Monday, November 14, 2011

"Hunger Games" looks like... a movie... I guess...

"Hunger Games" - which is basically a U.S./European version of "Battle Royale," which was in turn a Japanese-schoolchildren version of "The Running Man," which was in turn a Reaganomics-era "Rollerball" - now has a trailer, embedded below.

Pro-tip: You do NOT want to be eating or drinking anything around the 1:53 mark...

Seriously; what the FUCK is up with Wes Bentley's beard??

Okay, so I'm the LAST possible person who should be giving anything but the benefit of the doubt to adaptations of niche properties with fiercely-devoted fans; but while I'm sure the various flashes of characters, names, banners, logos, outfits, distinguishing-hairstyles etc. is all "ooh! it's _______!" for HG fans... I'm sorry, this looks pretty underwhelming as a movie. ::ducks::

I've not yet read the series myself, so I don't know whether to blame the material or filmmakers first for this. Are the descriptions of the "futuristic" society in the book ALSO as bland, cheap and "generic dystopia" as they appear here?

This is, of course, another adaptation greenlit largely because someone has mistaken a passionate online fanbase (which means deceptively-MASSIVE traffic numbers) for genuine overall interest... the books sell well, but not "Twilight" or "DaVinci Code" well. Sometimes that kind of thinking works out - in the greater-good "a great movie gets made" sense, certainly not in the financial sense - and we get a "Scott Pilgrim" or a "Watchmen" out of the deal. This does not (so far) look like one of those times.


Pat said...

*shrug* I haven't read the books, but I think it looks cool. I don't mind if a premise has been done before. I only care if it's done well and has interesting characters, which this seems to do.

I'm not sure how the general "think of the children" crazy people will feel about the premise of forcing teenagers to fight to the death, but that will probably only serve to give the film more public buzz and perhaps open doors for that Ender's Game adaptation that's been stuck in production hell for decades.

Lido said...

I couldn't agree more Bob, this entire trailer just looks generic and uninteresting with very lack luster set design and unimpressive acting and story. There was a Stephen King book published a few years ago with a similar premise, that a town is placed under a giant dome and the citizens forced to battle each other with the severed limbs of their neighbors, that sounds like it would've made about 5X the film we're seeing here, the books called "The Dome"

Ryan said...

I will watch Mystique in anything.

Anonymous said...

It's waaaay too similar to Battle Royale for me. I'm not saying that Battle Royale was not influenced itself by the concept of killing as a sport, but the way in which it was orchestrated (school children) and the meaning behind it was pretty original. I haven't read the books myself, but people have told me that they are completely derivative of Battle Royale.

Mr. Cactus said...

Can anyone who has read the Hunger Games give me a heads up? I've heard good things about the books from a couple of sources, but never really looked into them.

Do the books explain how the world got into the state it's in and why the Hunger Games happen?

In Battle Royale, it felt like the concept of the eponymous battle didn't flow from the setting. It seemed like a flimsy reason to get all the kids on an island fighting.

Does Hunger Games suffer from a similarly iffy feeling justification?

Pat said...

@Mr. Cactus

My understanding is that the society uses the Hunger Games as a means of entertainment for the rich and powerful and a method of fear and control for the poor and weak. I think it was created as a means of punishment for an attempted rebellion.

I dunno, this is entirely based on bits and pieces I've picked up from my friends who love it.

David (The Pants) said...

Does anybody who's read these books read this blog? I haven't seen their input yet!

Maniacal Fox said...

@Mr. Cactus

To put it simply, Hunger Gaames was a pretty good standalone book.

Catching Fire was like the Back to the Future Part 2 of the series.

And Mockinjay was like the Shrek 3 of the series.

smile said...

Looks like garbage and a good sign of what to expect in the Akira remake.

Daniel R said...

Having read the series and having loved the first entry I feel kind of disappointed and actually slightly angered.

Since I'm really tired right now and can't be bothered to properly complain in paragraph form I'll just post my problems in point form...

- The fact that you really wouldn't bat an eye at any of these people walking down the street (save Wes Bentley's beard) really isn't working.
The books are set in a dystopian future where North America is divided into 13 incredibly poor districts in which society has regressed to the point where trading has all but replaced any unified currency and one lavishly rich Capital populated by the vapid and wealthy who tattoo, dye, or surgically alter their bodies in a grotesque display of fashion.

