Hunger Games vs Battle Royale: The Fact of the Matter
After watching both movies, and reading multiple online debates, I find the similarities of both franchise negate the one glaring truth...
With the hunger games video release just around the corner I can't believe there's still debate over which is better - "Hunger Games" or "Battle Royale".
"Hunger Games was a rip-off of "Battle Royale" or "'Battle Royale' was better/more realistic..." ."Hunger Games has better characters"- and so on and so on...
Well, I 've just seen both movies practically back to back - and I found both films leaving something to be desired. Both share the same basic premise - (y'know - some kids fight each other 'til the death) but the subtextual message is different for each film.
In "Battle Royale" it's about how the adults have failed to prepare an habitable future for their children and as a result have left them to fend for themselves - figuratively in society and literally on the island where a high school class face each other to the death.
"Hunger Games" however - deals with a government attempting to placate and systematically oppress the masses by televising the competition and deaths of randomly chosen children from each district. The capitol of the government lives in opulence while the rest of the populace struggle with poverty and unemployment. Here the children don't know or care to know each other - whoever survives wins a lifetime supply of money and food apparently.
Now there are other themes to both films to be sure - But in watching both of these films back to back, I couldn't help but feel that each movie would have been better served if it had taken cues from the other. That is to say - "Battle Royale" would have been better if there were a stronger story and motivation given to the main protagonists, such as what was done in the Hunger Games.
However, the "Hunger Games" suffers because the viewer doesn't care about any of the contestants other than the main protagonists. In some respects that may seem to be an obvious point , but "Battle Royale" had stronger and more complex relationships amongst the contestants making each death tragic - not just "oh - well that wasn't the main character anyway so why should I care?" sentiment I was left at the close of the "Hunger Games". Sure the "Hunger Games" had at least one death I felt kind of bad for - but that was mainly because it was one of the few other characters I got to know in the movie. If you have 24 characters and you focus on 3 or 4 of them - you're pretty much forced to root for them as you can't relate to anyone else in the movie.
Still there are always some that will say - "oh - but you need to read the book(s)." To this I say "Nonsense". Unless the theatre or video store is going to provide me a copy a week before I see the movie, That is the most ridiculous argument I've ever heard. Both Franchises have books to give generous back story,character motivation or whatever. That's fine. However that shouldn't be necessary to understand the $14 movie I'm watching. When I went to see "The Avengers" this summer, I didn't say to anyone - "Man you need to read those Roger Stern issues of 'The Avengers' to understand whats happening." The movie stood on it's own - it's either good or it ain't - and if you're left with questions or a general malaise after you've seen a movie - then it didn't really do it's job.
In the end - both movies could have been better developed - and the rabid fan bases for each franchise need to see each movie for the flawed product that they are. Here's looking forward to GOOD self contained entertainment at the movies.
Until next time - this is Betaray-Syr, swingin' for the stars!
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