Posts Tagged ‘The Hunger Games’

Box Office Hell — May 11

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Our Players|Coming Soon|Box Office Prophets|Box Office Guru|EW|Box Office . com
Marvel’s The Avengers |97.5|87.5|98.0|100.0|111.0
Dark Shadows |38.5|34.8|38.0|35.0|33.0
Think Like a Man|4.5|4.3|4.5|4.7|5.0
The Hunger Games |3.1|3.7|3.5|3.8|4.0
The Pirates! Band of Misfits|3.0|3.5|n/a|3.7|3.7

Box Office Hell — May 4

Friday, May 4th, 2012

Our Players|Coming Soon|Box Office Prophets|Box Office Guru|EW|Box Office . com
Marvel’s The Avengers |158.0|171.8|155.0|160.0|170.0
Think Like a Man |9.0|10.3|10.0|9.0|9.0
The Pirates! Band of Misfits|6.7|7.4|6.5|6.5|6.3
The Hunger Games |6.0|7.1|7.5|7.0|6.5
The Five Year Engagement|5.6|6.4|n/a|6.0|5.7

Box Office Hell — April 20

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Our Players|Coming Soon|Box Office Prophets|Box Office Guru|EW|Box Office . com
The Lucky One |n/a|15.2|17.0|16.5|21.0
Think Like a Man |n/a|9.4|17.0|19.0|24.0
The Hunger Games |n/a|13.6|13.0|13.0|13.0
Titanic in 3-D|n/a|7.9|n/a|n/a|7.7

Box Office Hell – April 13

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Our Players|Coming Soon|Box Office Prophets|Box Office Guru|EW|Box Office . com
The Hunger Games |18.0|19.8|18.0|20.0|19.5
The Three Stooges |15.6|9.5|11.0|12.0|13.5
The Cabin in the Woods |14.2|16.7|15.0|15.0|14.5
American Reunion|11.5|11.4|11.0|10.0|11.7
Titanic in 3-D|8.5|10.3|10.0|11.0|11.8

Box Office Hell — April 6

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Our Players|Coming Soon|Box Office Prophets|Box Office Guru|EW|Box Office . com
American Reunion |32.5|21.3|24.0|29.5|n/a
The Hunger Games |29.5|30.3|30.0|30.0|n/a
Titanic in 3-D|26.5|28.2|25.0|22.0|n/a
Wrath of the Titans|14.7|14.4|16.0|14.5|n/a
Mirror Mirror |10.0|10.6|11.0|11.0|n/a

Box Office Hell — March 29

Friday, March 30th, 2012

Our Players|Coming Soon|Box Office Prophets|Box Office Guru|EW|Box Office . com
The Hunger Games |64.5|76.8|69.0|70.0|72.0
Wrath of the Titans|40.8|35.8|36.0|36.0|37.5
Mirror Mirror |24.8|18.3|20.0|27.0|24.0
21 Jump Street|12.3|12.4|12.0|13.0|11.8
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax |8.0|7.7|7.0|7.5|7.8

Link-bait Optimizer The Atlantic Tubthumps For Hunger Games Best Pictures Oscar

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Link-bait Optimizer The Atlantic Tubthumps For Hunger Games Best Pictures Oscar

Weekend Estimates: March 25, 2012

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

The Hunger Games|153.6 (37,130)|NEW|153.6
21 Jump Street|20.4 (6,550)|-44%|70.2
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax|13.0 (3,540)|-43%|177.3
John Carter|5.0 (1,570)|-63%|62.4
Act of Valor|2.0 (910)|-46%|65.9
A Thousand Words|1.9 (1,050)|-40%|14.9
Project X|1.9 (920)|-53%|51.7
Safe House|1.4 (1,020)|-50%|122.5
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island|1.3 (1,000)|-44%|97.1
Casa de mi Padre|1.0 (2,170)|-55%|3.9

Review: The Hunger Games

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Fans of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy should be absolutely thrilled with this faithful adaptation of the first book of the series, directed by multiple Oscar-nominee Gary Ross and starring Jennifer Lawrence — in a role that is, in many ways, not terribly far removed from her role as Ree in Winter’s Bone, for which she garnered an Oscar nom for best actress. In both stories, we have a young girl who’s been forced by life circumstance to grow up too soon, with the responsibility of keeping a younger sibling alive thrust upon her by a weak, incompetent parent. And in both stories, we have a strong female lead who has no choice but to go on a dangerous journey, a daunting mission at which she stands little chance of succeeding, while having to outsmart ruthless people who would hurt or kill her. It’s a hero story, a journey story, a coming-of-age story, all wrapped up in a political and social allegory that’s, sadly, very relevant for the times in which we find ourselves living. And as executed here, it’s completely riveting and engaging.

