Hunger Games Film Reviews: The Ends of the Spectrum Are In

While most of us out here in the Districts have to wait until the 23rd of March (tomorrow! late tonight!) to watch the film, the Hunger Games movie has been screened in the Capitol at a lavish roll-out event and in smaller bashes for the Mayors and Friends of the Gamesmakers out in the relative boonies. These Friends of the Capitol, friends with privileges, have written their flash impressions for those of us frozen at the Panem news trough and, in very short order, we have seen revealed the ends of the critical spectrum.

TIME magazine’s Richard Corliss says there is very little to admire or enjoy in Ross’ adaptation., in strong contrast, as one might expect at a site “For fans, By fans” for all fandoms, a site that lives and dies in its relationship with the Gamesmakers, had only the scantiest of qualifications for the praise it ladles on everyone involved in the movie.

Reviewer Corliss concludes acidly in his The Hunger Games: The Odds are Not in Your Favor (The movie version of Suzanne Collins’ best-seller misses the book’s ferocity, but who cares?) that “If they made books out of movies, this Hunger Games would never see print.”

Collins didn’t have to worry about a movie rating when she sat down to write The Hunger Games. Though meant for teen readers, the novel vibrates with a relentless passion that put the reader inside Katniss’s mind and guts. The reading experience could be rated R — not for the gore, and not for the sex (there is none), but for the ferocity of the prose. But that was a book; this is a movie, a commodity aiming for a billion-dollar worldwide gross. What Ross has created is a dutiful spectacle — as if his name had been drawn at random, and the job were not the chance of a lifetime but a slog to the death.

“No, no, Richard, tell us what you really think!” There’s next to nothing in the movie that recommends we go see it, in his opinion, but he is resigned that we all will no matter what he says. Which, of course, is exactly right. LionsGate has successfully made us believe this is an early Pascha or second Christmas and we’re not missing that for the world.

While Mr. Corliss, in his critical corner, deplores the over and inappropriate use of the hand-held camera, “Jeremy” at in his Hypable Movie Review: ‘The Hunger Games’ is a challenging, transcendent piece of sci-fi cinema is lapping it up with token reserve:

One of the ways in which this power is achieved visually is through the use of handheld camera movement, which isn’t exactly “shaky” in the sense we’ve come to know from numerous films but has a lot of movement in it. This style enables us to really delve into Katniss’ perspective. Where the shaky-cam doesn’t work is in hand-to-hand combat within the arena, which often becomes tiresome and doesn’t really hold the same impact as the technique has in quieter scenes.

It’s really, really great but only not quite so great in the fight scenes…

But what about the adaptation from the book? Do Ross’ camera errors lower his grade on the important issue? Y’know, messing with the narrative focus we have in the books?

There has always been a cinematic appeal to The Hunger Games, which is evident to any who have read Suzanne Collins’ best-selling novel, and this appeal is fully realized by director Gary Ross. At once harrowing and grand, the film is still grounded in the personal portrayal of Katniss Everdeen, played stunningly by Jennifer Lawrence. While the visuals and effects lack in places, holding the film back slightly, the nature of Suzanne Collins’ tale translates perhaps even stronger into cinema, and the grandiose nature of the film shines through in all the right moments.

Gary Ross has such a firm grasp of how the messages of the film affect us that The Hunger Games – the best sci-fi film in years – lives up to its potential. It is a cautionary tale with deep themes and messages wrapped in the most lowly entertainment imaginable: the Hunger Games.

Grade: A

So, there we go! An ‘A’ and an ‘F.’ Now we’ll have to see it ourselves and figure out if the lapdog or the pitbull critic was closer to the mark. What are your plans for seeing the film? Let us know below!


  1. Seeing it at midnight with my daughter.

  2. There was a lot of handheld camerawork; I felt a little seasick at times, but I am sensitive to that (didn’t make it through the Blair Witch Project). Obviously they changed a few details from the book, but I can see why. Overall, I liked it, but I had to lie down for twenty minutes to get over the nausea afterward.

  3. Dark Knight says

    Yep, Way too much handheld camera & zooming into peoples nostrils. The story is very intense so this effect was so overdone it mkaes one numb (Or nauseas). Very seldom could they even fit the whole person’s face into the scene … that’s how close up it is filmed. Very disapointing. I feel as if I am still waiting to see the movie.

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