The Hunger Games

Hollywood’s occasional exploration of reality shows has always been interesting,

entertaining and fiercely foreboding. Portrayals of a society under an oppressive govern-

ment that rules by fear, in tandem with a sadistic “game” show that helps in holding the

citizens in line (think Arnold Schwarzenegger’s “The Running Man”), can be extremely

thought provoking. We should all thank God, as I do, that we don’t live like that here in

America.

For the most part, we’re all accustomed to seeing grown men and women in vi-

cious, bloody combat whether it be real or imaginary. But in the world of the Hunger

Games, it is literally children, who we consider precious and apparently do not have a

“normal” childhood, that take up the lethal weapons of armed conflict and are forced by

the powers that be, to grow up more rapidly. It’s an incredibly merciless environment that

no child, pre-teen or teen, should have to experience.

In any case, author Suzanne Collins has bestowed a pressing view of the future,

mixing sci-fi with the intricacies of social politics, friendship and romance, buoyed by

plenty of action. Romance is part of the story, not the central focus. Unlike a certain pop-

ular movie series that has it’s own love triangle involving werewolves and vampires, the

Hunger Games is basically about survival.

North America as we know it, is gone. Natural disasters have taken what is

probably the  heaviest toll on our lands and the people. Florida, the majority of Texas and

the entire western part of the former United States are completely under water due to

advancing ocean tides, mitigating most , if not all flooded areas suffered before.

Rising from the ashes of this devastation is a new nation called Panem. Occupying

what is left of the U.S., it’s divided into 12 industrial districts (power, lumber etc.). But

unlike former America, Panem is decidedly, not a democracy, and only the top one per-

cent seem to enjoy most of the benefits. Doesn’t the latter sound familiar?
The Hunger Games was the autocracy’s hardened response to a mass rebellion

years ago. No pun intended, but apparently there was still a hunger for true freedom. Now

each district must render up a boy and girl within the ages of  12 thru18  for this annual

televised event where kids, dubbed tributes, must compete in a no holds barred contest of

strength and skill. The only reasonable amount of comfort stressed out parents have is

that they’re chosen lottery style; a ceremony called the Reaping. Twenty-four warriors,

one victor.

Despite 12 year old Primrose Everdeen’s  first time entrance into the bowl of

names, she becomes a “lottery winner.” District 12’s new reluctant tribute. However,

according to the rules, another may step up to take her place. In a frenzied commotion,

Prim’s 16 year old sister, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence),volunteers along with the district’s

chosen boy tribute, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson).

It is considerably uncommon for a movie adaptation to rightly equal the  impact of

it’s literary counterpart. Thankfully, director Gary Ross is more than up to the task. Spor-

ting a running time of just under 2 ½ hours, The Hunger Games is doggedly faithful to

Collins’ tome for concerned meticulous fans of the best selling trilogy. And it always

helps when the author co-writes the script.

Jennifer Lawrence, who so wowed audiences and critics as Ree in 2010’s Win-

ter’s Bone, she earned an Oscar nomination for best actress, infuses Katniss Everdeen

with that same vibrant spirit. She even gets to hunt and cook squirrels again. But she

knows as she dashes out into the game arena at zero hour, that squirrels won’t be try-

ing to kill her. Indeed, Lawrence’s huntress is vulnerable, yet not one dimensional, see-

ming to find it easy to shift from gentle kindness to forceful brutality when necessary.

Rooting for her are some of the most interesting people anyone could meet if they

were authentic. There’s the alcoholic and former games victor, Haymitch (Woody Harrel-

son ) who sadly, is not half the drunken sop he was in the book; Cinna (Lenny Kravitz),

the promotional/marketing genius, always there when Katniss needs someone to talk to;

and of course everyone’s favorite happy person, Effie Trinkett (Elizabeth banks) whose

24 hour high persona would wrack even the most joyful person’s nerves.

Veteran Donald Sutherland is a charming old adder as President Snow, relishing the

absolute power he has over Panem and it’s citizens. No one is immune to his judgment.

Including game maker Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley), assigned the monumental and deli-

cate task of  insuring the Hunger Games run as their supposed to.

As I mentioned before, this movie is not about a young girl’s agonizing choice be-

tween two boys, in this case Josh Hutcherson’s Peeta and Liam Hemsworth’s Gale. Not-

withstanding, it does provide a softer tone for those wary parents who may be hesitant a-

bout letting their children read the books or see the movie. Lack of affairs of the heart

will probably make The Hunger Games appealing to boys as well as girls, which means

both genders will be “hungry” for more.

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