Mamo #246: A Pop Cultural Maelstrom

Kaboom! The Hunger Games shows up, and shows us how it’s done. Haters gonna hate, but in this $150M+ teen girl prizefight, we’re with Katniss.

To download this episode, use this URL: http://rowthree.com/audio/mamo/mamo246.mp3

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Brittany
Guest

Great episode guys. I could not agree more. I think people had their pitchforks and torches out as soon as this movie was annouced, some are on this site. I thought the movie was good not great. But all the hate I think is coming from a reaction to the overwhelming positive response to the film, and not based on the film itself.

Ky in Boston
Guest

I’m so happy Katniss is kicking Bella’s ass in B.O.

Andrew James
Admin

On this I can agree.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Is this the low-bar of comparison or statement of quality? (See lengthier comment below this one in response to SK for elaboration)

Based on the inanity of the Twilight screenplays and junk-drawer special effects (at least by US Blockbuster standards) is not the bulk of movies (and yes, I’m including junk-stuffs like The Lightning Thief, National Treasure and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, hell, The Sound of Thunder) well above this low-benchmark.

I can safely say without seeing The Hunger Games that it is better than Twilight (which, sadly, I have seen) and that Katniss is a better character than Bella.

Gawd, I feel old! Get off my lawn.

Sean Patrick Kelly
Guest

I do sort of agree that there is an inherent “snobby” attitude to “serious” cinephiles, whether it’s intentional or not.

I’m a fan of both mainstream and arthouse cinema and try to look at both with a different set of eyes (i.e. I would not look at Hunger Games the same way I would look at a “serious” foreign film with subtitles). That said, I received some feedback from friends that my film writing/blogging (even for mainstream stuff) is very academic.

Because I have a degree in film studies, it’s almost become second nature for me to try and dissect a film, whether I intend to or not. While I try to keep the thoughts I post in my blog a few paragraphs long, more often than not, I’ve started writing mini-essays on the films I see (Hunger Games being the most recent example).

My verdict on Hunger Games is that I can say that I liked the film, even though I believed that it was overhyped for what it was. That’s my opinion and I am not going to try to change the minds of people who didn’t like the film, since that’s not what I believe in.

All that said, I will get snobby for a moment when it comes to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and its sequels. You say that there is a built-in European audience for future film adaptations. I say that there is already of a trilogy and Swedish-language films (that I love) and they don’t need Americans to invade their soil with more English-language versions (now, I wait for the super-snobby response saying that they were made-for-TV films and don’t count).

I hope you enjoyed this mini-essay of a comment. 😛

Sean Patrick Kelly
Guest

Small typo: I meant “trilogy OF Swedish-language films”

Kasper
Guest

While initially meant for tv the success of the first movie in theaters prompted both sequels to be released theatrically.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

I’m a fan of both art and trash on screen, if I come off as ‘snobbish’ in conversation or on the Cinecast it is merely my bias against the mediocre-middle ground (vide: Marvel Output of the past 5+ years, MilleniumFilms, Star Wars Prequels, anything directed by J.J. Abrams, Slumdog Millionaire, etc.), and it looks like despite the big box-office, The Hunger Games is occupying the bland-middle ground. Sure on the relative scale of TWILIGHT films, it’s easy to side with Katniss & her sci-fi bread and circus.

I’m happy to show up for great cinema (from Hitchcock to Haneke to Malick to wkw and many, many others)…

…and great trash (my soft-spot for the recent Paul Bettany PRIEST, The Book of Eli, The Jason Statham Transporter films, 1990s era DePalma, John Carpenter’s entire filmography, but especially Big Trouble in Little China, Battle Royale, Shaw Brothers shaolin flicks, and I’m never happier than when I’m watching a Joe Dante film.)

Yes, I understand by this logic (high art, low trash) I should be a bigger fan of Michael Bay’s bombast, something like Transformers2, but alas, I’m not.

Marcus
Guest

What makes films like Priest, Jason Statham movies, and etc. more enjoyable than the bigger budget films for you? Not arguing, just curious?

Kurt
Guest

There is something rather fun about cartoonish action pictures that wink at the audience by the very fact of their own ridiculous.

Rick Vance
Guest

Did you ever see Transformers 3 Kurt? It is the only one of those three to get the Michael Bay bombast correct (1 & 2 were both terrible and boring).

Andrew James
Admin

Holy shit! Someone agrees with me about Transformers 3!? I said as much during that episode of the Cinecast; albeit in kind of a roundabout way. Your succinct way of putting is much better. I just audibly yelled at critics and movie fans for a while.

Rick Vance
Guest

Yeah something I read about the film completely crystallized it.

http://www.factualopinion.com/the_factual_opinion/2011/07/transformers_tribe_called_quest.html

Goon
Guest

I agree on Transformers 3. Still a bad movie, very bad overall, because of the characters, but its the first to get the ‘big robots fighting’ right.

Sean Patrick Kelly
Guest

I actually quite loved Transformers 3

Jericho Slim
Guest

I call bull on Transformers 3 being good at all. What happened is that you all got beat down by the utter awfulness of Transformers 2, and your expectations were less than zero. And then Transformers 3 wasn’t quite as mind-numbingly awful as the 2nd one, and you give it a pass.

Are you telling me that all of the time spent with Shia looking for a job was enjoyable on any level? No way possible.

And then the last action set piece. It was slightly less unintelligible than the second, but Bay gets props for it? Please! There were snapshots of action that were good – where you could actually tell what was going on – but it they were few and far between. Wait – but Bay filmed some guys in squirrel suits flying through the air. Awesome!

Rick Vance
Guest

I don’t have a problem following Bay’s action in the slightest. In fact at this point it has becoming his defining style but I can see how that could put people off.

Nat Almirall
Guest

Didn’t you like Revenge of the Sith?

Patrick
Guest

I believe the prophet 50 of the Cent said it the the best, “And if they hate then let them hate and watch the money pile up.”