The Hunger Games is set in a post-apocalyptic America, reinvented out of the ashes of devastation as Panem. There is a benevolent-but-also-evil dictatorship, a “Dear Leader” of sorts in the form of Donald Sutherland as President Snow, and a Capitol that controls everything (and whose citizens revel in a life of luxury, fine foods and fashion courtesy of the work of the citizens of the outlying Districts). There are 12 Districts, each of which is responsible for producing goods for a singular area. You’ve got your districts for Agriculture, Luxury Items, Fishing, Technology … and then there’s District 12, Coal, the poorest and most remote of the districts (its geographical area is somewhere in Appalachia). At some point, we learn through some relatively brief exposition, there was rebellion amongst the districts, a little class warfare, as it were. One might even say, an uprising of the 99% of this fictitious world; but that uprising was shot down when the Capitol ruthlessly brought the 12 districts in line, and completely obliterated the 13th along with all its citizenry, as an example of what happens when you rebel against Donald Sutherland.

But people are slow to learn and quick to forget, and so the Capitol came up with this fabulous idea to keep the boot-heel of the Capitol firmly on the throats of its citizenry: The Hunger Games, a yearly ritual in which each district, in a Lottery-inspired ceremony called The Reaping, must offer up one boy and one girl between the ages of 12-18 as “Tributes,” who are then forced to battle to the death until only one is left. It’s quite an honor. To make things even more sadistic, young people are “allowed” to put their name in the lottery draw more times in exchange for a year’s supply of grain and oil for themselves and family members. It’s a gamble: a year’s supply of grain to keep you from starving to death, in exchange for an increased possibility of almost certain death in the Hunger Games arena. And of course, it’s the poorer segments of the populace who must put themselves at greater risk by signing up for this little bonus, and the children of the Capitol are immune from the Reaping and see it all as a fun game (you know, kind of like how almost no one in Congress actually has children of their own fighting in the wars that they like to declare on other countries).

Box Office Hell — March 22

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Our Players|Coming Soon|Box Office Prophets|Box Office Guru|EW|Box Office . com
The Hunger Games |124.8|133.4|125.0|130.0|125.0
21 Jump Street|19.5|19.8|20.0|20.0|21.0
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax |12.5|12.3|13.5|13.0|14.0
John Carter |6.0|5.7|7.0|7.0|7.0
One Thousand Words|2.0|2.1|n/a|2.0|2.1

Critics Roundup – March 22

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

The Hunger Games |Yellow||Green|Green|
The Raid: Redemption |||Green||
The Deep Blue Sea (NY, LA) |Yellow||Green||
Musical Chairs (NY) |||Green||
October Baby |||Red||
Free Men |Green||||

Review: The Hunger Games

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

“What do you think the Devil is going to look like if he’s around? Nobody is going to be taken in if he has a long, red, pointy tail. No. I’m semi-serious here. He will look attractive and he will be nice and helpful and he will get a job where he influences a great God-fearing nation and he will never do an evil thing… he will just bit by little bit lower standards where they are important.”

This quote, from Broadcast News, is always reliable. Written by Jim Brooks, spoken by Albert Brooks (no relation), it is one of the movie world’s clearest statements about lowering the bar gently, even enjoyably, until we all live in Hell.

And so goes The Hunger Games. The film is loaded with actors who are undeniably likeable and gifted. The concept is very compelling. The adapted/director has glossy skills behind the camera and a gift of dialogue.

So why is the movie like eating the white of a hard boiled egg with no salt, pepper, or any other flavor except “white?”

Simply, it does not have the courage of its conceit. Not for a minute.

The movie is about a nation that went through a rebellion 80 years before this story and a fascistic government which after putting down the rebellion, keeps down the 12 rebellious districts as best they can. One tool is The Hunger Games, an annual contest that selects 2 children from each rebel district to battle in a only-one-survivor show. 24 kids. 23 will die.