The costume design should reflect this. Yes, Bentley's beard does look odd but for Christ's sake the book goes on and on about people with whiskers, talons, and rainbow-colored skin tones.

So far (at least in my opinion) every single design choice has been bland and boring.

- Small gripe.
Jennifer Lawrence is a fine actress and I thought she did a splendid job as Mystique in First Class but to me it feels as though this was a wasted opportunity. As I recall the book describes Katniss (I know, stupid name) as having a slightly darker shade of skin ('Olive-skinned' according to the book). Considering there really aren't that many Sci-fi franchises with minority leads this could have been a chance to bring in some much needed diversity.

But hey, thats Hollywood for you.

- Considering this film NEEDS the PG 13 rating in order to have even a small chance to make its money back its pretty obvious that it'll play it safe when it comes to violence and sexual implications.
Bad idea in my opinion. The book isn't really THAT violent or THAT sensual but it does hold some key moments that I just don't think will work in a PG-13 film.
Not saying it needs to be R, but I think the PG-13 rating restricts way too much for the film to properly convey several serious implications and tones present in the book.
This is one of those times when I wonder why the US won't make a PG-15 rating like down here in Mexico. I think it would give the film a lot more space to breath and properly tell its story.

- Finally;
Taking into account the melodramatic narration and the grandiose editing I gather that the film wants me to think its BIG and EPIC.
Then we get a glimpse at the arena. The place where the majority of the film will be set. The place where the tributes will fight each other for the right to survive. The place where our protagonists will decide their fate.
That place is... a simple, humdrum field.

In all seriousness. I realize that these are all stupid complaints about a movie that I really shouldn't be so quick to judge. I perfectly comprehend that I sound like an entitled and whiny fan who really should grow up and keep an open mind about this. I know its just the first trailer and I should give it the benefit of the doubt- blah blah blah.
I know.

Take this post for what it is, an immature teenager venting about stupid details in a stupid movie based on a stupid book that everyone will probably forget about in a year or two.

If you actually did read this entire post well... Thank you, and I hope you have enjoyed reading this overly-long and overly-melodramatic comment.

vamast said...

i just realized, the trailer shows submission and becoming no 1, but in battle royal they said they would keep on running till they cant anymore.... mainstream acceptance subliminal message rather then ro ro, fight da powa?

The Dude said...

I haven't read the books so I was wondering a few things.

1)Why do they use kids? In Battle Royale, they explain that the adults feared the youth and used the Battle Royale to keep them scared and in line. Is it the same basic idea?

2)Do the districts get anything if their kid wins, and why can only one get out if each district sends 2? If both survive does one have to kill the other? (did I just ruin the ending?)

3)Why is it randomly chosen who goes to the Hunger Games? Wouldn't it be in the district's best interest if they got 2 kids from birth each year and trained them until they were 18?

I have no idea if this is going to be a good movie, but after Battle Royale (and especially the manga), I'm so emotionally drained on this premise that I can't imagine sitting through another one.

Dustin Hiser said...

I know next to nothing about the books and I haven't really been following the making of the movie, but honestly, that wasn't a bad trailer. I like that it looks like they summarized act I and then left you hanging. For a movie that wasn't on my radar, I'd say it did its job as a piece of entertainment.

Dustin Hiser said...

Advertising, not entertainment. Woo.

Pat said...

@The Dude

My understanding (keep in mind, I haven't read them, I've just heard a good deal about them) is that:

1) They use kids in order to keep the masses afraid. "Don't fuck with us because we aren't above killing children."

2) I think the winning district (other than not having to watch BOTH of their children die since I think it's mandatory viewing for all citizens) gets extra rations or something like that. Nothing special.

3) I don't think it has to be random, it's just that no one volunteers so they HAVE to draw lottery. If they decided to train kids (and I think some districts do), then they still wouldn't want them to volunteer until they were 18, which wouldn't solve the problem, at least not until they set up a buffer of trained competitors to choose from every year.

Elessar said...

As for being a battle royale ripoff:

Eh, Battle Royale could be considered to be a ripoff of And Then There Were None (also known as 'That Book Where I Love to Remind People of it's Original Title). Mr. Campbell would remind us that everything is ripoff of everything, it's the details that are important.

