Throwback: “The Hunger Games Review Part 3”

Before I get to the review, a bit of backstory. The Hunger Games is infamous for ripping off Battle Royale, but Battle Royale had a sequel. Battle Royale 2 focused on the survivors of the original trying to overthrow the government. It was widely criticized and labeled as an inferior film. The Hunger Games, apparently not learning, gave us Part 3, about the survivors of the original trying to overthrow the government. Here we go again.

Once again, we begin with the characters. All the old characters are the same, and the new characters are still boring. You have generic rebel leader with generic secret plans, generic squad commander with no personality, and various characters that only show up for a chapter or two, including generic squadmates 1-5. Nobody sticks out as interesting, and everyone is the same bland shade of UGH.

The story is by far the worst in the series. So, as it turns out, the secret thirteenth district, which was thought to be a nuclear wasteland, is actually a fully armed resistance HQ, and so they move out to destroy the Capitol. They do this by conquering the individual districts, of which we get to see 2 and 8, and then fighting in the Capitol itself. Meanwhile, Bread Boy has been kidnapped, and so they kidnap him back, only to find that he’s a danger to himself and others. The biggest problem with the book is that it suffers from shove-as-many-characters-into-the-finale-as-possible syndrome. This means the book is packed full of characters, none of whom have any actual character, and it expects you to remember who everyone is, and it expects you to care about all of them. The problem with that is since nobody has any character, nobody cares, and the sheer volume of characters causes them to bleed together into a thick, gray sludge. This distracts from the overall narrative, which is terrible anyway.

Once again, the film sound is awful. Jennifer Lawrence, while she might be a good actress (I don’t know), simply can’t deliver the lines that she’s presented with. The music in the film is just as bad as always, and nothing sticks out.

The actual visuals in the film are passable at best. Nothing is memorable for being any good, and most of the stuff still looks obviously fake. Kudos to the opening scene, though, which looks like something out of a holocaust drama.

And here’s where the philosophy got out of control, mutated into a monster, and tried to devour the townsfolk. Half the god damn book, including 95% of the last 3-4 chapters, is just spouting philosophical nonsense. And not even good philosophical nonsense. It’s more of “why our species sucks”, like we’ve seen thousands of times.

Overall, this was a mess. Bad story, forgettable characters, bad acting in the film’s case, and a shopping list of other problems bog it down. Unlike the other 2, both the book and the film earn the same rating. I issue The Hunger Games: Part 3 with a D- grade, and an I’LL SEND YOU BACK TO HELL! rating. This is absolute garbage, and you must avoid it. There, now I don’t have to touch this ever again. I’ll see you next time.

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Throwback: “The Hunger Games Review Part 2”

So, considering how unimpressed I was with Part 1, you’d think that Part 2 would be the bane of my existence. Well, actually, you’re wrong. I like 2 WAY more than 1. Does that make it good? Well, let’s find out. This is… The Hunger Games Part 2: Catching Fire.

As always, we start with the characters. All the old characters are exactly the same, and the new ones are meh. The new supporting protagonists are mostly dull throwaways, and are totally predictable. With an all-star cast like this, there’s the opportunity for really interesting characters. But instead, we get Pretty Boy Who’s Surprisingly Helpful, Smart Guy With Escape Plan, and Bitch #42. All the antagonists are bland, with nobody except the dictator getting more than 1 line of dialogue, and most getting none at all. And with all the competitors being previous victors, you’d think that we’d get at least one Kiriyama. Unfortunately, no. Overall, the characters still suck.

The story goes something like this: After the end of Part 1, people thought the finale was defiance. The dictator doesn’t want it to be defiance, so he threatens the heroine into working for him. When it fails, he throws her into a new arena with a lot of previous winners. She’s thinking of betraying her friends to keep Bread Boy alive, while one of them is planning an escape attempt. But it’s actually handled better here than in Part 1, and has some legitimately interesting moments. However, it makes the critical mistake of assuming you automatically care about the side characters, so there’s no need to develop them. This leads to hilariously bad moments that think themselves to be tragic, but the audience doesn’t care at all. An infamous example is in the film, where some random person sacrifices themselves for Bread Boy, without one line of dialogue in the whole film. And then they try for a serious death scene, and it’s the most laughable scene in the whole film. So overall, I’m lukewarm on the story.

In the film, the cinematography is FAR better than Part 1. The series got a new director, and it shows. The horrendous shaky cam is gone, the CGI is way better, and the sickening effects have been removed. The weapons still look fake, and there’s no ability to critique the death effects, since they’re all off-screen. Yes, the deaths are all off-screen. The descriptions in the book are passable, but nothing special.