Matthew Fabb
Guest

Regarding Disney making the statement when they did, it was because Disney had a shareholders meeting and Disney execs were asked about John Carter. So it wasn’t like their released a press release or anything that could have been timed later.

Catching fire is set to come out November 2013, and Lionsgate wants to do the last book as 2 movies. Following Harry Potter and then Twilight of breaking up the final book into 2 pieces in order to make more money and also to make it easier to wrap up all the various plot points.

Also I’m surprised in talking about the success that the 2 Matt’s didn’t talk about how big of an audience this has beyond teenage girls. To me the big difference between this and Twilight is that this has a lot more appeal to guys. Perhaps midnight screen was mostly teenage girls, but the Sunday night screening I went to had a lot of guys.

Speaking of snobbish, last summer at San Diego Comic Con while much of the crowd looked down on the Twilight fans who were mainly teenager girls & their mothers, just about everyone wanted to get their hands on a mockingjay pin. You basically had to be at the Liongate booth when they got a new box of those pins, because they would just disappear with most people wanting to get their hands on one.

I think Hollywood should do more to catter to teenage girls, but saying this movie is for just for teenage girls is like saying Harry Potter is just for kids (not that either Matt has been saying that, just that some of the media seems to be saying that).

Anyways, I enjoyed the movie while realizing it did have some flaws and I do think it could have been a better adaptation in someone else’s hands. Also I do realize that they lost a lot of information that is in the book, since you don’t see inside of Katniss head. She is the one that explains things internally. Example when Woody Harrelson’s character was negotiating for a care package for Katniss, they cut out the volume. A small bit of dialogue there would have helped other people understand how sponsors would pay for one of those care packages on parachutes. I also wasn’t too happy with the shaky camera at times (why do directors still think this is okay?). Still despite these complaints, I enjoyed the movie.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

I just saw on Box Office Mojo that according to studio surveys, the Hunger Games’ audience was 61% female. Which is a big difference they mention from 80% female that the last Twilight movie was at. Also 56% of the audience was 25 and older, which once again compared to Twilight is a lot older audience. So definitely a movie that is playing more than just to teenage girls.

Andrew James
Admin

Everyone at my screening (all 15 of us) are well over the age of 25. Most of us 30 somethings.

Goon
Guest

I dont think R3 has been any more snobby to Hunger Games as it’s been the majority of other blockbusters, especially if a superhero is involved.

But on its own terms. I was looking forward to Hunger Games, I didn’t hold its YA-ness against it. I’ve had the audiobook for months but didn’t listen only because it was one 10 hour track.

I didn’t like the movie. I thought it was generic and artificial to a degree that I was thoroughly unentertained and could only enjoy Lawrence’s performance in spite of her terrible dialogue. I agreed entirely with this video review (also from the other thread)
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/escape-to-the-movies/5516-The-Hunger-Games

On Saturday and into today I went and finally though, listened to that audiobook, and I enjoyed the “book” quite a bit. It still has obvious flaws and a lot of things that don’t make sense. its extremely nitpickable. But the big problem is that the book is a first-person narrative and goes to extreme detail about survivalism and the awful violence around them, and this gets either whitewashed or glossed over in the film. The burns, the dehydration the film has a checklist of plot points to burn through rather than properly convey the life-changing torture of the games.

To some degree there is better character development for the other tributes, but not a whole lot more, a flaw in both book and film. Stuff like the muttations from the end is just stupid in both book and movie.

Katniss is a solid role model character. There is some degree of detachment and problem with her emotions that yes, does open the door for the reader to project their own experiences and emotions onto the character. I understand this is similar to how Bella is written. It doesn’t bother me, the character works anyways, and the stuff involving her sister and how Rue reflects that is significantly better in the book.

the movie is a 1/5 for me, largely to being again, so generic that it is less entertaining than if it had at least swung for the fences and failed. It’s a mixture of too safe and just bad. I don’t think its insulting to an entire demographic to point out the extremely obvious flaws of the film, bad is bad.

Matthew Price
Guest

I just want to make clear that while I do find your opinion on this overreaching and strident, yours were not the comments that I was signalling as subtly misogynistic or directed at the audience of the film. I do think that using the phrase “objectively bad” when discussing your opinion of a work of art is a dick move every time, and I think you ceded any authority on this subject when you did that, but I don’t think that means you hate women.

Goon
Guest

“objectively bad” was a bad term, I deleted the line from my own letterboxd review. What I meant to put across with that is that unlike other movies where you can see why some would like it, I can’t see what possesses one to give this a thumbs up. I think the overall brew of filmmaking, acting, scriptwriting, editing, cinematography, etc, is indefensible.

Another of this ilk for me recently, was Red State.

Anyways I came back here to post this terrible thing:

http://jezebel.com/5896408/racist-hunger-games-fans-dont-care-how-much-money-the-movie-made

Matthew Fabb
Guest

I wondered how Hollywood might react to this movie when dealing with the myth that with a few exceptions women can’t start in action movies.

The comic book blog, the Beat rounded up several articles dealing with this topic:
http://www.comicsbeat.com/2012/03/26/hunger-games-katniss-succeeds-where-the-other-girls-failed—but-will-anyone-listen/

It wasn’t until I read this article that I realized that the movie wasn’t in 3D, which makes me once again amazed at how much money it made without having to do go 3D.

Kurt
Guest

It did have a slight boost from 2D Imax (which also charges a premium), but yea, that is kind of amazing, and hopefully, blessedly, another nail in the 3D Coffin.

Gord
Guest

Anyone saying they enjoyed Transformers 3 yet trash the Marvel films is an idiot. Yes, some of the Marvel films are just average. But all Transformers films are just offensive and cater to the lowest common denominator.

Sean Patrick Kelly
Guest

You know, all this is just a matter of opinion and for the record, I like BOTH the Marvel films and Transformers film.

