The Hunger Games
ANOTHER review of "The Hunger Games"
Unless you’ve been living on the remote outskirts of civilization, you’ve undoubtedly been seeing and/or hearing coverage about the latest best-selling book turned movie, “The Hunger Games”. As someone who, on the advice of a good friend, read the entire trilogy and who looked forward with some hesitation to the film adaptation, allow me to tell you if they made a successful jump from page to screen.
THE GOOD: The film is based on the book “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins---with the follow up novels “Catching Fire” and “MockingJay” to round out the trilogy. The story is set around a young woman named Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence) who is growing up in a civilization named Panem. After the existing nations of North America are destroyed by catastrophe, Panem rises from the ashes and is ruled by the Capitol ---filled with wealth and narcissistic people--and surrounded by 12 “districts” that are powerless and poverty stricken.
As the movie begins, there is the opening scene of the annual “Hunger Games” ritual, where each district is required to supply two child “tributes”—one male and one female—as a penance for the attempt of a previous uprising. These 24 young people are then placed inside an arena to fight to the death while cameras capture their every move. It satisfies the entertainment quota for the Citizens of the Capital, and reminds the districts of their helplessness. From District 12 we watch as Katniss and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) are chosen to fight, and follow them to the Capital where they are prepped and made over in a twisted form of celebrity ending with an appearance on a talk show hosted by Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) who interviews each tribute with compassion and humor, all in the name of entertainment for the citizens of the Capital. These people are so caught up in their abundance of EVERYTHING, as well as their appearances, that they are completely oblivious to the fact that these are actually children being taken from their families and dying in the most brutal manner. It’s frightening and appalling…and it makes a great story.
All the tributes have a mentor---someone who has fought previously in the games and won--- and Katniss and Peeta are somewhat disillusioned when they meet theirs: a drunken mess of a man named Haymitch (played by Woody Harrelson). Haymitch is responsible for giving them tips and pointers on how to succeed in the arena, and although you can’t help but be doubtful of his usefulness, Harrelson nails the character beautifully.
THE BAD: Obviously, watching a movie about children killing each other is disturbing, and if I didn’t find an underlying message to it, I would consider it nothing but gratuitous violence. However, I found that the story seems to teach, on at least some level, the dangers of a government becoming so large that only a select group of people have rights and privileges, while others are left with nothing. Do I believe that a government could become so out of control that it would actually sacrifice children as a form of entertainment? My “I like to believe the very best about people and their intentions” side says “no of course not”, but you have to admit it’s not a far stretch of the imagination for it to happen when you look at what other seemingly rational and advanced civilizations have been capable of -------and this is what makes it both an intriguing story and one that is difficult to watch.
Please be warned that the film has been rated PG-13 for a reason---and although I know lots of people whose children below the age of 13 have read these books, there is something very powerful and upsetting about watching these scenes play out on the big screen. If your child is younger than 13, I would highly suggest going to see the movie WITHOUT them first and then making the decision of whether or not you want them to watch it, based on your judgement of their ability to handle it. My 10 year old daughter will not be watching it—in the theater, or on DVD---for at least a couple more years.
THE UGLY: It’s hard to choose which scene in the movie is the MOST graphic, because when children are involved, all death scenes are horrible…but the one that I felt the most nauseated
by was during an attack of “Tracker Jackers” which are lethal bees, and the damage they inflicted on the victims. I would suggest that if you have bee allergies, you take a bathroom break around that time……hit the concession stand……something.
As a huge fan of these books, I was admittedly a little skeptical that they could be made into a film that did justice to the powerful images that played out in my head while reading them. I am thrilled to be able to tell you that, for all intents and purposes, they nailed it. If you have read the books, I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed with the final results. If you are one of those who have not yet read the trilogy, you will still find the movie enjoyable and well done----but do yourself a favor and read the books before the next installment-----“Catching Fire”---- comes out next November…..you’ll be glad you did.
The Trophy Wife gives this movie 4 ½ trophies.
The Hunger Games has a running time of 142 minutes and is rated PG-13 for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images. (No F words)