Watched Sep 10, 2012
Josh Keown’s review:
“May the odds be ever in your favour.”
-Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) [and about 100 others]
Herein lies yet another diversion from the Found Footage/Mockumentary Project, since I have a short attention span.
It seems this film is credited as being two things; one, a sickly, disgusting, dire love story, ala Twilight, or two, a blatant, disgusting, dire rip-off of Battle Royale. Whilst comparisons between the two were inevitable and sometimes accurate, I’m here to argue that this more than stands up on its own merits.
It’s fair to say I didn’t go in with high expectations. I didn’t want another sappy love story, I would need both a heart and a soul to enjoy those, and unfortunately have neither. I didn’t want to see an American studio take the exact premise of one of my most beloved Japanese films and butcher it. I came out very pleasantly surprised.
Where does one even begin on the cast? With a plethora of established names, as well as plenty of rising stars, this is definitely one of the strong areas of this film. Jennifer Lawrence proves, once again, that she is a force to be reckoned with, and a face we’ll likely be seeing a lot more of in the future. Her performance is strong and memorable, enough to rival even here previous best in Winter’s Bone. Unlike Kirsten Stewart’s Bella, her Katniss has charisma and is likeable.
Beyond her, we have excellent turns from Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci and Elizabeth Banks, and that’s just to name a few. Isabelle Fuhrman was good again, but a real surprise for me was Josh Hutcherson, whom delivered a great performance. My one issue is that beside Lawrence and Hutcherson, many of the characters feel undeveloped, especially when compared to a completely unrelated film like Battle Royale, where a good number of the 41 students are well-developed. It’s almost too much, so that some great talent (namely Sutherland and Jones) are hideously underused.
I can’t fault it aesthetically, everything looked pretty good. From the garishly flamboyant extravagance of the Capitol to the sombre dregs of the districts, I felt invested in this little world for the two hours I spent in it. I can’t comment on how faithful to the novels it is, but I loved it regardless.
One thing that quite surprised me was that it never really held back. Okay, so it’s nowhere near Battle Royale kind of violence, but it was more graphic than I expected. Again, unlike Twilight, where the love story took precedence, the focus is very much on the action here. It never feels sugar-coated either.
My one issue is that some of the special effects were a bit ropey at times, but the amazing costume design more than made up for it. Especially the hair styles. I was thinking maybe Tucci’s hair in red, with Bentley’s beard. That would look smashing.
I’ve never read the books and likely never will (Not enough time, might try to), but I’ll definitely check out the sequels after this one just to see where they take the story. And because J-Lawrence is the bomb.
VERDICT; It’s hardly perfect, but it’s well made and was great fun for me. I’m not going to hate on it just because it could be the next Twilight franchise (with customary wailing, over-obsessed fans). It is what it is, and what it is is pretty great.
4/5 or 8/10
(Sorry for going overboard on the review. And the tags. Again.)