Rick Vance
Guest

Michael Bay has individual vision and talent, the Marvel movie making process is all about the cast and not about direction at all. If anything the decent directors it squeezes what makes them unique out of them during the filming.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

To each their own, but as I mentioned bellow I think Michael Bay is horrible at action. However, I’m not posting again to repeat myself, but to point out how both Iron Man movies are great largely thanks to Jon Favreau. To me it has his finger prints all over it. The things I liked most about Spider-Man 2 were the scenes that were so Sam Raimi. All the little great character bits were classic Raimi. Of course he went completely off target with Spider-Man 3, but I think had a lot to do with Avi Arad forcing Raimi to take on Venon, a character that he didn’t have any passion for. X-Men 2 stood out once again thanks to Bryan Singer and completely sunk in X-men 3 when he wasn’t around.

To me all the great Marvel movies mainly been thanks to great directors taking on the project.

Just as I don’t think I would be as excited as I am for Avengers if it wasn’t for the fact that it was written and directed by Joss Whedon.

Andrew James
Admin

First off, I want to make it clear that I didn’t love Trans3. What I’m saying is that the blind hate for that movie – simply because it’s cool to trash Michael Bay is ridiculous. Is it a good film? No, not really. But in terms of big, stupid, action, blockbusters it has some things going for it. Did I enjoy it? Well, not the whole thing, but yes there are elements all throughout that film that I did enjoy. It’s the kind of stuff that Michael Bay does and what he’s going to continue to do. If you have a problem with it, don’t watch it. It’s not like anything he’s ever going to do is gonna change or challenge a viewer who is going in knowing exactly what to expect and already knowing they hate it. You know it will be a whole-ridden plot with awesome cars, tough guys, big fucking explosions and girls’ asses. It’s the epitome of trash but with a billion dollar budget. So why even bother ragging on it?

Secondly, I’d argue that exactly because it is rather inept and (I agree) caters to the lowest common denominator is exactly why it’s far better than Marvel films.

MAtt Gamble
Guest

So your argument is that it is better because it is worse?

Andrew James
Admin

Essentially, yes. But I don’t necessarily think it’s “worse”. My argument is more aptly stated as this: It’s better because it’s balls out and not boring and/or average. It knows what it wants to be and fucking goes for it. The Bay philosophy of, “If I’m going to film a girl’s ass, I’m damn well gonna film a girl’s ass! Grease, sweat, steam and all. If I’m going to have a rich guy with some cool cars, then none of this Cameron Frye shit. He’s going to have the most ridiculous, rarest cars on the planet and he’s going to own 40 of them and they’ll all be on display in a glass tower hundreds of feet above the city… and you know what? Fuck it, there’s going to be half-naked girls walking around pretending to be secretaries and shit. And then I’m going to make the building slowly collapse over the course of thirty minutes and you’re going to watch all the girls and awesome cars get all smashed up and fall into the concrete and explode. And meanwhile, army dudes are gonna fly around the building in squirrel suits getting shot at by rocket launchers, lasers and machine guns from giant fucking robots that ALSO turn into radical cars.”

And the cool thing is, with Transformers 3, it seemed to all work. Is it inane and ridiculous? fuckin’ A. But I could tell what the hell was going on and it was fun for a while. Transformers 1 & 2 didn’t seem to be able to pull this off.

Marvel stuff just seems to be the same shit over and over and it’s pretty damn boring – but of course “boring” is my opinion and other maybe wouldn’t agree it is as such. Good for them – I”m glad they enjoy it.

You, Gamble, were in the room when I already went through this ramble on the Cinecast I believe. I THINK it was this episode – http://www.rowthree.com/2011/06/30/cinecast-episode-219-menstrual-genius/

Gord
Guest

Well, I don’t know about you but I’ll take a well crafted (or as you call it safe or average) film over a complete and utter mess any day of the week. I know I might be in the minority on this but I like my films to make sense. I know, I know, Im crazy.

Andrew James
Admin

Hey Gord, I agree (hence what I said about Southland Tales). But Transformers 3 isn’t a mess. It’s insane and chaotic and even idiotic at times, but it makes perfect sense and does what it sets out to do.

That isn’t to say there isn’t a plot whole or two, but once again, this is expected Bay’s stories (always has been) and isn’t the point. At all.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

For the record, I didn’t see Transformers 3, I saw the first one which I think was one of the worst movies I have ever seen and 10 minutes of the 2nd one before giving up. My problem with Michael Bay, is that I don’t think he’s any good in directing action sequences. I think he’s one of the worst directors when it comes to action, as half the time you can’t see what the hell is going on because the camera is moving so fast. Perhaps his style might work best with a big blockbuster horror movie, where you can see the monster or villain leaving things up to the imagination. However, even when it comes to thoughtless action movies, I think he’s the worst.

Andrew James
Admin

The first one was pretty bad – though I admitted to having some fun with it at the time. The second one is absolute fucking garbage. It is completely terrible in every way a movie can be terrible (except the fight seen in the forest – that was pretty well imagined and shown off).

Andrew James
Admin

Of course, this sort of goes directly against what I said in the comments of the latest movie club podcast, but in the case of Southland Tales, it’s a movie knowing what it wants to be and then implodes on itself and essentially becomes nothing.

Transformers 3 at least knows what it wants to be and does it. I don’t consider it the train wreck that Southland Tales is.

Cringe
Guest

Leave it to Mamo to have a podcast on Hunger Games turn in to a debate on Michael Bay and Transformers.

Matthew Price
Guest

Yes. We are catalysts of the sub genius.

Jericho Slim
Guest

It makes perfect sense because Transformers 3 is just like the Hunger Games in this way: they both benefit by comparisons to other movies.

I didn’t like the Hunger Games, but I can see how people could. That being said, it’s at 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. There is no way that it gets that high unless critics are comparing it to Twilight, consciously or sub-consciously. I’m not saying that Hunger Games is a bad movie, but – just given the use of the shaky cam itself – there is no way it should get to 85. Neither of the last two Bourne films got that high. It benefits because it has a better female role model than Twilight and because it’s a better film.

Transformers 3 is the same way. Any positive reviews of Transformers 3 always mention that it was better than the second one. The bar is horribly low. Even if you love Bay’s action in T3, the first three-fourths of that movie is incredibly boring – there’s like one scene of giant robots fighting until the very end. And the movie is 2 and a half hours long! How many nice cars and hot women do you need to see!?

