Friday, April 13, 2012

The Hunger Games

It's a dim future, where the government determines that, in punishment for uprisings among the 12 districts 70 years ago, one boy and one girl from each are chosen from a lottery and will fight to the death until one remains. All on television.

You won't recognize any of the kids from this movie, chances are, except for the lead girl, Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence (so memorable in Winter's Bone). The adult roles, though, are played by seasoned veterans like Stanley Tucci as the TV spokesman, Caesar, and Woody Harrelson, as Katniss' mentor, Haymitch. Both of these veteran male actors bring volumes to their parts, and add so much to the storytelling.

It took me awhile to get into the story, but that's because it starts out very slowly, painting a dismal picture of a world full of fading hope, where food is hard to come by, and their children are at risk every year. What's interesting about this film is how much build-up there is to the games. It seemed that half the film was devoted to the preparation of the 24 kids for the games. Measurement, honing of skills, mentoring. And that's fascinating. When the games begin, you wonder how any of them can survive.

Since the youngest can be 12, I thought it amazing that there were no 12-year-olds, save Primrose, Katniss' young sister, who was chosen but for whom Katniss took her place. Everyone else seemed to be 16 or 17. And they all seemed like killing machines, save for Katniss' district male counterpart, Peeta, who only has one thing going for him: strength. Strength doesn't help much in the forest, which is where they're placed. As it's pointed out to the "tributes," many die just because of wounds sustained while in the wilderness. And, if that weren't enough, government forces change a few things, just to make it interesting. After all, it's prime time.

This is a fascinating look into a future that prizes fashion and entertainment above all. Are we there yet? Do we enjoy reading these books, watching this movie, just to see teenager hunt down and kill teenager? I'm not sure.

But, definitely, this is a thumb's up.



At 2:20 PM, Blogger Sheryl said...

Did you read the books? I did a while when they came out (to talk to my daughter about them - she LOVED them) I thought the movie was a pretty representation of the book. The book also had a long set up of how hard life was for the districts - actually how hard the Capital made it for the districts to keep them under control.

I don't remember if they explained in the movie - but your name is put into the pot more than once - it gets added again every year and you can trade food for putting your name in extra times. So it makes sense for most of the kids chosen would be older.


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