As for the trailer:

...Meh. It could be worse, could be better. Looks a tiny bit unfinished, but that could be just me. Someone call me when Tamora Pierce (preferrably The Immortals) ends up on the 'Adaptation' block. Or do I have to do that myself?

Pat said...


Sorry to say, it's unlikely that Tammy's work will ever see a film adaptation, mostly because if a production company wanted to buy the rights to the Immortals, they would probably have to also secure the movie rights to all of the other Tortall books from the assorted publishing houses that own the rights, which would be a huge investment in a series that, while modestly popular, certainly wouldn't be a guaranteed success as a film. Additionally, if they did buy the rights and then a film based on "Wild Magic" failed financially, then the studio would probably stop making them and then hold on to the movie rights indefinitely until they expired, cock-blocking any other attempts to make other Tortall-related films.

That being said, if you ever become incredibly wealthy and can afford to dump millions of dollars into producing films based on the Tortall series, regardless of financial risk, I'd applaud your efforts.

Jason said...

Looks about how I expected it would. As mentioned above it's disappointing not to see more of the grotesque, over the top body art/clothing, the books had a nice riff on the fashion scene, the movie seems to be moving away from that.

To answer your question Bob the city doesn't get a huge amount in the way of description, so I suppose the people making it decided it was a good place to skimp (fair enough too, considering most of the action goes on in the dome).

Overall it looks ok, but unfortunately the artistic direction does seem very bland which means the movie loses value to me as an adaptation; one of the few legitimate reasons to make this as a film would be that the Capitol people would work much better on screen than they do in print.

Anonymous said...


You are right that everything takes influence, and that details are important, but in this case, there are many details that are too similar. As I stated previously, Battle Royale puts a really unique twist on the concept of killing as a sport, put out by the Most Dangerous Game. The original novel was quite allegorical, with a prominent theme being the fear of youth, a very common theme in Japanese media, like Akira. Battle Royale is also LOADED with controversy, and can be seen as Japan's "A Clockwork Orange". It's dared to do something unseen in its culture. Battle Royale adds an original implementation to an old idea, whereas the Hunger Games repeats the same process poorly, making it no longer original.


I agree. Battle Royale is very interesting in the fact that the children are the ones with the power/potential in a society with a totalitarian government. They fear children, and ultimately, the blows against it are dealt by children.

JM said...

@ Pat

Two of the districts do have a culture that encourages training and volunteering for the games. Those participants are referred to as tributes, and they're considered sell-outs, basically. The idea is that they ignore the politics of it and just revel in the glory they might get from winning.

Anonymous said...

I'm a huge fan of the books, I think they are beyond reproach. And I'm hugely dissapointed with the male geek (in general not you guys specifically) inability to embrace this book.

Seriously, if the authors name was something rugged and russian sounding like "Sochov Stravoski" instead of Suzanne Collins and instead of being marketed as young adult the books were marketed as scifi this would be worshipped by male geeks right now instead of predominantly female fanbase.

I'm saying men are too chicken to pick up a book that they see as too feminine, another Twilight, and that saddens me.

JM said...

Argh. Careers, I meant. Not tributes.

yoladdy said...

trust me, there is a lot of fighting the power in The Hunger Games! I think the movie looks awesome, personally!

Anonymous said...

@The Dude

I did read the books.

1) The kids are tributes from the Districts to the Capitol. It's a sort of punishment for a rebellion that took place 75 years ago. All Districts citizens are forced to watch the Hunger Games to see their children die so they realize how powerless they are against the Capitol. Watching is not mandatory for Capitol citizens, they just do it for fun.

2) The District of the winner gets extra food for one year. Since at most of the Districts people literally starve to death, winners become heroes for their Districts.

3) "Officially" it's random. Actually, sometimes the Capitol messes with the lottery to create expectation (as in picking the kid of a previous Games survivor) so they can make more money off it. Kids cannot bail if they're picked (their families would be killed or worse by the Capitol) but if someone else elegible volunteers, that someone can take the place of the picked one (that's what the main character does to spare her little sister).
Most Districts are too poor to train for the Games but rich Districts (1 and 2) do, and then volunteer for the glory of it. They're called the "Careers" (usually the winner is one of them).

That being said, I enjoyed the trailer but I think it's mainly aimed at readers and fans. I don't think people not familiar with the trilogy can get exactly what is all about.

Emma said...

seriously guys you should read the books! awesooooooome!