Now, if you’re saying you like it ironically – so bad it’s good – I can understand. But then how can you not like the 2nd one too? It’s worse! It has hot girls, bigger robots, and more fighting scenes.

Kurt
Guest

I approve of this analysis. Bang on, JS.

Andrew James
Admin

Stay out of it Halfyard. You haven’t seen either film. 😉

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

And this underscores one of the interesting subtleties of Using Rotten Tomatoe Scores as some sort of ‘worth’ of a film, because the bulk of the Critical Reviews in the pool for each film are published/written within a specific cultural moment.

When there is an unconscious (or conscious) reaction to something in that cultural moment (as Jerico Slim’s comment outlines above) it then goes into the ‘objective’ % of Fresh/Rotten.

Thus, that 10 year window to really assess the net worth of a movie (See The 25th Hour (reacting to 9/11 proximity) and Starship Troopers (I don’t know, perhaps the 90210 – pretty actors connection made most fail to see the full-blown satire of the whole thing vs. the rise of REALLY BIG BUDGET blockbusters (Twister, Mission Impossible, ID4…)

Thoughts?

Andrew James
Admin

Agreed. By RT standards, my review of Hunger Games would be a positive one simply based on star rating, but if they came and asked me to my face, do you want to be part of the rotten side of things or the fresh, I wouldn’t bat an eye before telling them, “Rotten.”

86% on RT means it will be mildly entertaining and probably passable. 55% or 97% means it’s likely that this movie completely awesome. Anything in between is going to be iffy.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

I do tend to sit up and notice RT films at 50-55%, but I wouldn’t say that this is a likliness of ‘comepletely awesome’, more like there is a high chance that people had divergent opinion (A good horror movie like THE STRANGERS, tends to get a lot of positive reviews from the horror set, but is still written off by the critical bulk), but this is not necessarily true, another film could simply be ‘middling’

So yea, I pay attention to 50-55% but do not necessarily start salivating.

Also a 97+% can apply to a film this is not ‘GREAT’ but ‘easy to like’ – I cannot think of a lot of examples – perhaps Finding Nemo, and much of the middling pixars…?

Andrew James
Admin

I guess that’s totally true as I look at movies currently on RT that are hovering around 50% (Lorax, John Carter, Safe House). But then there is something like Womb which I am absolutely itching to see and I know you really liked. And it is sitting at exactly 50% as I write this.

As for anything 95%+, it’s pretty likely I’m going to walk away from that movie really really liking it. So maybe “awesome” was the wrong term, but you get where I’m going with it.

Andrew James
Admin

Hunger Games is at exactly 85% right now.
21 Jump Street is at exactly 85% right now.

One is objectively not good, one is objectively good.

I’m going to get in trouble for that statement. I can tell already.

Sean Patrick Kelly
Guest

You know, I honestly don’t care what other people think of the movie and how high the Tomatometer is.

If I want to see a movie, I’m going to see the movie. Critics be damned.

Andrew James
Admin

Yeah I sort of agree with this too. But I more or less use RT as a tool when I’ve not heard of a movie before. If I’m out and about and someone says, “I think ‘House of Carrots’ looks really good.” I’ll think, “What the heck is that movie?” I’ll then investigate what it’s about and then see what its RT score is. If it’s really, really positive I’ll be much more likely to go and find more info on the film.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Almost completely agree Sean, but I’ve been on the fence a few times, and I’d e lying if either people I’ve talked too (usually film-nerds) or RT Scores have put me over the edge one way or another. Plus, it’s fun to talk about this sort of minutae some times.

Andrew James
Admin

I too completely agree with this. Reiterating again that I don’t think it’s a good film. I’m not even sure I’m willing to say I “liked” it – see my review (too long, horrible humor, music is awful, etc. etc. etc. etc.). All I’m saying is that the rage over T3 is ridiculous considering what Bay has been giving us for 15 years.

But while we’re at it, Transformers 2 might have MORE of this stuff I mentioned, but it doesn’t look as good and isn’t shot as well. T3 isn’t a technical marvel, but for the first time in the franchise, you can sort of see what’s going on and what he’s going for.

Hunger Games is a different beast (for me). Far too much to get into in writing. I’ll make a go of it n the Cinecast tonight.

brittany
Guest

Please tell me Gamble will be on to break up the monotony.

Matt Gamble
Guest

You could always listen to the latest High and Low (Brow) podcast I recorded with James.

http://wherethelongtailends.com/archives/high-and-low-brow-series-3-episode-5-horrors

/shameless plug

brittany
Guest

Will do.

Rick Vance
Guest

Transformers 2 was a disjointed globe hopping nightmare. It didn’t have action outside of one 5 minute sequence.

Transformers 3 was very silly for the first chunk (this is a Michael Bay film after all). However the instant the ball is dropped the betrayal happens and the movie wants to kick into action mode it does that and stays that way for the remainder. Bay uses both the city and the technology he has at his disposal to full effect. Geographically this is the best large scale action sequence I have seen taking place in a major world city close to ever.

So I am sorry if you think that the only reason people like 3 are being ironic. 1 was boring, 2 was a clusterfuck, 3 was extreme but at the same time incredibly focused.

Jericho Slim
Guest

Focused? Transformers 3 didn’t have globe-hopping, it had planet hopping! T2 started off with a huge action sequence and had the fembot action as well. It had the same nonsensical plot and awful humor as T2. But hey, it’s Michael Bay, so just ignore those parts. What do you expect? That’s what he did in T1 and T2 so just lay back and take it.

So what you’re saying is that the last action set-piece was better.

That last set-piece wasn’t more focused than the one in T2: they both took place in one area and lasted for 30 minutes or more, and jumped from character to character, with humans running around doing things that one of those huge robots could have done much easier.

The difference is that T3 took place in a cooler setting (Chicago vs. the desert) and had buildings being blown up, and flying suit men, etc. And the action was a little bit easier to follow.