Katniss, played by budding superstar Jennifer Lawrence, has a little sister who has just come of Hunger Game age and a broken mother who has been unreliable since her father’s death. Katniss volunteers after her little sister is picked. There is also an insanely pretty guy she is attracted to who stays home after he is not selected for the games. (Saving him for Movie 2, I bet!)

Katniss is of the earth. She is tough. She is smart. And she is honorable.

That’s one character you know.

Josh Hutcherson plays Peeta, whose name is pronounced “Peter” through most of the movie until Katniss screams it correctly, making her sound like she’s in a community theater production of Fried Green Tomatoes: The Stage Show. He’s a bit of a cypher because we are not supposed to know if he is playing Katniss or digging Katniss.

That’s two characters you almost know.

And that is about all you will ever get. There is a crazy evil blond boy, who gets one line of character dialogue in the third act. And as is needed in any “meaningful” movie with 3 blacks in its entire cast, there is The Magic Negro, in this case embodied by an absolutely beautiful 13-year-old who looks to be about 8 years old. The character is named Rue. She appears from nowhere to innocently help our hero, breath purity into the proceedings and (don’t feel like spoiler warning the obvious). There is one other kid from the same District 11 as Rue… the only other black kid in the games. (Enter extreme segregation eyeroll here.)

What does it tell you when the movie’s website lists FIVE of the kids forced to play in the games listed in its “Full Cast List” section? There’s Katniss, The Boy, The Evil Kid, The Angelic Little Black Girl, and the Crazy Knife-Wielding Brunette Girl *(who is essentially the smart-ass version of the guy with the big knife in Raiders). That’s five of twenty-four, almost all of whom will be murdered by other under-18s. I found 8 more with character names on imdb and another 6 with non-descript character names “District Girl/Boy #.” So I am still missing five murdered characters.

The thing is… if your premise is forcing 24 teens and pre-teens to murder one another in a few days, shouldn’t your movie be emotionally invested in that idea? Isn’t that an idea that not only demands focus, but must be shown respect, lest you turn mass murder into something even less weighty than deaths in a first-person shooter videogame?

Do I think that Hunger Games is going to set some kid or kids off on a rampage or keep them from crying when someone they love dies? No. But will a slaughter in a foreign nation mean anything more to them after seeing this movie? No. Probably less.

Ironically, the Japanese film Battle Royale was all but banned in the United States when it was released a dozen years ago. It never got a theatrical. And it had only cult DVD distribution in this country until this month.

Watching it today, after having seen The Hunger Games and hearing from people who claim the books are not a rip-off of BR, I am not only reminded how much of a clear rip-off this film is (I can’t speak for the future books or movies), but I am saddened by how powerful the emotion – not just the violence – is in BR compared to Hunger Games.

I actually have no problem with a PG-13 version of this material. I get it. Business is business. But BR is almost a textbook of things that could have been done in Hunger Games that would have raised the stakes.

So much of it is nearly identical. There is an evil gamemaster (whose fate in similar in both films… though, of course, unseen in Hunger Games). There is a kitschy cheerleader type laying out the rules. There is a central love story, confused by another relationship. The largest kid is the most skilled, violent, and crazed. Etc.

The numbers in Battle Royale are different… 42 kids, not 24. All the kids are one high school class, not strangers from 12 districts. So it is a bit easier and there are more opportunities to get into ideas connected to specific characters before they die. For instance, there are multiple groups refusing to play the game as it is presented. One pair commits suicide rather than play. Another pair of tries to broker cooperation between all the kids. Another group, all girlfriends, decides to ride it out in a safe space and to try not to kill or be killed… at least until the time is running out. I value all three of these ideas, but I am not saying that Hunger Games had to directly reflect BR. Honorable suicide is cultural touchstone in Japan and not so much here. But these are real ideas… as active in concept as Hunger Games is purely reactive.

Also worth noting, in a film with a running time under 2 hours, BR manages to introduced every single kid and to note their demise at least twice.

As for simple guts, as an action tale, you need look no further than the start of the game. Katniss is warned, “If you jump off the starting pedestal a second early, they’ll blow you to high heaven.” (paraphrased) And then, the film proceeds NOT to have anyone jump early. That’s the kind of movie this is. There is a lot of talk about how deadly everything and everyone is… but they seem intent on keeping a movie about a mass murder event safe for a 12-year-old to see three times. So no one gets “blown to high heaven” for jumping early, thus mitigating the danger from the game itself.

