I’ve never really written reviews before. Yeah, maybe I did a brief one or two before about a book I was reading for uni or one which I really loved. To me there always seems to be a tone of reviews out there covering the whole range, so why add one more to the list? Because for some reason whilst I was watching this movie I thought ‘won’t it be interesting to write a review and do it from the point of view of a writer.’ I bet this film has been reviewed by film and book critics a like and that there are hundreds out there, many of which are properly really good. I’ve never been one for reading reviews of anything before. I think that at first I didn’t have time to read or watch reviews and then it became because I didn’t want to know; I wanted to watch or read in my own time and make my own judgement influenced by anyone else.
Lately, and maybe it’s because of my boyfriend and the fact I suddenly have a lot of time on my hands now, I’ve started to become interested in book, film and comic book reviews. I’ve been watching a few on blip recently and maybe that has part inspired me. However, I wanted take a different point of view from the normal film and literature critic styles, not saying I’ve not got the intelligence to take one of those views- I’ve a degree in English lit and know how to de-construct a book to death- but this being a blog about becoming a writer and with myself trying to become a published author, I fancy that this view point would be more valuable.
So, here’s my writer’s review on The Hungry Games.
I already know this is a bit of an out dated review with The Hungry Games (HG) books and movie rush already over, but I only just got around to watching the film today. I was aware of the books before I heard about the releasing of the film, however hearing the whispers that HG was the next Twilight and the next big thing in teenage fiction put me straight off. For me, I’ve never actually got into teenage fiction, all of my writing is adult fiction and I’ve never been drawn to reading much teenage stuff. Though I was a massive fan of R. L. Stein and the Point Horror novels when younger.
With HG I refused to jump on the bandwagon like everyone else. It didn’t interest me especially when I found out that the plot was similar to Japan’s Battle Royal films and manga. I love both films and find them fascinated. I’ve read some of the manga too and actually found it a lot more in depth and graphic then the films. So, I was even more sceptic about the HG book. I couldn’t see how someone could take the idea of teenagers being forced to fight to the death much better then the Japanese. (If you’ve not actually seen this film then do.) Now the author of HG Suzanne Collins said that she wasn’t aware BR existed and her book had no ties to it. For me as a writer, I find that a bit hard to believe. Yeah, I know there’s no original ideas left and that writers recycle stuff all the time, but for her not to be aware of it until it got pointed out seemed a bit off. However, there are very few similarities between HG and BR.
I received the first HG book as an overdue Christmas present from a friend who thought it would be the perfect thing for me. I then also learned that the movie was due to come out. Interested to see what all the fussy was about- the same thing I did with Twilight-I thought I’d give reading the book a go. I was prepared as a reader and writer for it to be terrible, for the characters to be like cardboard cut outs and all samey, for the plot to only have one focus and frankly for it to be an American rip-off of Battle Royal.
I got proven wrong. The book is written wellish and has a clear story arc. The language used is as one expects for a teenage audience, simple with a touch of adult vocabulary The pace is also fast and you can become gripped by the unfolding events. The characters appear realistic and you get time to learn the main characters backgrounds and grew sympathy for them. Truthfully, I wasn’t that taken with the book, I’d properly just finished reading some complex book for uni at the time or was reading a supernatural romance novel. I don’t want to say because I’m not into teenage fiction or in touch with my child self. I did however prefer it over Twilight because it was better written and the characters more engaging. I’ve not read the other two books though I do have them.
So, the film. For the first twenty minutes or so I sit there thinking if you’ve not read the books or any reviews, then you won’t have a clue what’s going on. The exposition at the beginning is really bad and can be a bit confusing to what has happened and what is going on. How the dystopia happens and why their society ends up as it does isn’t examined fully and though the book goes a bit further into this, I still had many questions as to why we were being made to believe the stereotypical warring man has driven humanity to this. Battle Royal has a better explanation for why society has choice to go down the path of killing the next generation. In my mind and realistically thinking I can’t see humanity ever choosing to go down this root. I know that reality TV is getting worse all the time and people are becoming desensitised to things, but still.
After that shaky start you get what feels like a lot of time to learn and sympathise towards the main characters Katniss and Peeta. I know that this is important to draw the audience in and get them on the characters side, but I felt that too much time was spent doing this. You also get flashbacks through the film and though these are well placed it can be difficult to understand what’s happening. Rather strangely, whilst I’m writing this and I’m discussing HG with my boyfriend and we just came up with a good explain of the problems with these flashbacks. He wanted to know why the bread that Peeta gives Katniss is so important because that isn’t explained at all in the movie. Having read the book it was clear in my mind! Katniss and her sister are staving and by Peeta giving her the bread she was able to survive. This allows a strong link to form between them and fits in with the whole survival theme.
I have to admit that the romance between Katniss and Peeta though it was a faked romace just for entertiment was a lot better then the romance in Twilight. However faked or not, the romanace didn’t go anywhere and then once it started become the soul focus and the fighting was placed in the background. None of the other characters became romaticly involved and they were only interested in killing each other. Another difference to Battle Royal as lots of characters in that were romanticly involved and some even used it to an adventage. Also the focus is always on Katniss and you only see the other characters when she engages in them. Battle Royal shows you lots of characters and their backgrounds. As I writer I’d be keen to have explored the other tributes’ backgrounds and actual give readers the choice about who to support.
For me the script did come across as an okay adaption of the book, though there clearly were some confusing parts that could have easily been explained or explained differently like the bread thing, it only took me two minutes to explain that. Also one small thing that did bug me was how Katniss got that Mockingjay pin. In the film she finds it on a stall and the old woman gives it to her, in the book it’s the Mayor’s daughter who gives her the pin. The pin is meant to symbol hope and be a good luck token. It also symbolises Katniss district and rebellion against the games. but this isn’t really dealt with and actually slight confusing note, I’m not sure if the pin mockingjay pin does represent district 13 as no mockingjays live there and Katniss doesn’t know what one is until she’s told….So, I’m not sure about that point, maybe that’s my mistake though….
The acting was good, but I do have to agree with a few other reviewers that Jennifer Lawrence didn’t properly represent the image of Katniss that appears in the book. Yeah, I know with a fictional character finding someone to match the image of that character in the writer’s head is hard! The other two books, Catching Fire and Mockingjay (which is being divided into 2 parts) are being made into movies and have predicted release dates of November 2013 and November 2014/2015. If I actually read the books and go to see them is up for some debate right now….
So, what else can be said about HG? Well, technically it is the next Twilight, only I don’t think it’s going to set off a whole sub-genre of teenagers fighting each other books. Similar, to Twilight though the ideas and themes behind it are good, but the way it’s written effects how these ideas and themes are transferred to the reader. Thinking in terms of teenage fiction though and actually getting kids back into reading is a hard thing to do. Technology is a very hard medium to battle against and so any book that gets mass of kids and even adults to read it can only be classed as good. That’s not to say it’s written well though….but still any author who can achieve that has gained my respect.
And just to remind you of the link to my boyfriend’s web show.