I don’t think that that is enough of a difference between the 2 movies to give one a pass and not the other.

But hey, no hard feelings. You enjoyed it, I didn’t.

Rick Vance
Guest

Focused is a relative term, TF3 was much more focused than 1 or 2 can claim to be.

Also the globetrotting aspect was a problem in two because it was all fueling a really stupid mythological robot spiritual plot that ended up becoming really bad at the end.

The conflict and the goal of the villain in TF3 was very well defined and immediate and real as were the objectives. Which help in making the action sequence have more coherence. Even if the scientific mechanics of what happened don’t quite make sense.

But I see now that you seem unlikely to judge these individual films on their own because you have some Michael Bay agenda that is cool you are free to dislike what you want. There is more cohesion and consistency and focus in TF3 than the previous films and anyone who has seen them can see it.

Jericho Slim
Guest

So let me follow your logic. We both agree that T1 and T2 aren’t good. We both agree that the first half of T3 is, to use your words, “silly . . . this is a Michael Bay film after all.” But since we disagree on the second half of that one film I have a Michael Bay agenda? That makes perfect sense.

And you’re making my point for me. You say that focused is a relative term. Relative to what? “1 or 2” (Your words)

You also say “there is more cohesion and consistency and focus in TF3 than the previous films.”

I agree with you 100%, the third film is better, but so what? The first two films sucked!! Just because the third is better than the first two doesn’t make it a “good” film.

It’s like Eddie Murphy said. When you’re starving and somebody gives you a cracker, you swear that it’s the best cracker you ever tasted. “Mmm, that must be a Ritz cracker!”

But you’re right, I have a Michael Bay agenda because I didn’t like The Island or Pearl Harbor either, and they were better than Transformers 1 and Transformers 2.

Marcus
Guest

You could fix a lot of unnecessary film arguments if more people said “I didn’t like this movie” instead of “this movie is bad”.

Rick Vance
Guest

That sounds boring though.

Jericho Slim
Guest

Andrew (or anyone), I have a question about Hunger Games that maybe you can address on the podcast, or on this post, since you read the book.

I don’t get the logic behind the games. They forcefully take away kids and then – 2 weeks later – they force all of the kids in the districts together in a huge crowd to watch the games, where a 12 year old girl could be killed by an 18 year old boy. They have peacekeepers there – which are largely outnumbered by the amount of kids forced to watch their fellow friends/district-mates get slaughtered, usually by a kid from a rich district.

And this is presented as a way to keep the peace in the poorer districts? Am I missing something?

I’m not trying to be a smart-ass, I just think that maybe the movie left something out or that I misunderstood something that the book makes more plain.

Andrew James
Admin

I can’t remember the specifics on that exclusively. But forcing them to watch the games is less of a way to keep the peace and more just a way of keeping them repressed and afraid. It sounds like you’re wondering why they simply don’t revolt. In this particular district there are reasons why they can’t. The book goes into an entire explanation of the economics and commerce of Katniss’ district. Revolting would not do much good as they would likely all starve as a result. But without spoiling things, let’s just say that the second book does explore what you’re talking about almost right away.

The reason I believe this movie was made almost exclusively for the fans of the book is because stuff like this is inferred and those of us in the know, latch on to certain things. The salute Katniss gives to the camera is a pretty big deal. Every district does their own thing and are each populated by a distinct “type” of people.

Jericho Slim
Guest

Oh, I was wondering about that salute. Thanks – I had no idea.

And I can tell by your rant up above that you’ve been listening to your boy Kermode. I can almost see your big hands waving. He had an epic rant on John Carter.

Andrew James
Admin

Ha! No I haven’t listened to Kermode in a while. But he’s got just the sort of pretentiousness that would likely agree with what I’m trying to say. And likely say it a lot better.

Goon
Guest

In the book it’s essentially punishment/remembrance for the Districts rebellion 74 years prior. They bombed the 13th District to non-existance, so the idea is that they continue to put up with this lest they be bombed themselves.

And I don’t think the situation stands up under scrutiny. I think in the books since you’re following along with Katniss in first person, it doesn’t really matter, just like how the details/reality in Children of men doesn’t matter… if Children of Men had a more open world, maybe it would also be the nitpickers delight that Hunger Games is. The capital seems to have very easily planted the seeds and provided the keys, to the revolution.

It’s a pointless comment, and not even a nitpick, but I wonder how early on in the Games people didn’t just go “uh… no?” and just unite together to not kill each other. Just sit in protest and force the gamemakers to give in and turn on each other with more significant bribes.

I wonder why they have to make an impression and get gussied up for the pre-interviews and post-interviews when people are going to be watching them starve, burn, scratch, bleed. Why would that matter to the sponsors so much? They talk about being likeable within the game for sponsorship anyways, they dont run around the game fake smiling in fire dresses there…

I wonder how Cinna managed to get a fashion designer job when he doesn’t adopt to the lifestyle of the Capital. I wonder how if the victors are supposed to go on to live better lives as champions why Haymitch has to keep coaching and then watching kids die every year

I wonder how there’s not even a debate among the Capital about the morality of the entire thing. There’s gotta be more dudes like Cinna.

I don’t get how there’s no unofficial terms for Districters within their own Districts, like “Hey, we are officially District 12 but amongst ourselves with call our selves Skenuctyferders”. The games have been running 74 years and they’ve been districts who knows how much longer before then when they werent oppressed and thus would be FORCED to only have such a plain white label name.

I dont get how a kid doesn’t break down and plead to the cameras for humanity or turn the system against itself with politically active rebellious activity within the 74 years it has run. Really, it takes so very little for Katniss to cause a revolt, she just had to be human in response to Rue and use that hand symbol, and then the government is both very very upset and very very worried. This oppressive government can be that decadent, locate themselves in one place, have all the bombs, force all the other districts into providing all their rations, for 75 years, and it takes that little to start it crumbling? It seems like they didn’t plan their Child Deathmatch plan very thoroughly. How could an evil empire be so successful in the face of such incompetence?

