Almost six years ago I devised a system by which I could estimate if I would like a movie or not.
The Patented DrFaulken Movie Prediction System™
For those of you who haven’t been to a movie in the theater with me yet, I have a very trusted and accurate system for judging if the film will be good or not. I follow the previews before the film. I award one point for a good trailer. I deduct one point for a trailer for a movie that I wouldn’t want to see, or runs counter to the movie’s genre. For example, if there was a romantic comedy trailer right before an action film, I’d give the movie a -1, even if the romantic comedy trailer seemed good.
So, what was the result for the Hunger Games?
There were seven trailers. Yes, seven trailers. It’s no secret the Hunger Games were a popular book series, and movie studios were quick to attach their summertime hopefuls.
- The Avengers. This movie looks awesome. Obvious +1.
- Prometheus. The non-prequel prequel to the Alien series seems to be a stick dynamite wrapped in C4 shoved into a powder keg. +1.
- Snow White and the Huntsman. I had no idea this movie was coming out. The art direction and theme seems right up my alley, and Thor / Avengers star Chris Hemsworth should be great as Snow White’s right hand huntsman. +1.
- Dark Shadows. The upcoming Johnny Depp movie about a vampire out of time seems cute, but probably a little too campy for my tastes. Slapstick trailer before a post-apocalyptic movie? -1.
- Twilight. I have to stop typing and move on to the next trailer because I am just going to puke. -1.
- Amazing Spider-Man. Please stop making Spider-Man movies for awhile. If you absolutely must make one, then please don’t reboot the origin story again. +1? Maybe I was a little pumped after the first three trailers I gave this one a positive? Whoops!
- What To Expect When You’re Expecting. This is a movie about stay at home dads. What. The. Fuck. -1.
The verdict: +1
Barely. Which pretty much sums up how much I liked Hunger Games. I really enjoyed the trilogy, and thought it made a good statement about the manipulation of heroic figures by the media. The longer the series go, the more evident it becomes that there aren’t any “good guys,” and I think that the first book sets the stage for this overall message.
Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t address much of the storyline necessary to establish this theme. It also blunts much of the supporting characters, such as Cinna, Haymitch, and Gail.
From a casting perspective, they got just about everything wrong. Katniss does not look nor act like a tired, hungry, desperate girl who starves herself and risks death so that her sister and mother can eat. Woody Harrelson is normally one of my favorite actors, but he played an entirely too handsome and upbeat Haymitch, who was so odious in the book that people could not stand to be in his presence.
Peeta hardly looks like he could lift the 100 pound sack of flour he boasted about in the story. He’s entirely too small and weak looking. While the book makes a point of stating he’s softer than the other children, it’s because his family could feed him regularly.
Lastly, the film’s PG-13 rating was a good indicator that the entire story was going to be sanitized, Hollywood-style. Some of the most poignant moments of the story occur right before, during, or after intense periods of violence. Rue’s death in the book is far more brutal, which makes her burial by Katniss more merciful, and Thresh’s brutal revenge and sparing of Katniss more believable.
The movie was a good action flick, and if you haven’t read the books you will probably enjoy it more than I did. I think by removing the underlying themes of the book, the Hunger Games movie is just a much, much weaker version of Battle Royale.
And to that end, it’s an enjoyable movie. Barely.