Monday, June 16, 2014

Shaky Camera Not Cutting It In Last Year's Hunger Games

Shaky Camera Not Cutting It In Last Year's Hunger Games

A Rachel L'Antigua Critique

It is remarkable how far the film industry has come in the area of special effects and filming techniques. As little as thirty years ago, films like E.T and Indiana Jones were the cream of the crop for films with special film techniques. Nowadays, a film with superior effects and techniques is released at least every other week. In this day and age it takes a film being extraordinary in the area of effects or extra-awful in order to stand out from what has become the norm.
         I would like to review one such film; a film that stood out to me, while in theatres, as extra-awful in the area of effects. This film is none other than The Hunger Games. Don’t get me wrong; I love Peeta just as much as the next girl, but the awful camera angles throughout the film just weren’t cutting it for me. In fact, instead of feeling lovesick over the attractive men in the film, I felt sea sick from the shaky camera and bizarre angles.
         According to Film Racket, “While we like to think of it as a recent development in the history of cinema, directors have been experimenting with handheld camerawork as far back as the ’40s. Usually employed for a singular effect, it wasn’t until the ’60s, and the dawn of the cinema verite movement in documentaries, when filmmakers in general felt they could employ the device to feature -length ends. Now, handheld photography is a regular part of the Cineplex experience, especially popular with action films and horror offerings employing a first-person POV perspective to up the audience’s identification with the events onscreen.”
         I have no question that the director’s had good intentions with their seemingly strange POV filming (especially within the first 30 minutes of the film). However, they simply failed to fulfill their goals. I believe they had desired to use the appeal of pathos through their filming style by appealing to the viewer’s sense of vitality. By vitality, I mean that the director’s hoped that the weird camera angles would somehow make the viewers feel as if they were seeing the action first hand. For instance, the opening scene of the movie shows a shaky camera focusing on Katniss hunting. What is perhaps most annoying about this scene is that it had so much potential; the hunting scene could have introduced the viewers to Katniss’s brooding personality but it instead hastily flipped between the huntress and her prey in a haphazard mayday. Not surprisingly, the viewers surrounding me audibly complained about feeling dizzy and confused by the camera jolts.
         The director’s were probably banking on the majority of the audience reading the book before seeing the movie. In fact, they were probably hoping that the ethos appeal would work, in that the filming angles would make the film seem more credible as it would be more closely related to the books and characters. However, this appeal fails miserably because in actuality both of the main characters, Katniss and Peeta, are arguably extremely rational, calm, and steady people. They are not flighty, nor are they “all over the place” as the camera filming implies.
         Finally, the film used the logos appeal by using the shaky camera and strange angles to appeal to the viewer’s sense of logic. For example, obviously a person’s sense of sight is not as stable and flowing as a steady video camera. Unfortunately, this final appeal failed as well since viewers don’t want to have to think to hard about what they are watching.
         In conclusion, director, Gary Ross, should have stuck with the tried and true method of normal camera angles and left the use of shaky POV up to Blair Witch’s project. Poor Gary; I guess he didn’t know his methods would cost him the rest of the film trilogy. Did I mention that he got replaced as director for the second film? According to, “Catching Fire is now in director, Francis Lawrence’s steady hands, and gone are the previous film’s needlessly spastic camera moves.” Like they all say, “you win some, you lose some”; however, usually our losses don’t equal as much as the bizarre filming cost The Hunger Games. Needless to say, I give the film’s shaking camera angles a one out of three rating; mostly because I feel bad for them. In reality the film shouldn’t even receive a 'one', but let’s keep that between you and I.

Sidenote: I tried to find some normal photos; but everything was blurry because of the shake...


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