And of course the evil dictatorship says nothing of foreign policy, is Panem isolationist? Does Future China know what this country is doing to children? Do they care? Is there an Internet in the Capital that Cinna can complain or tweet to Future Russia about? Does the Capital have elections? Snow is a President, has anyone dared run against him on an anti-Hunger Games, pro-District platform? Has the Capital ever been in danger of collapsing from within their own border, rather than District revolution? The Districts have Mayors, are they at all Capital puppets? Do they run on promises of a Hunger games win? Or revolution?

Again, so much of this is unnecessary nitpicking and not even a real complaint. There’s a lot more relevant nitpicking over the small stuff in Hunger Games, everything from the District 11 care package to the awful wolf-child muttations (Now that’s cartoon evil)

I guess what I’m saying is that compared to even the Matrix or Daybreakers, His Dark Materials, or even Harry Potter which often seemingly makes stuff up out of nowhere. I have worldbuilding issues that are maybe asking too much from a pageturningly addictive YA novel. These are only truly more pronounced in response to the Hunger Games being greeted with much more credit for its concept and internal logic than I feel is deserved.

Matt Gamble
Guest

Sometimes a vent is just two meters wide.

Andrew James
Admin

THAT is objectively bad Space Station building!

alechs
Guest

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2010/06/14/100614crat_atlarge_miller?currentPage=all

Jumping to relevant part:
“As a tool of practical propaganda, the games don’t make much sense. They lack that essential quality of the totalitarian spectacle: ideological coherence… If, on the other hand, you consider the games as a fever-dream allegory of the adolescent social experience, they become perfectly intelligible. Adults dump teen-agers into the viper pit of high school, spouting a lot of sentimental drivel about what a wonderful stage of life it’s supposed to be. The rules are arbitrary, unfathomable, and subject to sudden change. A brutal social hierarchy prevails, with the rich, the good-looking, and the athletic lording their advantages over everyone else. To survive you have to be totally fake. Adults don’t seem to understand how high the stakes are; your whole life could be over, and they act like it’s just some “phase”! Everyone’s always watching you, scrutinizing your clothes or your friends and obsessing over whether you’re having sex or taking drugs or getting good enough grades, but no one cares who you really are or how you really feel about anything.”

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

This is the grist for the BATTLE ROYALE mill, and as satire and entertainment, BR makes a real bang-up (read: GREAT) job of it!

Schizopolis
Guest

Need advice. Gonna buy a ticket to The Raid, then sneak into a Hollywood blockbuster. Should I choose John Carter or The Hunger Games?? Thanks 😉

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Hunger Games in the conversation right now, if you are into that thing.

John Carter is ‘bigger’ in terms of shine and gloss, but is suffers from being too late to the fantasy epic party (after every other fantasy epic pilfered its images) and thus lacks a singular moment or image of ‘iconic’ or ‘awesomeness’ to push it into ‘memorable’ territory. I wanted JC to be a lot better than it actually was.

Jericho Slim
Guest

I repectfully disagree with the gentleman from Toronto-ish.

I would say JC, because at least you would have a chance to be amazed by the cinema experience (even though I wasn’t).

You wouldn’t lose anything by seeing HG on a television, whereas you might lose something by watching JC on a television.

And if you don’t like shaky cam, then JC is your best option.

Jericho Slim
Guest

actually i didn’t disagree. i said the same thing, basically. my bad.

Schizopolis
Guest

JC is more cinematic. Good point! I was already leaning towards John Carter. I know HG is prolly the better movie. But you see as chauvinistic pig, I prefer not to watch a 115 pound girl beat up grown men. I typically don’t enjoy those fantasies. So far, only Kill Bill and Ghost in the Shell seemed to get away with it….in my humble opinion.

P.S. And yes, I skipped my beloved Soderbergh’s Haywire. In the MMA world, Gina Carano was a marketing creation. The first time she actually fought a real opponent, she got KO’d in the first round. So I don’t even buy her beating the crap out of Gordon Gekko. However, Ewan McGregor is a bit light on the loafers.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Haywire is really, really good.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

To each their own, but when it comes to physical blows, the main character Katniss doesn’t do so well. This isn’t the Bride from Kill Bill, but more some one who manages to out wit her opponents. Also she’s damn dangerous when it comes to a bow & arrow.

Goon
Guest

I’d say JC but I’m in the firm minority that is in love with the movie.

Funny enough though, among all the people I’m following on Letterboxd, when I look at both JC and HG reviews, I see the exact same score range, everyone between 2.5 and 4 stars, tops, with the same breakdown. All reviews having some appreciation, and all with some degree of unique nitpicks.

I think that one is massively financially successful and one is not just might skew the narrative of both movies. If one is really successful and popular, I think people talk about it in more aggressive terms. John Carter is lauded much more defensively.

Sean Patrick Kelly
Guest

Why don’t you just buy a ticket to The Raid, then see The Raid?

Schizopolis
Guest

I very much intend to see The Raid. I meant double feature.

Andrew James
Admin

Maelstorm indeed!

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Just busted the 100 comment barrier.

Gord
Guest

Slightly off topic (If there is one?) is MAMO doing the summer blockbuster contest this year?

DavidM
Guest

What the… ? No way am I going to read all this. Just wanted to chip in way down here and say that I enjoyed the show (remember that?).
A lot of your feelings towards The Hunger Games chime with my own. As unevenly paced and occasionally vague it could be at times, I really enjoyed this movie. There are many reasons why I liked it – a handful of terrific scenes; the hallucination scene, underlining Katniss’ vunerability, the salute to the camera her defience and so on – and most of them come down to Jennifer Lawrence. This is a star-making performance for her, she brings such quiet integrity to the role that she elevates the whole thing.

Has anyone talked about the overall look of the film yet? How it compares with the sheer ugliness of recent blockbusters – the dreary brown-on-brown of John Carter, the washed out blue/grey smear of the later Harry Potters, the orange & teal look that prevails in all Michael Bay-type headbangers. It’s such a relief just to see grass, sky, faces etc in their natural colours for a change.

