“The Hunger Games”, Rated “PG-13″ for Adult Situations, Mild Language, Some Graphic Violence. Running Time: 2hrs.22mns.
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Stories like this are great at making social commentaries about a caste society’s impact on people. During the McCarthyism of the 1950s, Ray Bradbury and other science fiction writers used the conventions of these dystopian worlds to discuss ideas and morale tales with their readers. The format was a way to discuss war, sex, politics and religion by dressing these stories up in such a way that they would be passed off as “fantasy” or “make-believe” to get around the era’s intolerances for points of view that were considered inappropriate or even un-American. Today it is easier to openly discuss these grand themes people without fear of prosecution. People are hungry for these kinds of stories and I suspect they will never be out of vogue.
Proving my point, The Hunger Games Movie currently has the third highest grossing opening weekend at the U.S. box office (following “The Dark Knight”  and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2″ ).
Based on the young adult novel of the same name, “The Hunger Games” takes place in a future that is far beyond its post-apocalyptical origins. Where the North American countries once were is now the nation of Panem with a grandiose capital and elite ruling class. Far beyond the city limits are 12 impoverished districts.
To keep the districts in check, the ruling class has devised “The Hunger Games.” They serve as both a harsh reminder of the previous world, before the “ages ago” post-nuclear horror, and to quell any potential uprising against the elitist government. Through a lottery, each of the 12 districts must offer both a boy and girl between ages 12 and 18 as “tributes” to fight each other to the death in a woodland arena until only one child.
This being a form of reality entertainment, tributes require sponsorship endorsements much like NASCAR drivers do. The financial and popular support from the viewership helps to foster an interest in the perils of our youthful gamers. Anything for “must-see TV,” I guess. These gladiatorial games are televised live to the world with cameras hidden throughout the arena to capture every single movement from every single participant. Safeguards and arsenals are in place to keep the “tributes” on task and prevent their escape.
Skilled archer and hunter Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence, “X-Men: First Class“) is very protective of her younger sister Primrose (Willow Shields, “R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour“). So much in fact, Katniss becomes is the first volunteer to enter into The Hunger Games in lieu of her sister’s defining lottery drawing. Also from District 12 is the dopey-eyed Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson, “Journey 2: The Lost Island“). The two kids are acquainted with each other, yet Peeta has underlying feelings for Katniss. How will this impact the outcome of this year’s Hunger Game?
President Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland) leads Panem mercilessly, though he projects a public image of calmness and congeniality. He is not too thrilled about how the Head Gamemaker Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley, “Underworld: Awakening“) is handling the affection between Katniss and Peeta in front of global viewers. After all, there is world to keep in line.
Suzanne Collins wrote the original novel. She was reportedly inspired to write the book by flipping through television channels. She noted a reality show on one channel and a military invasion on another. With some Greek influence added, she was able to conjure a story about loss, heroism and also make a social statement on poverty, starvation, oppression and the devastating effects of war on people.
The themes from Collins’ book are present in the screen adaptation and are handled well. The culture of the goal-mining District 12 reminded me of Amish communities in terms of plain dress and simple living. It is interesting to note the book is published by Scholastic, which from my childhood were the books that you used to send away through a grade school book order. Funny to think Scholastic are now the ones behind a teen-aimed fable where young people carve out each other’s entrails on live TV in return for riches. My, how times have changed.
In spite of the positive reviews and strong box-office numbers, “The Hunger Games” is drawing criticism on allegations of racism, sexism and unrealistic body image. I don’t think the movie intends to be anything more than a commentary on social classes, such as wealth and poverty. These have been absolutes from the dawn of the world.
Though it is a good movie, “The Hunger Games” feels a little incomplete. The set-up is good, but I know there is more to this story. The novel is followed by two sequels “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay.” As of this writing, the second book will be made into a movie and released in late 2013 and I have no doubt a third movie will be made. I suspect when “The Hunger Games” is viewed in the context with the other two stories it will be more rounded and complete.
The Hunger Games movie is a satisfactory fable with solid performances and good action. It’s refreshing to see a movie targeted at teen audiences that is witty and engaging. The “Team Edward” film series springs to mind. After all, the themes of war, starvation and poverty are a stark contrast to “Does my sparkly vampire boyfriend like me?” “The Hunger Games” does things right and whetted my appetite for more. I’m sure the upcoming installments will be the payoff. So far, the trilogy is off to a decent start.
Watch The Hunger Games Online
Watch The Hunger Games Movie Online
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The Hunger Games Trailer
Watch The Hunger Games Online