New York and NPR critic David Edelstein has delivered one of the better rip jobs on…I was going to say The Hunger Games but his criticism is really all about director Gary Ross and his expedient white-beardo ways. Here’s the audio.
Ross “has a penchant for showbiz satire,” Edelstein says, “pleasant in Pleasantville but ruinous in Seabiscuit — a great book about the torturous underbelly of horse racing turned into a lame, movie-ish period piece . He approaches The Hunger Games like a hack. The film is all shaky close-ups, so you rarely have a chance to take in the space, and the editing is so fast you can’t focus.
“The film gets some things right, like the shots of Katniss running through the woods, the canopy of trees above her streaking by. And it has an astoundingly good Katniss in Jennifer Lawrence. She’s not a chiseled Hollywood ing√©nue or a trained action star — she looks real. And without words, she makes it clear that Katniss’ task is not merely to stay alive but somehow to hold onto her humanity.
“A few other actors register in spite of the speed-freak editing. Josh Hutcherson has a strong, sorrowful countenance as Katniss’ fellow District 12 contestant, Peeta. Stanley Tucci in a blue bouffant as a talk-show host, Wes Bentley in a manicured black-fungus beard as the games’ high-tech coordinator, and Donald Sutherland in a white mane as the demonic lion of a president are all you could hope for.
“There’s a terrific score by James Newton Howard that captures moods — wistful, mysterious — that the director fails to evoke. The Hunger Games leaves you content — but not, as with the novel, devastated by the senseless carnage. It is, I’m sorry to say, the work of moral cowards.”