Despite being a YA dystopian fantasia, it tackled a broad range of topics in the issues it paralleled/tackled: from how the bread-and-circuses of Rome is echoed in today’s reality TV shows (mildly interesting sidebar: HG is set in the country Panem – bread-and-circuses in Latin: panem et circenses), to any struggle against a totalitarian regime you care to mention, though the tragedy currently unfolding in Syria, and the whole recent Arab Spring, is the most notable comparison.

The shakey-cam did seem out of control at times, it doesn’t ratchet up the tension, it just irritates. Obviously it was mostly used to disguise/suggest violence which couldn’t be shown, but otherwise it was distracting.

And, yeah, the poisonous nature of the backlash to this has been suspiciously swift and vicious. There’s a distasteful agenda lurking in much of it, and it reeks. People have made fools of themselves in this regard, but that’s their lookout.

Overall, The Hunger Games works. It’s a little shonky and clunky here and there but it’s also that rare beast: an intelligent blockbuster, free of smugness and cynicism.
And on top it it, J-Law looks damn good wielding a bow and arrow.

Andrew James
Admin

Hey David. We got pretty into the look of the film on last night’s Cinecast.

I’m not sure what this venomous backlash taking place with an agenda is that you speak of. The sites I frequent don’t seem to have that vitriol – certainly not around here. If there are reasons not to like it, there are reasons not to like it; and I don’t think those include any kind of a agenda against the film. It’s simply style, craft and narrative choices that some of us don’t think worked out too well.

DavidM
Guest

I wasn’t responding to anything on this site – and I’ve only skipped across this thread like a stone. It is out there though, and it sounded as if the Mamo guys had also come across some. Which is all that prompted me to write that.

I myself have a list of nitpicks about HG that’s as long as my shadow – most of which can be boiled down to thinking that Gary Ross may not have been the best person to direct this, despite the fact that he did make a few choices with the film that I really dug. But…

I await the next installment with mixed feelings – I’m sure many of the ‘problems’ with part one will be fixed, but will the more daring choices made be kept or expanded upon, or will it go down the usual bigger-louder-genericier route?

DavidM
Guest

It slipped my mind before, but, seriously – no-one’s talking about the amazing score on this? Wonderfully haunting electro-acoustic music by Steve Reich and other left-field composers.
It’s impressive the way this film avoids bombast and obvious choices, kicking it well clear of most if its blockbuster contemporaries.

DavidM
Guest
Andrew James
Admin

Very cool, David. I hadn’t known that before. Kind of annoying to just sit and listen to, but within the context of the movie, you’re right: that added a lot of ambience and punctuation.

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Goon
Guest

My weird fascination continues.

Since I listened to the audiobook after the movie, and since I’m recording on Sunday finally with my co-hosts who enjoyed it a lot more, I thought as i did my Wii fit I’d play a *cough*magicallyprovided*cough copy of it, not as a true proper rewatch, but to get a better sense of how it plays now that I can fill in the blanks.

I will bluntly admit it plays better. I will refrain from nitpicking it visually since it would be thoroughly unfair given the nature of my rewatch, but now as someone who’s read the books and has been obsessing a tad much over the worldbuilding and details of Panem, I have lots of other nitpicks, like how they cant decide if the tributes have names or are to be dehumanized into just numbers, how the Seneca Crane/Snow storyline awkwardly plays out between the “tradition/healing” idea and Snows “hopecrusher”, and more “why didnt they…” game stuff, like how the Alliance could have totally taken down the alpha male Cato when he had his back turned failing to scale the true. Stupid Careers.

So its not a 1/5 anymore, its more like a 2, I could even go 2.5 without feeling bad about it, but it required this new context for me to get there.

Andrew James
Admin

Does anyone out there who has NOT read the book understand why some people have more names in the lottery than others? No? This is one more example of why the movie was made to cater to those with the novel under their belt.

Like why even mention it in the movie if you’re not going to explore it or explain it? Just leave it out. For me personally, I’m glad it was brought up – but only because I know what the hell they’re talking about.

Goon
Guest

I didn’t even notice it to go “what the hell are they talking about?” the first time. But noticed it in rewatch.

Sean Patrick Kelly
Guest

From what I got from a single line in the film, your name is entered in the lottery every time you accept food from the government (which I’m also guessing is the origin of the name “Hunger Games”)

Is any of that correct?

Goon
Guest

sort of. its also cumulative, so with age you have more entries in the lottery. this keeps less 12 year olds from being selected. So Prim only had her name in, like, once? but Katniss and Gale are between 30-45 or so entries.

Logic bomb: If everyone just agrees to take shitloads of food from the government, they would all have shitloads of entries in the lottery, but the same percentage chance of being chosen. in 75 years one of the districts shouldve been smart enough to abuse the system!

Jericho Slim
Guest

goon, reading your earlier long post and also just the questions that I had in general, this world has a lot of holes in it.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

Only not everyone is starving, even in District 12 there are people like Peeta Mellark who get plenty to eat. They would have no reason to take extra entries for additional food. Also when for people like District 12 where it’s generally a death sentence, I doubt you could get everyone on the same page. Just a couple of people could lie, go hungry and have better chances in surviving.

Goon
Guest

It doesn’t come across like that in the movie when everyone is in such simarly tattered clothes and looks equally poor. if some people are wealthier than others they didnt bother showing a range.

Within the context of the movie, it’s odd to hear that everyone’s starving but Peeta from D12 is not only a bakers kid, but that they do icing, fancy skilled icing which can be used as camoflage technique.

I remember listening to some positive review on a podcast, saying that Katniss was fit and healthy and thus it made her heroic… but in the books she’s starving by the end and starving in the beginning. She packs on weight before the games by eating a lot in the Capital.

Side nitpick: Because of the way they show Peeta giving her the break in a few seperate flashbacks in the movie, I thought more would be coming, or that maybe it was leading to some key flashback relevant to the plot/outcome at a later point in the film.