The sound is just as bad as before. The music effects are so forgettable, I can’t remember a single one. The acting is really stilted, and the line delivery is pretty bad. Best performance goes to Philip Seymour Hoffman, as he’s one of the only two who seem to care at all, the other being the always-entertaining Donald Sutherland. So, sound is overall still bad.
This is the point where the philosophy starts to creep in. There are entire chapters of the book devoted to philosophical nonsense, and it’s not even good philosophy. That needed to be done better, and it wasn’t.

Overall, Part 2 was better than Part 1, but still only slightly above average. Again, I must grade the book and film separately. The book is almost good, but doesn’t quite make it, and earns a B- grade, with a WHATEVER FLOATS YOUR BOAT rating. The film earns a C+, and also gets a WHATEVER FLOATS YOUR BOAT rating. I’ll be back again soon, to review the final part of this trilogy, and I’m really dreading it.

Throwback: “The Hunger Games Review Part 1”

Recently, I looked at my backed up files from a long time ago, and I thought I would upload a few of them as a look back at my old writing. Take a look at my initial review of the original Hunger Games from a year ago.

 

It’s really amazing just how divisive this book is. On one side, you have people praising it as the best book ever that should be worshipped by all. On the other side, you have people like my friend Wolf, who directly compares it to Sword Art Online (which is one of the worst shows ever aired) and “would burn a copy, but that would mean giving them (referring to the author and the publisher) money.” You may ask me, where do I stand? I’ve read the arguments of both sides, and both have some valid points. So let’s stop beating around the bush, and actually review the beginning of this pop-culture monstrosity. This is… The Hunger Games
As always, we start with the characters. Our main character is the best one in the book, though that’s not saying much. She’s this poor person in a dystopia, who can hunt wild animals, because her winning needs to be justified. But her personality is BLAND. She has few to no defining characteristics beyond being the most antisocial loser in the history of the world. Our secondary protagonist is just as bland, being the hopeless romantic who is there to add tension to sequences. As a Romanticist myself, I don’t find him very representative of what it’s like. All the other characters feel like they’re included because “the genre requires these characters”. You have the experienced mentor figure, the token love interest, the pointless sibling that only serves as motivation, and the dictator that leads with no real defining characteristics. Even the other competitors are cliché. You have the guy who dives right in (though he only kills like 2 people), his band of strong competitors, the token helpless character who only exists to create “emotions” when they die, and basically every other cliché in the genre. So, the characters are blander than unsalted crackers.
The story easily outstrips the characters in that it’s at least semi-competent. In a future America, the country is run by a Capitol (which will always be referred to as The Capitol, so get used to it) out of presumably Denver. In future West Virginia, our main heroine is a working-class model person, who learns to hunt stuff for additional money. Every year, the Capitol demands each of the 12 districts to offer up 1 teenage boy and 1 teenage girl for the worst summer camp ever, where they kill each other because reasons. Instead of her being picked, her younger sister is. Excited yet? Well, she volunteers to join the game in place of her sister. The guy who goes up with her (of course) has had a secret infatuation with her for years. Isn’t THAT lovely? And cliché as hell. They go to the Capitol, show themselves off for sponsors, try (and fail) for some character development, and are tossed into the arena. After that, it’s predictable thriller from beginning to end. The story itself is merely decent, and doesn’t stand out at all.
One thing I suppose I should give credit for is that this book doesn’t waste your time with symbolism or philosophy. The entire focus is on the plot itself. I don’t know if I like this or not, but it’s worth a mention.
In the film adaptation, I need to say this right now: The music is TERRIBLE. It’s really bland, really repetitive, and really forgettable. It’s like they bought their soundtrack off one of those composers who doesn’t charge license fees, like Kevin MacLeod. Their composer was James Newton Howard, who did the music for The Dark Knight, The Sixth Sense, and Glengarry Glen Ross. There’s losing your touch, and then there’s going fucking insane. In short, the music sucks.
The cinematography in the film is even WORSE than the music. There’s an ungodly amount of shaky cam, terrible CGI, no real clever techniques, and headache-inducing foliage. Yeah, you read that right. The foliage effects gave me a headache. Some genius has the WONDERFUL idea of putting small blue lines on the foliage, which makes it unbearable if you have sensitive eyes. How is it that a B-Movie from 2000 has better effects than this AAA film from 2012? I really don’t know. The weapons look fake, the blood looks like water, and the monsters at the end look like the Star Wars prequels.
In conclusion, I need to grade both separately. The book gets a C+, with a Whatever Floats Your Boat rating. The average story and decent descriptions make up for the bad characters, but can’t make it good. The film, which takes everything bad and makes it worse, as well as adding absolutely HORRIBLE cinematic elements, gets a D+, with a Glass of Cold Spunk rating. If you really want to read the book, you can go ahead, but avoid the film as much as you can.