The Hunger Games – Review

The film has taken the third highest Opening Weekend in history. The book series has sold over 26 Million copies. It’s no wonder the words “The Hunger Games” are on everyone’s lips right now.

The Hunger Games takes place about 100 years in the future, around 75 years after a vicious uprising in the United States (now known as the country of Panem). Panem consists of a wealthy Capitol and twelve surrounding, poorer districts. As punishment for the civil war (and to ensure it never happens again) the Capitol forces the twelve districts to ‘tribute’ one young male and one young female each year for the Hunger Games. A deadly competition, between the 24 tributes, where only one comes out alive.

And so the 74th annual Hunger Games are upon us and it’s time to select the tributes… District 12 (the coal mining district) holds it’s ‘reaping’ an event where children’s names (aged between 12 and 18) are drawn out at random… Ladies first (as usual)… Primrose Everdeen (12 Years Old). Enter Katniss Everdeen, Primrose’s 16 year old sister who volunteer’s in order to save her sister. Katniss, along with the other District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are taken to the Capitol to compete in the deadly Games.

The storyline would not be one you would automatically aim at the Twilight audience, considering it’s strong political undertones and death of over twenty children, not to mention the ones committing the murders are the same age. It’s something you would make a youtube video out of and rally the world against. Unfortunately, what I consider to be a good and engaging storyline seems to be wasted on the young. The fast-movements of the camera during a lot of the fighting and death scenes almost makes you feel like you are one of the competitors, the camera seems to brush over the crucial killing blows. In my opinion, I would say this was to keep to an M rating and allow the target demographic to enjoy the film adaptation of the book series they loved so much. I have not read the books. Although I intend to (having just bought the first book today). I would have loved to see a story like (Scratch that… THIS STORY) this aimed at an older demographic. Then they could turn it into a TV series a la Game of Thrones.

But enough about the tween/teenage demographic who do not deserve such a story. Lets talk about the rest of the film. While the camera movements made me feel apart of the Games, it also alienated me a little… I go to a film to enjoy it… not have a seizure. However annoying it was, (and having not read the books, knowing very little about the story) I found my self interested in the story, worried about Katniss, not whether she’d come out alive (… she can’t die… right?) but more how she’d come out alive. I was on the edge of my seat for some parts. Now, acting… Jennifer Lawrence is a very talented (…hot) woman, she played the role of Katniss Everdeen (the name is starting to grow on me) perfectly. I got the feelings she was experiencing and her overall fear and courage through out the whole film. Lenny Kravitz did pretty well as one of the District 12 (I could have the wrong terminology) advisors. Josh Hutcherson plays Peeta quite well, although there were a couple of times I thought his character was acting kind of strangely (but again, I haven’t read the book… maybe it’s normal?). Woody Harrelson plays a fantastic drunkard yet caring ex-Hunger Games champ. And Liam Hemsworth… our guy, (’cause he’s an Aussie) despite his quite high billing on the film, is in it for about seven to ten minutes on whole. He received a collective “awwwww” from the cinema in a scene where he is watching the coverage of the Games and pulls of a better ‘Jacob (Why didn’t she pick me) Face’ then Taylor Lautner himself. I assume he plays a larger role in the later films.

All in all, I was impressed with the film. It was a good film… not worthy of any super-duper awards, but a great adaptation and I’d say also a good avenue fro people to get in to the books (it’s what has happened to me). The Hunger Games universe is a great one and one you could create stories for anywhere in its 75+ year history and beyond, in to the future. I am actually trying to wrap up writing this blog so I can start reading the book.

I wouldn’t recommend this film for anyone under the age of 12-13 and even then the 12-year-old would probably have to be a little more mature than a regular 12-year-old. There are some pretty confronting images of dead children that are not for the younger kids. Parents, watch it first before you decide on your kids seeing it.

To Wrap up…

  • The Hunger Games
  • Jennifer Lawrence
  • Fantastic storyline
  • Sometimes annoying camera movements
  • Not suitable for the young ones
  • I’d see it again!

The Hunger Games: Average

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Night Watch (Nochnoy Dozor) – Review

Based on the Russian novel series by Sergei Lukyanenko, Night Watch was adapted by Timur Bekmambetov, a Russian Writer/Producer/Director in 2004.

The film follows Anton Gorodetsky, an ‘Other’ who has found himself mixed up in a secret war between other ‘Others’… A battle between Light and Dark. Light ‘Others’ are the Night Watch, sworn to keep the Dark ‘Others’ in check. Likewise, the Dark ‘Others’ are the Day Watch keeping tabs on the Light ‘Others’. Siding with the Night Watch, Anton works as a ‘supernatural police man’ taking down Dark ‘Others’ who defy an ancient truce that keeps the world from falling in to chaos. When he sees a woman on a train with the vortex (an omen that spells the end of the truce and the apocalypse) over her head, he and the others of the Night Watch must stop the Vortex before the truce falls apart and the world plunges in to darkness.

Night Watch is seen as the first Russian Blockbuster since the collapse of the Soviet Film Industry in the late 80’s/early 90’s. With a budget of $4.2 million it was considered high concept until a few years later… now some budgets are over $20 million! Russia’s film industry is expanding greatly since the fall of the iron curtain and it’s directors like Timur Bekmambetov that are helping it along. He is now working in the US as well as Russia, currently directing Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and in 2008, Wanted.

Bekmambetov is a very strong sci-fi/fantasy director. In Night Watch it is clear that he draws his ideas and styles of filming from Hollywood productions like The Matrix series. The film felt more hollywood-y rather than a international film but it still felt quite Russian in its culture and character. If you like The Matrix or The Underworld series and don’t mind reading subtitles, (There is a dubbed version, however I do recommend the Russian with Subtitles) definitely see this film.

Night Watch: Average