Conversely, before the game even starts in BR, the guy in charge of the game kills a girl with a knife thrown into her forehead for whispering to others after she was told not to and there is a neck-splosion from the control necklaces each kid wears. These kids are terrified and they immediately know that the stakes are death and that death is real.

Another Hunger Games cheat – maybe from the book – is that instead of letting the kids fight a fair fight, the “gamemaster” adds all kinds of weird, badly CGed elements… like flame balls to push characters out of an area or CG monster dogs that are not only badly done, but, as so many things in this film do, distracts from the core idea of the story… kids forced to kill kids.

This is not a Paul Verhoeven movie or something that is aggressively satiric, like Series 7: The Contenders, made for adults, somewhat cartoonish, and poking us in our collective face with our lack of sensitivity. This is a movie made primarily for kids. Between 7 and 12 million kids under 18 will likely see this movie this weekend. What are we telling them when only two or three of the twentysomething kills has any attempt to make an emotional connection?

Is the movie entertaining, aside from my social concerns? Modestly.

The greatest failure within the narrow context of the film itself is the misuse of Woody Harrelson, Toby Jones, Elizabeth Banks, and Stanley Tucci, who gets most of his character work done by slapping in some giant teeth and smiling in a genuinely creepy, funny, and showbiz -familiar way. They hired some of the great scene stealers of the era… and get a couple laughs out of each. it’s almost as though they just didn’t want to go there… even though they trussed up the audience like the crowd that dances The Time Warp in The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Second is the failure to force or allow Katniss to ever have to seriously confront her own morality. She doesn’t kill for quite a long time and then, only when reacting to an attack. Our hero, basically, ends up behaving like every action movie sidekick that ends up taking care of business at the last second when the hero gets in trouble and the coward has no choice but to act. Twice.

Third is the abandonment of any strategic thinking that involves more than one step. This movie is checkers, not chess. Act, react, reset for the next scene. Oy.

Fourth is the irritating cutting that has never been seen in a Gary Ross film before. Someone needs some Ritalin. This is cutting that doesn’t push story forward… it’s just style. Bad style.

I’m sure there are more – wasting Donald Sutherland is almost as much of a sin as Wes Bentley’s stupid facial hair – but I don’t feel like picking the movie apart.

My guess is that most people will “be okay” with Hunger Games. I get that. It moves along and Jennifer is lovely to look at and you’ll never actually be surprised or be forced to care very much. Every emotion is simple and obvious. It’s a much better film, technically, than Twilight. But this film makes me appreciate the high camp of that series. It’s about a bunch of kids so horny that they can’t contain their inner animals. I’d love to see Neil Jordan’s version… it might actually be good. But at least it is what it is, not a faded copy as though the printer was just about out of ink.

No horns. No fire-breathing. No deep offense. Just empty calories.

Finger Wagging

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

All of these sternly worded emails about the Hunger Games screenings in my inbox this week are simultaneously amusing and annoying. You MUST sign a review embargo agreement! You MUST NOT bring your cell phone to the screening! You MUST sign over your first-born son for us to sacrifice to the fickle Box Office Gods (okay, that one I made up, but tell me someone hasn’t thought of that).

Seriously, people. It’s The Hunger Games. A movie. Adapted from a book targeted at the YA market. Not the Ark of the Covenant or a state secret that could potentially threaten national security. Probably the studio spent too much money making it, and yes, they have a lot riding on its financial success. And certainly, some people breaking embargo on films generally has threatened the studios and created these situations that infantilize working press who are just trying to do their jobs, but the studios also feed that, do they not, by creating these situations where they’re sternly wagging a finger at some press, while freely granting embargo breaking to others. Same shit different day, I know. Some days it just grates more than others. And kinda makes me care a lot less about whether I review a particular film or not.

Soderbergh On Shooting A Few Days Of Second Unit For Hunger Games

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Soderbergh On Shooting A Few Days Of Second Unit For Hunger Games

The Hunger Games: Synopsis

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

In a not-too-distant future, North America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war, to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 13 districts. Each year, two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcasted throughout Panem as the 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss’ young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district’s female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart, Peeta, the son of the town baker who seems to have all the fighting skills of a lump of bread dough, will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives.

The Hunger Games Gets A Motion Poster

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Based on the young-adult series by Suzanne Collins.   In the book, the Hunger Games are an annual televised event where the Capitol chooses one boy and one girl from each district to fight to the death.