* This is super late because I wrote it and then put it in drafts and forgot about it. But no one reads these anyway, so have fun:
1. New Hollywood Plan for Making Money: Adapt super-popular teen book series and watch money make itself. It worked with ‘Harry Potter,’ it worked with ‘Twighlight,’ and now it’s working with ‘The Hunger Games.’ It’s a genius strategy because the movies don’t even have to be good. Only half of the Harry Potter movies are even decent and none of the Twighlight movies are watchable unless you’re a teenage girl (or just one at heart). Unfortunately, the trend isn’t stopping. ’The Hunger Games’ is both incredibly popular and really poorly made. With these giant successes, we’ll see a glut of teen-novels-turned-movies in the coming years and Hollywood will, as always, kill the golden goose and then go looking for another goose. It’s too bad because this is a goose that actually has original ideas.
2. The story is very good. It’s ripe with sharp social commentary packaged in a very entertaining package. Having not read the books, I can’t say if Suzanne Collins is a good writer but I can definitely say she’s got some great ideas and a sharp eye. But I choose the word “story” carefully because the script for this movie is terrible. Too many “yeah right” instances throughout, too many undeveloped characters that never earn the moments we’re supposed to be feeling for them, and too many big ideas that are untouched in the name of keeping the film watered-down enough that no one can hate it.
3. Truth: you can’t hate it. It’s not bad enough to hate. The intent was to create a product to be sold, not a piece of art to be appreciated. And everyone with that goal seems to have done that job rather well.
4. Most of the nuance of Jennifer Lawrence’s ‘Winter’s Bone’ performance has been drained away from her here, but she is still able to put the movie on her shoulders and carry it around. She’s does the best with what she has and her best is better than anyone else in her age range, I’m sure. She’s a movie star, I just hope she will be up to challenge herself in the future and not let the extraordinary talent she has be wasted on stuff like this in the future (aside from the inevitable ‘Hunger Games’ sequels, I’ll be fine with those, they’re kind of obligatory).
5. Stanley Tucci never makes mistakes or does anything wrong so that’s all.
6. Acting round-up: West Bentley made me not hate him, so that’s good. Elizabeth Banks was nearly unrecognizable and her character’s 3rd act disappearance was a shame. Woody Harrelson was awesome but the motivations of his character were so blatantly contrived it was hard to care at all outside of marveling at Harrelson’s charm. Here’s an interesting one: Lenny Kravitz’s character was underwritten and he should’ve had more time to develop what he was doing. Seriously.
7. Oh, and Josh Hutcherson can be in anything he wants. He’s a pretty good actor and I’m pushing for short action heroes as long as I can.
8. Gary Ross did a terrible job of directing this film, but I shutter to think of what he must have been under. I called this movie a “product” earlier and I firmly believe that’s all it is. Not because Ross is a hack (he’s not) but because he signed on to a movie that was going to be over-controlled by the studio every step of the way. I hope he came out the other side ok because the end product was not one of his best works (btw, his best works are really good and this is not a good indicator of his ability as a director).
9. Most of this post has been awfully hateful and it’s hard for me to pick good things about the movie, but it really was a mess. Way too rushed and it really badgered the audience with the couple of things it wanted to get across. All tell and no show. This had the potential to be ‘Soylent Green’ or ‘Logan’s Run’ and do some interesting work but Hollywood has no use for that. Another shame.