Sunday, 1 April 2012

Roll up, roll up, Hunger Games 50p a ride!

*Warning: sort-of-spoiler alert! Do not read on if you are hoping to watch the Hunger Games without the burden of my eternal cynicism hanging over you.

I’ve had my suspicions about this for a while now, but after my recent visit to the cinema it is certain: I am getting old.

I went to see the Hunger Games, a film that was for me much anticipated in light of loving the trilogy of books. So what did I think? I suppose you can guess what’s coming.
Well no, actually, I didn’t hate it. In fact I thought it was portrayed rather well. The acting was good (well done child actors, for once), and the story true to the book. I also liked the way they used Caesar Flickerman's commentary throughout as a way of explaining things that were otherwise unexplainable.
Having said all that, there were some major, although not unfamiliar flaws for me.
The death of Rue is a touching moment in the book. Anyone who knows me, would say that I am a sucker for sad films. I quite successfully cried my way through the whole of My Sister’s Keeper, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. But the Rue part of the Hunger Games was, in my opinion, incredibly contrived, like I was being told ‘this is sad Rachel, you should cry now.’ I just think some essential tear jerking element has been lost, when the death of a young girl on screen is less moving than, for example, Bobby shouting ‘Daddy, it’s my Daddy!’ on a platform in The Railway Children (It gets me every time).
Anyway, onwards to the thing that makes me feel old, the thing that I think defines modern ‘action’ cinema in a way that is just not acceptable to me.
I seem to be getting a recurring feeling of motion sickness when watching these newfangled movies, not dissimilar to the sensation of being on the waltzers at the fair. And it’s not just the action filled parts- even when Katniss first got to the Capitol, the camera refused to settle on any one person for more than a couple of seconds. It is too much for my eyes, the constant, fast paced movement leaves me reeling, unsure of who’s who or what's going on, as well as making me want to puke. And it seems such a waste when things have been done so well, to then ruin them for the viewer by making everything too quick to take in.
Maybe it’s just me, but at the end of the Hunger Games I couldn’t help wishing I could see what it would’ve looked like had it been made twenty years ago. I suppose that’s a bit sad and I need to move on, but it’s hard to because I just don’t want to. I like to think that if anyone ever offered to make one of my children’s stories into a film—getting a bit ahead of myself but bear with me—that I would stand by my morals and say NO! to crazy camera work, painfully drawn out meaningful glances and an overkill of CGI. Of course in reality I would just say ‘thank you very much,’ and take the money, but I can always dream.
My hope for the future (me, overly dramatic? never) is that this is merely a cinematic phase, that we are going to move on at some point to an era that suits me better. To a place where I can be impressed but not overwhelmed and leave the cinema safe in the knowledge that a good job was done. Ideally I would like this to happen sooner rather than later. But for now I will just close my eyes, hold on tight and ask you to let me know when the ride has come to a complete stop.

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