Dumb things everyone ignores about the Hunger Games

From launching the career of mega-star Jennifer Lawrence, to kicking off a franchise that became one of the biggest of the past decade, to just plain being an awesome flick, The Hunger Games did a lot of things right. But, when it comes down to the mechanics of this world, and the decisions of some of those contestants, there are a few things about the teenage battle royale that left us scratching our heads:

Why didn't they just burn down the tree when Katniss was trapped?

Once the Hunger Games actually get underway, Katniss' plan to hide and run seems to be working pretty well — at least until she's pushed toward a pack of other contestants and winds up climbing a tree to hide. This isn't the worst idea: she was out of options, so she went up. But, that's when things get really dumb: the contestants on the ground make a half-hearted effort to climb and get her, then fire (and miss) two arrows at her. Then … they pretty much give up and decide to wait her out (admittedly at Peeta's recommendation, who was secretly trying to keep her safe).

So, they make a fire under the tree and make camp. If they're making a fire for camp, why not just light Katniss' tree on fire and smoke her out? Or, you know, change positions to get a better shot and fire off a few more arrows. How does wasting half a day camping out under her seem like the logical option here, no matter how convincing Peeta's argument might sound?

Peeta is a master artist from ... decorating cakes?

Peeta may not be the most useful guy with a weapon, but he sure is one hell of a painter. Peeta shows off his camouflage artistry during training, and again uses it to go incognito after suffering a pretty substantial sword wound to the leg. We're told he picked up this extremely rare and impressive skill by … decorating cakes at the District 12 bakery. Really now. The amount of effort and talent it would take to create that spotless camouflage is a whole lot more than you'd pick up by writing "Happy Birthday, Here's a Coal Cake" a few times a week with an icing squirter.

What kind of insane treaty did these districts sign?

We're told the Hunger Games were born out of a treaty signed by all the districts following the last war, but where exactly did they come up with the idea for each district to sacrifice two of their children in a mass, teenage slaughter? Like, governments have signed a whole lot of treaties over the years in the real world, and not many of them included a teenage murder match in the fine print. It's obvious the Capitol now uses the Games as a way to control and distract the other districts, but how did that get adopted in the first place? Why not just set up some good old-fashioned Olympics or something?

How convenient is that giant beehive?

When Katniss is trapped up a tree and just hanging out, Rue gets her attention and points out there's a giant beehive of genetically engineered, killer wasps just a few feet away … sitting directly above where her attackers have set up camp. Boy, that's convenient, right? Did Katniss not check out the surroundings once she got up there to see if there was anything useful? She had been up there a while by this point.

Also, when the other contestants were shooting at her, did they not bother to glance up before setting camp? Yes, we're glad Katniss made it out with her life and just a few hallucinogenic stings, but it all seems a bit too contrived to pass the smell test.

So no one else has ever volunteered before?

When Katniss volunteers for the Games to save her little sister Prim, we're told in dramatic fashion that she is District 12's first volunteer in history. Seriously, no one else has ever volunteered, for any reason, up that point? It's always been forced on them by the Capitol? We're not buying it. First off, you'd think some other older sibling would have run into this same situation, and would certainly have considered making the same decision Katniss did. Not to mention the fact that the people of District 12 are literally starving to death, but if you compete in the Games, you at least get to live it up in luxury for a few weeks before battling to your very-likely death. If all you have to look forward to is probably starving or freezing to death in a coal mine, it doesn't seem like the worst option. Hard to believe no one had considered it until Our Hero got herself a head lightbulb.

Haymitch's alcoholism just kind of ... vanished

When we first meet Haymitch, he's pretty much useless to Katniss and Peeta. He was drunk, snarky, and showed pretty much no interest in helping these young tributes figure out how to survive when the fighting begins. Then, the next morning, that lovable scoundrel Woody Harrelson seems to have replaced this sassy drunk dude with a good, well-rounded character. That change happens literally overnight, almost as if they decided after that first scene to tone it down a bit. Or, maybe all Haymitch needed that whole time was a hearty breakfast?

The tech doesn't match up

Yes, we realize the various districts are separated among the haves and have-nots, but the technological discrepancies from district to district border on the absurd. When Katniss goes to the market in District 12, it looks like something straight out of the 1800s, with the most advanced piece of tech being an ancient tube radio someone hocks in the background. But, then we get a peek at the Capitol and the richer districts, and they have everything from holograms to those cool flying ships. It's the Jetsons and the Flintstones, in one convenient world.

Now, this is obviously a world with cooler, more advanced tech than we have today, but even if District 12 is poor as dirt, at least some of that would be reflected. Not to even mention how District 12 is the mining district, and they seem to be operating at the same level as guys digging for gold in the 1800s. Wouldn't it be infinitely more efficient to use some of that advanced tech to ramp up the mining operations?

That magical forest fire

We're told a whole lot of effort and planning goes into the arena for the Hunger Games, but this deadly Truman Show is bordering on just-plain-silly. For the most part, it makes sense, with a lot of cameras hidden around in the woods and trees. But then, Katniss starts getting close to a wall, and they turn on a crazy forest fire capable of dropping burned trees with pinpoint accuracy. Oh, and this forest fire can also shoot Bowser-style fire balls for some reason. It can also be turned off with the push of a button, because why not. Yes, it makes for a cool action scene, but the mechanics of this thing are positively ridiculous.

Did nobody prep these other contestants?

The start of the Hunger Games is a total bloodbath, with the vast majority of the contestants making a run for the cornucopia to try and get supplies … and getting slaughtered in the process. Luckily, Haymitch had told Katniss to skip that death trap and head for the woods. So … did no one else ever get that fairly obvious piece of advice? It's no surprise the bigger and stronger contestants from the richer districts make a play for the supplies. They're the ones doing all the murdering, after all. But a lot of the smaller and weaker contestants think they'll be able to just stroll through Machete Avenue and grab a backpack without a scratch? If they've ever even watched the Games, they should know that most everyone who makes a play for supplies dies. How was heading for the woods not the obvious strategy from Game 2 on?

The politics make no sense

When committing to a big, sci-fi world, you typically have to dispel some disbelief along the way. But that takes a whole lot of effort when it comes to the Hunger Games. The nation of Panem is divided into different "districts," each typically with their own particular skill or use (i.e. a coal-mining district, a fishing district, etc.). But the first film offers up a whole lot more questions than it does answers in regards to how this is actually a functional society.

Like, we're told there was a revolt a long time ago — fine. But if the Capitol pretty much rules these poor districts with an iron fist and leaves them in broken squalor, how are there not more riots? How have all of the districts not already come together to take on the Capitol again? How did they settle on this terrible form of government in the first place? Also, if you want these people to keep digging out your coal and catching your fish, you should probably set up a system where you feed them enough to actually have the strength to dig it out, right? There's no worse worker than a straving-to-death worker, you know.

The monster dogs go against the spirit of the Games

Yes, the Muttations (Muttations? What is this, The Punger Games?) go back to the books, and make for a cool action set piece for the big finale. But, regardless of the medium, they really go against the entire spirit of what the Games are supposed to represent. It's supposed to pit young contestants against one another in a battle of the fittest — just releasing these evil monster dogs to mow them down doesn't mesh with that at all. It certainly represents how the game makers can (and do) manipulate the Games at will, but how have no Panem residents not once complained about these cheats? We wouldn't be nearly patient enough to wait for a Hollywood starlet to save us all — we'd have taken the pitchforks to evil overlords and mutant pups alike midway through Day One.

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