Movie Review: The Hunger Games (2012)

Posted: April 16, 2012 in Drama
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In the future, the country of Panem is divided into 12 districts.  A boy and a girl from each district are chosen as tributes to play in the Hunger Games.  If they are chosen they get to have regular meals, a rare treat in a country ravaged by war.  But they must battle to the death, until only one survives.  Primrose Everdeen (Willow Shields) is chosen as a tribute.  Her sister Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) thinks Primrose is too young to be a tribute, so Katniss volunteers to be a tribute, along with another boy in her district, Peeta Melark (Josh Hutcherson)  Peeta has unrequited feelings for Katniss, but doesn’t reveal them until the tv show starts, and then the host of the Hunger Games, Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci plays up the romance in the hopes of big ratings.  Katniss’ mentors, Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) and Cinna (Lenny Kravitz)  want Katniss to grab the attention of the head gamesmaker, Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley) so she shoots an apple off  Crane’s head. The stunt gets Katniss the top score of all the tributes.  Peeta is also chosen.

As the games progress, and the tributes are killed off one by one, Katniss is drawing closer to a young tribute named Rue (Amandla  Stenberg), who undoubtedly reminds Katniss of her younger sister.  The two of them bond and are soon inseparable.  Katniss is also growing closer to Peeta, as she nurses him back to health from numerous attacks. Is Peeta really drawn to Katniss, or is he just using her to make her vulnerable and kill her so he can win the Hunger Games?

In a day and age of extreme politics (Tea Party) (Occupy Wall Street) and “reality” tv it’s easy to picture society devolving into such televised savagery.  Just cross the Roman Coliseum with Survivor and you’ve got a show like the Hunger Games.  That’s the appeal of this movie, we’re so close to something like this happening, and it hooked me right away.  There are weaknesses to this movie, the love story is drippy and syrupy, and there is an obvious attempt at creating a love triangle for later movies.  It’s pretty obvious who’s going to survive, and who’s not.  The Katniss/Rue story is extremely manipulative and predictable, despite all these shortcomings, the dystopian society is never far away and that’s the draw for me.  The characters were pretty thin, other than Katniss Peeta, Rue, and Haymitch.  Here is where the acting kicks in, unlike the Twilight movies.  Jennifer Lawrence did a damn good job of carrying this movie on her shoulders, and while Josh Hutcherson is bland and unappealing, Woody Harrelson totally inhabits his role as a drunken former superstar tribute.  He’s having fun and the audience is having fun with him.  Elizabeth Banks is also fun in a small role as the prim and proper Effie Trinket. Amandla Stenberg is undeniably cute as Rue, and Stanley Tucci is a riot as the hsot of the Hunger Games.  I liked that this movie didn’t take itself too seriously and lightened the mood every once in a while.  There is a lot of violence, some of it pretty graphic, and some CGI that’s pretty scary, I wouldn’t want kids to see this, this is purely for teens and adults.

The Hunger Games. Watch it play out.

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Comments
  1. Saw it again last night, liked it as much on DVD as in the theater. Well worth a rent, not for the love story, but for the harsh dystopian socierty it depicts.

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