Director Gary Ross
Stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth
Things You Might Like
- A believable execution of a dystopian future
- Unabashed violence
- A strong female protagonist
- Excellent portrayal of Suzanne Collins’ universe
- Woody Harrelson playing a drunk jerk (so real!)
Things You Might Not Like
- Jarring cinematography in the action sequences
- Some iconic elements from the novel aren’t present
The Hunger Games provides an engaging glimpse into a dystopian future where children battle to the death in murder olympics.
4 out of 5 Odds ever in your favor
In the grim future, there is only war. Okay. Sorry. That’s the wrong universe and, actually, that’s not really true at all in The Hunger Games. Rather, The Hunger Games takes places 74 years after a truly bloody internal struggle turns a once united land into the nation of Panem. Comprised of 13 Districts (each with a particular type of occupation) and a capitol, aptly named The Capitol, Panem is governed by the ruthless and calculating President Snow, portrayed by the perpetually radical Donald Sutherland. After the revolutionaries were struck down by The Capitol, a brutal punishment was established to remind the districts “of their treason”. Aka, don’t forget The Capitol is in charge.
In addition to making most districts live in abject poverty, every year since “The Peace”, each district offers up one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 (chosen at random) to fight to the death in “The Hunger Games”. It is important to note that in the movie only 12 Districts are represented. A detailed explanation is not provided, but the book will inform you that District 13 was bombed into oblivion by The Capitol after an attempted rebellion. By the way, do read the books. For as entertaining as the movie is, the protagonist’s, Katniss Everdeen’s, inner monologue adds so much more to the story and provides a great insight into the minds of the people living out this nightmare.
Now, as the trailer will tell you, Katniss ends up as a contestant, or Tribute, in The Hunger Games. Though not called upon to do so, when her sister Prim is selected, Katniss quickly volunteers herself as Tribute to save Prim. With a background as a hunter and outdoorswoman, she naturally has a better chance of surviving. This scene was flawlessly executed in the film. Lawrence’s portrayal of Katniss felt as though it had incredible weight, especially here. Chosen as tribute for the boys is Hutcherson’s Peeta Mellark, a boy with whom Katniss has an interesting past. Once chosen, the pair meet Haymitch (Harrelson); their mentor and a sullen drunkard who once won The Hunger Games. From here, the pair set out to on a two week training regimen in the hopes of increasing their odds of surviving. Then, it’s off to the games…
Let me start by saying this, The Hunger Games deftly pulls off Suzanne Collins’ vision from the novels. I recall several scenes in the movie that matched almost perfectly with those in my head-movies. From the dismal and depressing depiction of District 12, Katniss’ home, to several lethal areas of the arena, The Hunger Games fully realizes the world of the Panem. Not only is the set design expertly crafted, but the depictions of the citizens of Panem, specifically The Capitol, are quite laudable. In the novels, Capitol citizens have taken cosmetic surgery to discomforting levels via dyeing their skin and hair in colors that only exist theoretically. The metropolis’ pampered menagerie starkly contrasts the colorless atmosphere of District 12.
And while The Hunger Games can be entertaining to behold, you may have some difficulty beholding some scenes in the movie; namely, the action scenes. It seems a trend in Hollywood to make combat a blurry, frenetic mess. I guess this is done to make it seem more “visceral”? I don’t know when this started (though I’m sure my fellow writers here at Bullet Reviews could pinpoint it exactly), but I am quite sick of it. If two (or more) people are fighting to the death and I’ve paid to see this, I may want to actually see it at some point. At several points in The Hunger Games, I felt like the cameraman left his cellphone on top of the camera and someone called him while they were filming. Did you ever try to watch a cable channel back in the 1990s that your parents hadn’t subscribed to? It’s like that.
Despite my protestations regarding some of the “camerawork”, the majority of The Hunger Games is excellent. Some of the deeper story elements are glossed over due to the limitations of the medium, but overarching themes are adapted into film quite well. While the violence, especially since it involves kids, might not be the best option for younger viewers, older teens and adults will be able to comprehend the complexities and context wrapped up in it. Bottom line: Go see The Hunger Games now! When you get back, read the books, too.