The Hunger Games (redux)

When I first saw this film, I was impressed with the adaptation and reviled the camera work. On re-watch, I haven’t changed my opinion much, though the adaptation didn’t hold up as much as I’d hoped.

Despite some very clever and subtle story that is layered in quickly and lightly, and even expanded (e.g., the control room), what I noticed was how much it relies on unrealized ¬†background from the books. The script writers had a heck of a job trying to shoehorn a ton of world building into the flick. It is also possible that they will take the following three movies to build on aspects and flesh them out. But many of the moments are so rushed that we don’t really get to live them–particularly any of the ceremonies and speeches. They were short in the books as well, but with all the internal view from Katniss, we absorbed more about them. Seeing them for a second time, they feel perfunctory and a little forced, in a plot way not an emotional way.

Some of the conflicts and alliances also get cheated for the lack of background and time. The moments with President Snow are decidedly less creepy at the moment. And the bonding with Rue, significantly less effecting. However, in some ways the relationships with Peta and Gale actually work better for the lack of hand-wringing.

And, of course, the camera work was still one of the most distracting and distancing choices I’ve experienced in a long time in a film. The very fact that I noticed the camera work tells you how distracting it was. The frustrating thing was that a lot of the composition was beautiful, we just never get to appreciate it. With Ross gone at the helm, it remains to be seen what the next director will bring to the story, but they do have a lot to work with in both the source material and the foundation of the first film.

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