Last weekend I was out with a friend to see a film at the cinema and an obligatory pint afterwards. It has become a ritual with a few university and sixth form friends that we have to meet up every 3-6 months and catch up over some beverage. That in itself is a subject all in itself, but today I would like to sing praises about a film I saw last week: The Hunger Games, which is a ‘Young Adult’ (I don’t qualify as YA by the way) piece of fiction based on a book, and book series of the same name by one Suzanne Collins, who had the esteem of working on a few children’s shows between the 1990s and 2000s.
As far as popular book/franchise fictions go, this has quite a favourable response from me. I haven’t (yet) read the books, but it has led to a lot of people in the meme generating world to go all hipster and say how lots of people read the books before it was cool, or also go hipster and say ‘they preferred the book’ &c. I’m a Johnny-come-lately and a casual film goer and as far as my fandom goes I am striclty a star wars/RPG type of person so I’m definately not informed about The Hunger Games.
The things I really liked about the film are as follows:
- Lenny Kravitz plays an effete yet sympathetic stylist. Nuff said
- The protagonist is female, and very strong, assertive, self-determined and also has a caring dimension too.
- Female protagonists are pretty rare, and it’s great that she isn’t defined by how she likes boys or the typical trivialisation about women. There is a relationship storyline, but she is in some respects a reluctant party and her participation in it is nuanced and complicated (something that also promises for plotline in the sequels)
- There is a distinct ‘political’ message about the book, what it is exactly I am still not sure about. I think the story gives a picture of a totalitarian world but also combined with the contemporary fascination with global media and the voyeuristic nature of how people feed of tragedies or personal problems. Consider for instance the fascination with natural disasters, violent crimes, or even the way how people in game shows/televisual competition shows like ‘The Apprentice’ or ‘X Factor’ give sob stories about how it was their dying aunt’s dream that such-and-such a competitor sung whitney houston on live television.
- The film would pass the Bechdel Test. You would be surprised how many films don’t.
- I’m an action hero fan by heart and that probably won’t ever change, and the film definately had a lot of violence in it for gruesome violence voyeurs like me. Much of the violence wasn’t actually shown but more insinuated (after all, it is a film about children killing each other). The use of suggestion instead of actually showing violence is very dramatic, and for a younger audience to watch a film like this, gives a great amount of shock and disgust to the audience. A film like this is probably more adult than a crappy rom-com rated higher than this in terms of the disturbing themes.
I have become quite discerning about what I call a good film and this is one of them*. The Hunger Games has been the best recent film that I’ve seen since Inception. Bravo to Lionsgate (who are better known for their lowbrow action films) for making such a bold decision to make a teenager-oriented film, and for giving teenagers something more interesting than Twilight and Harry Potter. I kind of wish I had something that cool when I was a teenager.
Lemma*: There are by contrast, films I enjoy watching over and over again that fail to be good films, such as Harold and Kumar go to White Castle, Commando, Crank 2, The Expendables (only for that AA-12 shotgun scene) or Revenge of the Sith.