“The Hunger Games” Pays Tribute to the Book
Reviewed by Jason Gregg
Does it really matter what I write for the next 700 words? I am sure you have already made up your mind to see “The Hunger Games” or not. If you read the book I have a feeling that you either want to see it or you don’t regardless what you read here. If you are like me and you have read the book (and loved it) you will feel an obligation to see the film.
After you decide that you want to see the film, I feel the real question then becomes – Why?
Is it because you want to see the love triangle between the three young characters? Is it for the vision of the dystopian future of America? Is it because you want to go along with the crowd? Is it because you will see more than 20 children die for your entertainment? (I really hope it is for the love triangle).
Set several years in the future in District 12 the story begins with our lovely yet bold heroine, Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence). She, along with her entire District is dirt poor, think of “Little House on the Prairie” set in the future. She has a close relationship with one of the townsfolk, Gale (played Liam Hemsworth), who is in extremely good shape for being in a starving town.
Thanks to the opening title we know that every year “The Hunger Games” are held, 24 children are chosen (also known as Tributes, one boy and one girl from each District, ages 12-18) to battle it out to the death with the last boy or girl standing. This is to remind the 12 Districts that it is wrong to stand up to The Capitol. The Capitol is the Big Brother of the future, the ruling class lives the good life while the 12 outlying Districts struggle to contribute to the Capitol. The day of the Reaping is upon the Districts, where Katniss’ little sister is drawn in the lottery to participate in the Games. Katniss panics and volunteers to take her place.
She is soon whisked away with the boy from District 12, Peeta (played by Josh Hutcherson). Katniss with her stone cold personality wants little to do with the boy she will eventually have to kill. They are coached by Haymitch Abernathy (played by Woody Harrelson), one of the winners from District 12 from long ago. His job now is to stay drunk and coach Tributes.
There is much pomp and circumstance to parade these 24 children in front of the residents of The Capitol and the rest of the nation. They are interviewed by affluent, eccentric host Caesar Flickerman (played by Stanley Tucci). Think of him as the future version of Ryan Seacrest who interviews the Tributes to offer a semblance of humanity to these games.
After all is done, our Tributes begin the 74th annual Hunger Games in an arena designed to test their limits and to give the viewers a good show. The arena is a forest setting where Katniss feels right at home. For the next hour the movie audience is subjected to children hunting each other with very quick camera work to show the death (murders) of their victims.
All along Katniss and Peeta are developing a mature relationship, not only because they might have feelings for each other but because it also gives a good showing to their viewers where in turn they receive helpful prizes to aid them along the way. As with any good reality TV program there is enough conflict to hold your attention until the grand finale.
Should you see this movie? If you read the book, you probably already made up your mind. If you have not read the book, you will still be entertained by it without knowing if the director, Gary Ross (“Pleasantville,” “Seabiscuit,” “Big”), left any vital elements out of the plot.
Also know that if you decide to see this movie you will be seeing more than 20 children die for your entertainment. This is not a movie for the faint of heart. With the PG-13 rating it is still a close call if this movie is suitable for all ages above 13.