid showing. I heard one of the chicks on the way out saying they expected more romance. I say “hooray”. To me, the romance was underplayed compared to my expectations of material that is popular with teen girls. It’s key to the plot, but it doesn’t overwhelm the other elements that make the film interesting. It also doesn't pander to the young teen girl demo.
As a person who loves the media, I really had fun with the Games themselves being portrayed as kind of a futuristic “Survivor”.
I’ll give this a 90 out of 100.
To finish off, I should say who may NOT like it. Well, if you like Michael Bay movies, you won’t like this. It’s not noisy or dizzying. If you like your violence super-graphic or even fetishistic, you’ll find the violence here too underplayed for your taste. There is violence, but it isn’t as extreme as it could be for the material.
The fight scenes are also not super-articulated. They basically happen in a blur and you can't see much of what's going on. If you like fight movies, you might not find the fights here satisfying.
For me, I’ll probably see the next one.