Head of the UTG film department and mastermind behind Reasonable Remakes, Justin Proper has brought us another new column. Ladies and gentleman, allow us to introduce you to: How Bad Is It?
Movies are the number one source of entertainment according to a statistic I just made up. Everyone loves going to the movies. It’s a standard date night, and has helped millions of teens awkwardly hold hands in the dark. Movies are a great escape from reality, and help people relieve the stress of their lives. Unfortunately every once in a while a movie gets released that ruins the experience…
This is normally Justin Proper’s column. He is the mastermind behind it, and I love his articles and how he is completely unashamed to take movies to the cleaners. I felt so strongly about this movie, that I needed to take charge of this article. Justin, may this How Bad Is It?! be up to your standards, you Greek God. Now, to the column.
I had no intention of going to a midnight screening of the Hunger Games. My place of business is really awesome and bought a ton of tickets to go, so in a move that is very deviant from my normal personality, I decided to be social and go (and bringing my friend McKenzie along as well). Hanging out with everyone was fun, they are great people, but no matter how much I enjoy hanging out with them, it could not save the Hunger Games from being a completely half-assed movie. And with that, let’s ask the question, How Bad Is It?
So let me get this straight: I loved the books. A LOT. I read all three of them in about 2 weeks, and I am not ashamed to say that. Sure they are written for a young adult audience (my younger sister Abby and my younger brother Max who hates reading loves them), but the story is generally gripping and it’s a great quick read. But the entirety of this film was set up to be significantly inferior from the start. One of the major selling points of the books, at least for me, is the inner conflict that Katniss Everdeen (played by the stunningly beautiful and talented actress Jennifer Lawrence) goes through the entirety of the books. Getting in her head is one of the best parts of the books, and in the film adaptation Katniss become a very flat character, and while her motivations are clear, I honestly didn’t see any real significant change from the beginning of the movie to the end (with the exception of warming up to the kid from Zathura). Plot wise, the movie was very thin just going from point a to point b without any real substance. I didn’t care too much when characters died off. One of the big deaths was not properly fleshed out at all, and when he or she died the only people upset in the theater were the one’s who read the book and actually understood the backstory behind the character. I’m curious to hear the perspective of someone who hadn’t read the books because I want to know solely what they thought of the characters. I’m a little biased from reading the books so I know all their back stories and why they’re important, but going off solely from what the movie told us (which is nothing) I wouldn’t have cared at all when they killed off children.
The dialogue was horrible. Awful, dry, forced, awkward, and made me cringe numerous amounts of times. The writer of this film did the actors and actresses absolutely no favors. And yes, some of the dialogue is taken directly from the book. But honestly, reading sounds different than hearing it spoken aloud, and listening to these characters talk was like listening to someone say a bigoted comment in public. It’s awkward, it hurts, but you can’t stop listening. There were points during the movie where I busted out laughing because Peeta (who was the main culprit of this) delivered a line of sorts that made me want to die on the inside over how awful it sounded. People in the rows next to me would look at me all disapprovingly, but I couldn’t contain myself. It was just too bad. The only person I found mildly interesting within this movie was Stanley Tucci, and even then he’s barely in the movie. The dialogue made me so sad, and if there was one major thing holding this movie back I’d probably say this would be it, because without the awkwardness a lot of other things would have gone unnoticed.
From a filmmaking perspective, there were countless things wrong with this movie. For starters, we’re not watching the Bourne Identity, we’re not watching Cloverfield, we’re watching the Hunger Games. Does every single shot need to be handheld? No. Suzanne Collins created a world that was rarely ever shown in its expansiveness, and when it was, it looked horrible due to shoddy CGI and half assed attempts to make the Capital look like Naboo (this is not a good thing). The shots from the beginning and what district 11 looked like seemed to be good, but it cut way too fast and shook too much for me to be able to actually concentrate on the atmosphere and the production design. Don’t get me wrong, Cloverfield and other shaky camera movies are some of my favorites. But this is not the kind of movie that needs it. We all know that The Hunger Games was going to get its sequel treatment, it was inevitable. So why wouldn’t you take the time to create the world, immerse us, and make the viewer feel apart of this world so you actually care about the people who inhabit it? There were also points throughout the film where the camera angles would change, and the color filters would change with it. Some of the people I was with didn’t notice it, but it was honestly just sloppy filmmaking. Take the time to set up your shots so you don’t look like some scrub who got his or her first camera and is just willy nilly making a film. You have a final budget of around $100 Million, and the fact is you can’t hire someone who can use the camera right or create backdrops that don’t look like school play.
Now I’ve been watching movies for a while now, but even to the untrained eye, the computer generated images, or special effects, looked absolutely horrendous. When they were “on fire” in the parade it was like watching someone use After Effects for the first time and hoping for the best. I’m not wizard with after effects, but I think if I took a week I could emulate half the shots that they did. I felt as though I was watching b-movie schlock from the 80’s (which don’t get me wrong is some of my favorite) attempting to be serious, which it failed miserably at.
So, How Bad Is It?
This is the kind of movie that had the potential to be very big and act as a new trilogy for a new generation, and they failed quite miserably. Now I know numbers don’t lie. $155 million in one weekend. That’s unheard of, and a sequel is coming. And I’m going to see it. Why? I love the books. They’re great. But what the producers and the directors need to know is that to create something that sticks, you need to up the ante and build something, not throw it together. The Hunger Games have the potential to be a fantastic series, but if the trend continues in the same vein of this first installment, this trilogy will be nothing more than a passing trend that leaves absolutely no mark on cinema other than the box office numbers.
Written by: Tyler Osborne (Twitter)