How Bad is It?! The Hunger Games

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.

CGI (Again).

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)

Tyler Osborne
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8 Responses to “How Bad is It?! The Hunger Games”

  1. guest says:

    Thank you, finally an honest review. I totally agree with you on every point.

  2. endoftheworld says:

    I did NOT read the books and was VERY disappointed.  There seemed to be nothing of substance to it, the whole movie was about “the games” and Katniss running from danger.  I sat in a row of high school boys who proclaimed “that was pretty cool” in agreement when it was over.  I think the movie was made assuming everyone read the books but I am 43 and not a “young adult” when it came out so I’d never even heard of it, unlike Game of Thrones, where I heard of the books before they were filmed for HBO.  I read The Tripods and saw parts of the BBC series back in the 80’s, THAT was gripping.  Too bad they never made a video or DVD cassette for that.  Now I do want to get Winter’s Bone from the Library that’s the other movie Jennifer Lawrence was in and more my cup of tea, it seems like the movie has some substance.  Fantasy/sci-fi movies have gotten too violent, what’s the point?  I’d rather read the books. On side note I did NOT notice the shaky camera angles that many complain of and I am easily  motion sick so don’t know if there were different versions but the cinematography looked fine to me.  I also would have dressed the characters differently, it was an odd hodge-podge of 1950’s to present day.  The movie did spark my curiosity to read the books which likely won’t be avail. from the library for months.
    I wish I wouldn’t have wasted my $ and waited till I could get it from the library, they carry the Twilite series so am sure they’ll get these.
    hard to find any negative reviews online I can’t get over that either?

  3. Hey man, thanks for the kind words!

  4. I agree with you, and it means a lot you took the time to read and comment back, thanks for supporting the site!

  5. Endoftheworld says:

    i was just “surfing the web” as I tend to do and came upon this site looking for negative Hunger Games reviews since I really find it hard to believe the masses think this movie is so awesome, but then again if the age demographic is “young adult” I guess I am just too old and mature for such violent silliness.  I do prefer the fantasy genre and really was a big fan of the short lived Sword of Truth TV Series (read All Goodkind’s book’s and got very absorbed in the characters/story) – not sure why it was discontinued. 
    Update – did get the other waaay different movie Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss) was in “Winter’s Bone” and OMG, I watched it twice 2nd, time with subtitles (real southern accent hard to git in all the words).  that was very intense, though violent in spots and rated R it somehow seemed less violent then the Hunger Games.  If you want to see Jennifer Lawrence in a completely different venue or like depressing dramas/movies with substance, check it out. 

  6. Chris says:

    I totally agree with you! I’m 18 and have never read any of the books. Without having my girlfriend there I would have been completely lost, and probably would have left within ten minutes and gotten my money back. It took me all the way to the start games before I realized that there wasn’t a 13th district anymore! I believe they may have given some background information in the beginning of the movie, but it went by so fast that anyone who hasn’t read the books wouldn’t be able to catch everything. That’s what happened to me.  Also I completely agree with you when you say that the deaths didn’t have any emotional impact. I didn’t know who any of the character’s were, and quite frankly didn’t care. All I could think about was how to grow my beard out like the Gamekeeper’s. I was laughing throughout most of the movie because of the dialogue. I think you discribed the writing perfectly. And the ending..I don’t even know where to begin. I thought it was horrible and that the wrapped up the games way too fast. But like I said, I’ve never read the books so if that’s how the book ends forgive me. I think if they would have put in the time, and made the movie a little bit longer instead of trying to cram in everything quickly this could have been a good movie. The space-dogs at the end looked completely fake too. That ends my rant of the day.

  7. Mr. E says:

    I haven’t read the books and I did like the movie. It had a great, serious atmosphere, which is something I really enjoy. I also liked Harrelson in this, which was something I wasn’t sure I would.

    My roommate liked the movie so much that he went and bought all 3 books and read them all in a week. I might have to do the same.

  8. Thank you for all the nice things, it makes me happy to see that other people are seeing the movie in the same way as I. I’m finding it really hard to see the hype around it, other than media markets are really only pushing that movie. But again, whatever. To each his own.