Let’s just get this out of the way: Jennifer Lawrence is not a good actress. She is a microcosm of the original “The Hunger Games” film as a whole — a film that thinks it has smart things to say and new ideas to preach, but merely parrots other far more established, exciting and intelligent material. It is an amalgam of films and books that far outperform the Frankenstein’s monster that is this tired and lazy film.
One of the most worthy pieces of source material used to create this awful film was the original “The Hunger Games” novel by Suzanne Collins. This is one of the many cases where the original novel was markedly better than the film based on on it.
This is not to say that the novel is without problems. In fact, it has many problems in common with the film. It has an uncanny amount of themes and story elements in common with Stephen King’s work, “The Running Man” and a Japanese novel named “Battle Royale” by Koushun Takami. Both of these works happened to be adapted into quite good movies. The themes of television and media culture, along with the aimlessness of modern youth are nearly lifted wholesale from these two pieces.
However, Collins’ novel has its strengths. The combination of these themes makes for a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. The result of this is Katniss Everdeen, one of the most empowering and interesting heroines in modern popular culture. Katniss is the lens through which the audience sees the struggle of the underclasses in the fictional country of Panem, with the story being told from her perspective in first person.
This is the brilliant and subtle conceit of the novel. “The Hunger Games” is not just about television and youth — it is also about Marxist theories of class warfare and socioeconomic stratification. Katniss is the glue that holds these theories together. She is the reason why the novel is so great and why the movie is such an unredeemable piece of garbage.
“The Hunger Games” film does away with Katniss’ first person narrative and monologue, leaving the audience to watch as she wanders around the woods. This is to be expected. Film is a visual medium and the creators of the film had to show, not tell. However, when the filmmakers took away the monologue, they forgot to show us anything about Katniss through her actions. This leaves her a boring and undeveloped husk of a character.
It doesn’t help that the quality of the direction and cinematography would make the creators of “Sharknado” blush with shame had they been the ones who made it. Not to mention that it is embarrassing that “The Avengers” gave Hawkeye more interesting things to do with arrows in one 15 minute action scene than the creators of “The Hunger Games” gave Katniss in an entire movie.
The biggest problem of the film was stated outright in the introduction: Jennifer Lawrence is not a good actress. She slogs through the film, her boredom at the idea of acting in this movie opposite the audience’s boredom at watching her. The fact that “The Hunger Games” managed to continue as a series after this film is a crime at worst and a surprise at best. Read the book, if for nothing else then to see how badly the film desecrated it.