Jericho Slim
Guest

That’s what I got too. But it would be easy to miss it because it was addressed in one line by Katniss’ at home boyfriend.

Jandy Stone
Guest

We just got back from it (before I read this comment), and yeah, I had no problem gathering that it was a combination of age and amount of food accepted by the government. The number of times someone’s in the lottery was mentioned at least three times (Katniss telling Prim it was her first year so she was only in it once, Gale telling Katniss his name was in 42 times, Katniss telling Prim not to take extra food from the government so as not to have her name put in more times), so it didn’t seem skimmed over at all to me. I actually kind of liked how subtly they handled information like that, letting us piece it together instead of overindulging in exposition.

In fact, I didn’t feel like there was anything I didn’t understand at first time through. Like all these glaring things someone who hadn’t read the book wouldn’t understand – either they weren’t noticeable enough to stand out, or I did actually get them. I enjoyed the movie quite a bit; really the shakicam was the only thing I didn’t care for. The one thing I can see that might’ve detracted from it if I HAD read the book is what I’ve heard about how much interiority Katniss has in the book. I liked her a lot as a character in the film, but there were times (especially toward the end) that I felt like I would’ve liked to be inside her head a little more.

In any case, I definitely liked it enough to want to find out what happens in the next one.

Goon
Guest

“Like all these glaring things someone who hadn’t read the book wouldn’t understand – either they weren’t noticeable enough to stand out, or I did actually get them.”

I dont understand how anyone could really understand whats going on with the arena I was unsure if it was part or fully holographic or if it was real, based on Cesar’s dialogue about previous versions and the fact that the fireballs seemingly come from nowhere and the mutated dogs come right out of the ground after we have seen them being drawn up in the game room as if they were just recently designed.

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

I assumed it was real in the sense of being physical (holograms couldn’t affect the players physically, as they certainly are both by the fireballs and the dogs), but contained and easily manipulated – like The Truman Show with more advanced tech. I didn’t think too hard about stuff like the dogs; I just assumed they had the technology to fabricate them on the spot from the computer mockup. The second set really did pop up rather quickly, though.

So if that was explained more fully in the book, fine and well, but it wasn’t something that detracted from the movie for me.

Goon
Guest

In the book the dogs aren’t dogs, they are wolf-children hybrids made out of the corpses of the dead tributes. So Katniss looks into the eyes of one of the dogs, the runt one, and recognizes that the mutant wolfdog thing is Rue.

it’s…. stupid.

Kurt
Guest

Please, Please, Please, I implore you to read Alastair Reyold’s CHASM CITY to get the awful taste out of your mouth on this.

Sean Patrick Kelly
Guest

I say they are holograms – with the safety protocol turned off (yeah, this is a very Trekkie answer :P)

Matt Gamble
Guest

I’m sure Goon hates the holodeck episodes too.

Goon
Guest

Apples and oranges.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

I don’t think the book explains how the arena works. They describe previous arenas with different surroundings, but it’s unknown if it’s the same place done up different. All the books are from Katniss’s perspective so anything she doesn’t know about, the reader doesn’t find out about. So the scenes of the people running the arena were never in the book, but added in the movie.

Jericho Slim
Guest

One last Hunger Games question to someone that has read the book:

I’m assuming that usually the games take weeks to complete, because of the dialogue about starving and dying of thirst. So the peacekeepers are forcing the eligible-aged children in the districts to watch the games the whole time as a group, correct? If so, then, ironically, the watching children are being fed the whole time by the government so they won’t starve? And where do they sleep?

If this is the case, then the Hunger Games as a control mechanism would make more sense, because this would be a time that the children of the poorer districts would celebrate. If they weren’t chosen, then they would have a few weeks of steady nourishment and safety.

Goon
Guest

I’m not sure they really got into that, after all the books are from Katniss’ first person perspective.

Remember also the games are 24/7 and there’s no sense that Tucci and Jones take a break either. Doesn’t mean they did, but the selective cutaways to the people watching kinda gets in the way of the world building.

Andrew James
Admin

I really don’t remember anything in the books about the people being “forced” to watch the games. Maybe there was and I forgot it. I think it was more like an event that you can’t look away from (like the Super Bowl).

So the people in the districts are not being fed by the gov’t. From what I gathered people went on with their daily lives for the most part. They just watched the tapes of the games later. So they still ate their own food, stayed in their own houses and slept in their own beds.

And I say tapes because I remember a bit in the book in which Katniss did something the gov’t didn’t like and they edited it before airing.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

Once again as Goon mentions, it’s from Katniss’ perceptive so you don’t see how people are watching the Hunger Games. I don’t think it’s spelled out so you are left to fill out the gaps yourself. I had thought it was something along the lines of displays set up everywhere and people would go on their daily lives, but couldn’t help but end up watching it.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

(Just FINALLY listening to the actual show here)

I saw Jennifer Lawrence in person at the Toronto WOM screening of Winter’s Bone, and she was credibly down-to-earth, amusingly self-deprecating, and seemed an all around decent human being. Which instantly endeared me to anything that she is in. I guess I’ll watch HUNGER GAMES eventually…

p.s. (WES BENTLY is flat out awesome in McCabe and Mrs. Miller-esque Michael Winterbottom movie THE CLAIM)

Sean Patrick Kelly
Guest

I first saw Wes Bently in AMERICAN BEAUTY, didn’t see him again in a film until GHOST RIDER.

Yeah….

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Battle Royale referencing is still worthwhile to me, because if it gets older teens or beyond to watch the Fukasaku movie, or read the Koushun Takami novel. Then that makes me happy.

I’ll happily keep mentioning the two in context.

The Running Man is fabulous, and I’m still itching for a THE LONG WALK film, or daring HBO series to really play things out…

Goon
Guest

I would reference Battle Royale just in regards to how the teenagers react to the situation they are given. The BR kids have a much more varied, more satirical bent. There is still the obvious difference of whether or not they knew each other first, and that the HG kids grew up knowing what they might face, but I still feel BR for all its flaws holds more true to how one might react facing the kill or be killed scenario

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