The Hunger Games (2012 film)

The movie that spawned 100 sh*tty bow and arrow-themed tv shows.

The movie that spawned 100 shitty bow and arrow-themed tv shows.

There was a ton of hype surrounding this film. So, I was expecting “The Hunger Games” to be decent at a minimum. While the acting and directing are mostly passable, the writing and story are so irritatingly nonsensical, they proved to be far too much of a distraction for me to enjoy the film at all. The film takes place roughly 200 years in the future. Apparently, during those 200 years, some serious biological de-evolution took place. Human Beings have somehow reverted back to some kind of Naziesque state of society – where there is no empathy whatsoever for fellow mankind. And this lack of empathy seems to be at its worst in the most educated parts of society. Hmmm. I’d love to hear the story of how that came to pass. But alas, we are never treated to an explanation for this, or any other head-scratchingly bizarre presumptions made by the film.

The movie does not reduce people to robots – rendered incapable of caring about anything. They still dote on their own children, and seem generally motivated by life and laughter. Yet, strangely, they seem unable to feel any empathy for non-rich people’s children. Curious how that works. While this phenomenon does exist in some way in the real world, I’d like to think of this behavior as the exception, and not the norm. I see human consciousness as an ever-evolving hive mind. What separates us from apes, is that we pass information and lessons on to future generations. We stand on the shoulders of past inventions and intellectual progress, and have become more empathetic and tolerant with time – not less. If you look back at human history, this is an indisputable fact. And there is absolutely no reason why this social evolution would not continue its progress through time. This movie provides us with no explanation for how or why people, all of a sudden, are no longer susceptible to traditionally unwavering human behaviors and emotions.

Here are characters who possess exponentially advanced technologies, but no history books.

Here are characters who possess exponentially advanced technologies, but no history books.

Speaking of logic…. There are so many other things that defied the balls out of reason. So, a bunch of kids all know that only one person will survive the hunger games. Yet, in the face of death, these kids are still oversleeping, and worried about social politics and romance. Well, on second thought, maybe that is kind of realistic.  But, you see my larger point – The audience can’t relate to ANY of these characters or motivations. So, how am I supposed to become engaged with the film?!? I liken this frustration to that of watching a horror movie where some moron character commits an act of mental atrocity almost no human being could ever be capable of. What kind of person hears the sound of a knife sharpening in the basement at 3am and thinks to themselves : “Hey, I am going to go investigate this ominous noise – completely alone, unarmed, and in my panties”.  You just lose your mind watching writing that is so counterintuitive to reality. Also, apparently these aristocrats aren’t in need of any security around these killer teenagers in training. So to recap, you rip teenagers away from their families, they know they are going to die in the very near future, you arm them, and then provide yourself with no security. The brilliant assumption being made here is that no one will ever try to Columbine your asses. Riiiiight. Makes perfect sense that all of them will always be motivated to compete with a cheerful, carefree spirit – as if it were a middle school field hockey game. All good sportsmanship and no desperation. Yeah. Okay then. I would think it would be similar to the dangerous instability of a prison environment, where even if you leave a stray toothbrush out, they will instantly turn it into a shiv and kill as many people as they can. Imagine what would happen if the prisoners were actually innocent of any crime, forced into detainment, and then given knives and arrows after being told them they would all be dead in a few days no matter what. Oh, and they have open, unguarded access to attack their captors. According to the Hunger Games storyline, everyone gets along fabulously without incident.

Our behavior and dialogue make absolutely no sense. Enjoy the show!

Our behavior and dialogue make absolutely no sense. Enjoy the show!

Don’t get me wrong here- I’m all for suspension of disbelief. Some of my favorite movies are sci-fi and horror. For instance, in a world with zombies, there is a whole slew of new stimuli that people must react to. There is a new set of rules that exist in this fantasy world, but human instincts and motivations should still provide reactions to the new variables that are of the familiar and relatable variety. This way, the audience can identify with how your characters move through this alternate universe of possibilities, and become emotionally engaged. “The Hunger Games” really sucked some major wang at accomplishing this feat.

The main thing I can’t wrap my head around, is how no one else seemed to be bothered by everything I brought up in this review. This movie was a major hit, and so were the books. Perhaps my brain isn’t an optimal lens through which one should view entertainment. Or, maybe the books do a much better job at explaining how this world could possibly come to be, while the movies just don’t have time to bother with that information. But, since I haven’t read any of the books, I guess I’m just fucked. Just like this piece of shit movie is.

Overall rating : 1.9/10

– JA

Django Unchained (2012 film)

It's never good when you can just look at a movie poster and know exactly what happens.

It’s never good when you can just look at a movie poster and know exactly what happens.

Sigh. Oh, Quentin. Just like my previous article on the G.A.S. Index, there must be something with fresh creativity taking a dive once you hit a certain age in life. This is the first time I’ve seen clear signs of a downward turn from Mr. Tarantino. Let me begin by declaring that I am a fan of much of his previous work. But, this was some kind of watered down hybrid regurgitation of his prior filmmaking – just using a new setting and characters. “Django Unchained” was less of a peanut butter and chocolate revelation, and more of a flaccid Frankenstein with Tourette’s. While we still got treated to a tension packed soliloquy from a menacing bad guy amidst some kind of meal (as we have in all his other films), it lacked the unpredictable freshness of the intertwined storylines that we’ve come to appreciate from him. Speaking of which, based on this repeated theme, I’m guessing his family dinners growing up must have been a bizarrely fucked up experience for him. He might want to talk to someone about that. The bottom line is : he needs to pick either his over the top Grindhouse/Dusk Til’ Dawn style, or go with his darker, more slick Pulp Fiction/Inglorious Basterds method of delivery. He can’t simply throw them together. Or, maybe he can, but this wasn’t a successful blending and he needs to try again.

The acting was terrific – great casting and great performances. There were a few “haha” yukks and a few “eewww” yucks as well. The beginning of the movie was much stronger than the ending. I felt quite intrigued as a got to know Django(Jaime Foxx) and Dr. King Schultz(Christoph Waltz). In particular, the first few scenes are quite gripping and amusing at the same time. But, as the film wore on, it became quite apparent where this was all headed. A predictable rap-blasting montage of white devil carnage. Not that there’s anything so bad about that, but I like a little dinner with my dessert. Consequently, I left feeling quite “blah” about the whole thing.

This is how I felt inside as the credits rolled.

Sam displays a physical manifestation of how I felt inside as the credits rolled.

Usually, I have a lot more to say about a given subject. But, in the name of artistic Hammurabism, I’ll end my article with the same creativity and substance that Quentin used in Django – Eh, it was okay.

Overall Rating : 5.5/10

– JA