In a culture where series and their rivals overtake the box office and pre-teen bookshelves, one in particular has managed to captivate more than just a single shallow demographic. The world-wide phenomenon, “The Hunger Games,” that set the world on fire-no pun intended-was finally released on film to an awaiting and ever-growing fan base on March 23.
In the post-apocalyptic dystopia of Panem, basically what is left of a futuristic North America after cataclysmic years of war, its “glorious” city, the Capitol, seeks to punish its citizens for rebelling against the government. This yearly event, known as the “Reaping,” chooses one boy and one girl against their will between the ages of 12 and 18 from each of the nation’s twelve districts to participate in the Hunger Games. The games consist of 24 “Tributes” who must then train in order to survive the harsh wilderness and attacks they face all while trying to kill each other to the finish.
The actual plot follows Katniss Everdeen, a girl who volunteers herself as Tribute to save her sister, and her journey, which along the way reveals how truly corrupted and sick the society is.
Sounds delightful, right? Somehow, it makes for an impeccable story line that permanently keeps the audience on edge. I also want to apologize for that lengthy plot synopsis to all the readers who know the story already.
Coming from a back-seat fan of the series-or at least the first book that I’ve read so far-I already had my vision of how the movie should play out, naturally, and it turned out to be so much more than I anticipated. I was actually really impressed by how much it respected the book and its dialogue.
I haven’t gotten around to finishing the Harry Potter series, but I’ve heard “The Hunger Games” follows its origin more closely-which to any book-to-film buff like myself is a huge tip-off. I can so see this series of movies challenging the likes of “Twilight.”
The director, Gary Ross, whose name is plastered on such projects as “Big” and “Seabiscuit,” expertly gave the book justice. The scene that shows the very start of the games was perfectly executed and still haunts me as much as it did when I read it. While it was much more vivid in my mind, there certainly is nothing more visceral than actually watching it real-time.
The acting was top-notch as well, with an impressive bill that included Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth as the main younger characters. I really hope this movie will win some kind of recognition for the talented makeup and costume teams, seeing as though Stanley Tucci and Elizabeth Banks went almost unrecognized with their futuristic getups.
As much as I enjoyed it, there were a few parts that I felt were less than stellar. The flaming clothing-while a crucial plot point-was down-right cheesy. In addition, I feel like too much was revealed in the trailer because the pivotal moment when Katniss steps in as Tribute is anti-climatic at best.
The story also braids a love story between Lawrence’s character, Katniss, and Hutcherson’s persona, Peeta. It’s a great addition to the plot but is not overly beaten to death like many fan flicks tend to do.
Now I want to go into something a little touchier: the themes of the story. It touches on the possibility of a government tyranny and the “big brother” effect. Identity is also a major aspect that contributes to the story, seeing as though the whole point of the Hunger Games is to strip the Tributes of all emotional attachment. Subtle hints of the dangers of technology brainwash and reality TV garbage also accompany the laundry list of themes.
I know I’ve been pretty generous on my chips the past few issues, but I can’t help this one. “The Hunger Games” deserves a four and a half out of five chips simply because I was impressed with the risks it took to keep it authentic to the novel. I think what makes it such a powerful message is that it’s a story that interests everyone, and the series itself is one we can all agree on.