Gerald Wright's Movie Coverage
THE HUNGER GAMES MOVIE REVIEW
Directed by: Gary Rose and Steven Soderbergh (2nd Unit)
Running time: 142 min.
Release date: March 23, 2012
Genre: Drama, Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Adaptation
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screenplay writers Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, and Billy Ray adapted this film from Suzanne Collins' first book of the bestselling trilogy novels published in 2008 titled, The Hunger Games. Just like the books, the movie explores the effects of war and violence on those coming of age.
The Hunger Games takes place after the destruction of North America by some unknown apocalyptic event, in a nation known as Panem. Panem consists of a wealthy Capitol and twelve surrounding, poorer districts. District 12, where the film begins, is located in the coal-rich region that was formerly Appalachia.
Like most of the nation of Panem, Katniss Everdeen, played by a forceful and beautiful Jennifer Lawrence, lives in one of the twelve enslaved districts, ruled over by a mystery-shrouded Capitol. After decades of chaos and war, the Capitol suppresses the people under the thumb of a harsh yet decadent dictatorship. Every year, on Reaping Day, each of the districts must choose, by lottery or volunteer, one boy and one girl to represent them in the Capitol's twisted idea of grand entertainment that proves its total control. It also giving the famished populace the faintest ray of hope to hang onto. These are the Hunger Games - an intense gladiatorial competition between 24 adolescent warriors known as Tributes. The competition is broadcast live on TV until only one survivor remains.
The unthinkable happens when Katniss' little sister, Primrose (Willow Shields' film debut), whom Katniss has helped to feed and care for much of her life, is chosen for the Games. In a brave, self-sacrificing move that she knows might seal her fate, Katniss volunteers to take her sister's place. Instantly, she and her new co-Tribune, the baker's son Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), are taken into custody, whisked to the Capitol and thrown into glamorous makeovers and grueling training. They are readying themselves to be pitted against the ruthless "Career Tributes," who hail from the wealthier districts and have prepared for the Games their entire lives.
The Hunger Games is an action film that includes high energy, big-budget physical stunts and chases, with rescues, battles, fights, escapes, destructive crises (explosives, fires, natural disasters, etc.) non-stop motion, spectacular rhythm and pacing, and adventurous often two-dimensional 'good guy/gal' heroes battling 'bad guys/gals' - all designed for pure audience escapism. Jennifer Lawrence shines in this role as she exposes the intense reality of 16 year-old Katniss Everdeen, who must try to survive - by sheer wits and will alone - in a future world that is at once high-tech and apocalyptic, glitzy and primal.
The plot took me on a journey of visceral excitement as I watched her find strength to resolve enormous stress under the most extreme pressure a teenager could imagine. Yet, Jennifer Lawrence captures a teenage girl's life-changing experience with the breathless pace of a sci-fi thriller. The themes explored are personal sacrifice, the question of where her society might be headed, and a star-crossed love/reliance. The love/reliance effort is shown in the fine performances by Josh Hutcherson as Peeta and Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne (Katniss' true love left at home).
The key roles of this feature provide the audience with an abundance of lively enjoyment. However, the supporting cast members of Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy, Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, and Lenny Kravitz as Cinna add juice to a powerful story. Giving even more to the roster of the cast is the celebrated performances of Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman, Toby Jones as Claudius Templesmith, and veteran thespian Donald Sutherland as President Snow.
My only problem with this film is the chemistry (or lack of) between Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson. It is hard for me to digest their relationship on screen. However, the performances by the ensemble, the crisp pacing of the stimulating plot, and the great character development and interaction makes up for the lack of chemistry displayed.
The Hunger Games is a movie that was so convincing, it had me thinking about it long after I left the theater!
FILM RATING (A-)