Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Theater Review: The Hunger Games

"Next time on Survivor..."

Those words kept ringing through my ears as I sat and watched this film. As a society, I hate to admit it, but we may be closer to this actually happening then we may think. Which is sort of scary.

Let me preface this review by stating the obvious: I did not read the book. If you are a frequent reader of my posts you should realize that by now. I know, it's odd. A writer that hates reading? Yes, it's true. That is me, I am an enigma. I live under the mantra if it is good enough they will turn it into a movie. And, that always seems to be true.

Thankfully, Mrs. Kano is an avid reader and is usually well versed in all of these books once the movie actually hits. And, if there is something that I did not grasp - or she feels I need to know something that was missing from the film - she will tell me. But, there wasn't much missing or that many questions at the end of this film. Which leads me to believe the filmmaker adapted it quite well.

The one aspect of the film that I did need to ask about, but really had no great answer was The Hunger Games itself.

In the future, there appears to be two societies: the filthy rich and the stinking poor. The rich live in the Capitol while the poor are put into 12 different districts. War is apparently something of the past - this is where I get a bit confused - so now the people must offer up children as some sort of sacrifice.

Each child from the ages of 12-18 are put into a raffle. Every district then selects a boy and a girl that will be considered tributes and will fight to the death at The Hunger Games. Last one standing will be allowed to live, and apparently gets a lot of added perks as well.

But, your name doesn't go in the raffle once. If you, say, need more food at some point during the year, you can get some but your name will be added to the raffle a few more times. So, your chances of being selected become greater. And, this happens every year from the time you turn 12 until you turn 19.

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is now the provider of her family. Her father was killed in a mining accident and it made her mother (Paula Malcomson) go a bit crazy - and at one point catatonic. So, using the skills her father taught her, Katniss hunts with a bow and arrow to provide for her mother and sister, Primrose (Willow Shields).

The Hunger Games selections has come and both Katniss, who is 16 and Primrose are up for selection this year. Primrose has just turned 12 and is being offered up as a tribute for the first time. Her name is in but a single time.

Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) comes from the Captiol to put on some sort of selection show for the people of District 12, where Katniss and Primrose are from. The first selection as tribute is Primrose. But, sparing her sister's life, Katniss volunteers herself. Something that has never been done in that District before.

Joining Katniss from District 12 is Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). They are whisked away after just a few minutes to say goodbye to their loved ones - despite the odds being very high that neither will ever return home.

As a district they get a 'coach' and theirs is a former winner of The Hunger Games, Haymitch (Woody Harrelson). They are also given a makeover artist, Cinna (Lenny Kravitz).

As if the premise of the film isn't dark enough, The Hunger Games are actually like watching a reality show mixed with a boxing match. It lasts a handful of days, but people are actually placing bets for the winner, and each of the tributes - there are 24 in all - is given an odds in winning number.

Once in the Capitol, the tributes are marched in front of everyone and even interviewed by tv personality Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci). They then train and are ale to live comfortably with a nice place to stay and lots of food to eat. Finally, they showcase their talents to a select amount of people to gain their 'odds'.

Then, the Games are on.

I absolutely loved this film. I thought each cast member brought so much to the table and the story was remarkably interesting.

My lone complain was I felt it was a bit Truman Showesque in the fact that Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley), who is the head game maker, has the quality of Ed Harris' character in The Truman Show. He manipulates too much of the Games for my liking. If you are already putting people into this environment to, basically, kill everyone, then let it play out without putting your own touches on it. Sure, make rules and boundaries if you want, but once the Games begin just let it happen.

But, for that to be my only gripe in a movie that last 142 minutes I'd say it is pretty good. And, I am very excited for the next films to be released.


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