If you read the book it seems like you will like it decently. If you did not read the book like me then you will clearly see that the movie fails to properly explain itself. The characters are fairly boring and their interactions barely become interesting.
While watching 'The Hunger Games' I couldn't help but think I could have been watching Gladiator again, and actually enjoying myself.
They have such similar ideas. Slaves forced into killing games, audiences that find it entertaining and government heads that struggle to keep the popularity of the people due to the noble exploits of the main character. The difference is Maximus is a much more compelling character with a more complex goal. Gladiator is essentially a revenge film. We want the main character to venge Commodus because he is an extremely wicked man who has deceitfully taken the emperor's crown and affectively destroyed Maximus's entire life. The antagonist is a real challenge to the protagonist. We are not sure if Maximus's lawful nobility and brawn will be able to overcome the villain's unruled evil and wit. Maximus must learn to patiently outwit the villain in a game without rules as his physical strengths are literally drained from him. That's dynamic and interesting. The true power of Gladiator though is that it elevates itself beyond a mere revenge film. The theme is not about justice, but about inner peace. While the main character loses his physical battle he wins in his spiritual battle.
So is Hunger Games a revenge film? No. Alright so what is its motivation? Survival? Alright, so the goal is to not die, or in reality show terms, not get voted off. Okay, I guess that is...maybe interesting.
Also where are the character dynamics being challenged in the Hunger Games? Seneca Crane (guy with the crazy beard) is much like Commodus in that he is a sniffling young jerk who is trying to please the greater body of people, but why? He doesn't even seem to be the real ruler. President Snow is the real ruler, Crane seems to be a mere jester. In Gladiator Commodus's character is established by him killing the Emperor, his own father, so that he can keep the kingdom out of Maximus's hands. Crane meanwhile does absolutely nothing. He's some rich brat just like Commodus, but as far as we know he hasn't done anything evil, he is simply allowing these killing games proceed, just like everyone else watching. He hasn't personally killed anyone, and he never personally sought out to ruin the main character's life, this futuristic society in general did that. So is society the real villains here? So what does that make the people actually gleefully watching this film? Do they not perpetuate this sense of thrill in seeing children kill each other? Even if this is accurate the sense of a real antagonist is never present and is fairly obtuse and intangible.
Oh right, there are those blood thirsty children from district one and two right? So what is so compelling about them? They are trained killers that we assume are better off, at least they act like rich bratty equivalents of high school jocks and cheerleaders. So I guess that would make bookworms naturally hate them. Where as Katniss is a poor, personally trained killer from West Virgina, uh I mean District 12, who doesn't...like killing other children. So how exactly is this compelling?
At least with Commodus we get the feeling that he has deeper goals. He wants power, but he also wants to be well liked by the people of Rome just as his father was. How does he try to achieve this? He brings Gladiators back into the Colosseum because the citizens enjoy the blood sports. This backfires because it brings Maximus back into his life because he has become a slaved fighter.
The main evil kid from District 1 is tall, mean and slaughters a bunch of kids. Obviously he wants to win, but why? It isn't because he is afraid of losing, he volunteered for this blood fest after all. If he wins will District 1 give him 40 young virgins? Will he get a treasure? Will his father finally love him? Why would other people team up with him? He is obviously going to kill you, the rules say there can only be one winner after all. Things aren't adding up.
I feel like what should have happened is that because Katniss is such an awesome hunter the capital city requests that she 'volunteer' for the Yum-yum Games because the previous season they had fairly poor viewer ratings and they need to make sure they have a much more dynamic game of challengers in the next season. She obviously refuses. So weird beard secretly sends in District 1 killer kids to slay Katniss's younger sister and prozac popping mother. They accuse her of murder and the punishment for murder is automatic qualification for the din-din games. Gale (Katniss's true love, but you wouldn't really know it in the movie) does everything in his power to get his name in the raffle as many times as he can so he can get selected and help save Katniss. (Which is way more interesting then giving her a piece of starchy bread.) But Peta, savior to animals, gets picked instead. Katniss's opposite in every way possible. Oh how he hates that Peta...but he's so freakin hot! Isn't that a more compelling plot? Of course it is my silly book reading, uncultured cinematic children!
Oh, and one more thing. Why should I care so much about the cute little african american girl being killed? I know, she was a doll, but that's it. The main character bonds with her for about three minutes of screen time. So I don't believe their shallow relationship whatsoever. In Gladiator when one of Maximus's friends die we have spent much more time with them, time in which a bond beyond whistling has been established.
Educate yourselves please.