Friday, March 23, 2012

Game On! The Hunger Games are here.

  If you are a female between the age of 12 and 35, Christmas has just come early. The Hunger Games are here. I walked out of the theatre and saw the lines of young girls already formed for tickets to see the teen drama. While it is less sappy than Twilight, it is certainly a story that we have probably seen before. Let's put people in an environment where they are forced to fight for their lives. The Running Man, The Condemned, and Surviving the Game. These came first and most guys have seen it done. Why is their so much hype surrounding this book/movie? Probably because this one is for the young ladies.

 The Hunger Games is set in a post apocalyptic North America called "Panem." The rich and powerful live in the Capitol and control the other twelve districts. It's an interesting concept.
As punishment for a previous rebellion against the Capitol in which a 13th district was destroyed, one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district are selected by annual lottery to participate in the Hunger Games, an event in which the participants (called "tributes") must fight in an outdoor arena controlled by the Capitol, until only one remains. The movie follows 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, a girl from the Appalachian region of District 12 who , a baker's son whom Katniss knows from school, who once gvolunteers for the 74th annual Hunger Games when her sister Primrose (Willow Shields) is selected.  Peeta Mallark is also selected from the district. He once gave Katniss bread when she was starving. He also has a crush on her, but has not told her his feelings yet. Gale (Liam Hemsworth), her best friend and hunting partner, gives her advice for the games. She promises her sister that she will try and win and makes her mom promise to take care of them.

 Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) are taken to the Capitol where their drunken mentor, Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), winner of a previous games, instructs them to watch and learn the talents of the other tributes. They are then put on display to the Capitol audience in a televised session with interviewer Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci). It is here that Peeta reveals on-air his long-time unrequited love for Katniss. She  believes this to be a ploy to gain audience support for the Games, which can be crucial for survival, as audience members are encouraged to send gifts like food, medicine, and supplies to their favorites during the Games. The Games begin with 11 of the 24 tributes dying in the first day, while Katniss relies on her well-practiced hunting and outdoor skills to survive. The death toll increases as the games progress. increases. Katniss develops an alliance with Rue (Amanda Stenberg), a 12-year-old girl from District 11 who reminds Katniss of her younger sister.. During a plan to destroy the supplies of the others: Rue is killed by another tribute. Katniss sings to her, then spreads flowers over her body as a sign of respect—and of disgust towards the Capitol. She then holds up the sign for District 11 for the world to see.

Supposedly due to Katniss and Peeta's beloved image in the minds of the audience as "star-crossed lovers", a rule change is announced midway through the Games, stating that two tributes from the same district can win.  Katniss searches for Peeta and eventually finds him wounded. As she nurses him back to health, she acts the part of  falling in love to gain more favor with the audience and from her sponsors. After they become the final two, the Game makers reverse the rule change in an attempt to force them into a dramatic finale, where one must kill the other to win. Katniss, knowing that the Game makers would rather have two victors than none, retrieves highly poisonous berries, that she had kept earlier, and offers some to Peeta. Upon realizing that Katniss and Peeta intend to commit suicide, the Game makers announce that both will be the victors of the 74th Hunger Games.

  She survives the Games and is treated to a hero's welcome in the Capitol but, Katniss is warned by Haymitch that she has now become a political target after defying her society's authoritarian leaders so publicly. Afterwards, Peeta is heartbroken when he learns that Katniss's actions in the arena were part of a calculated ploy to earn sympathy from the audience. However, Katniss is unsure of her own feelings, and from the look of it so is Gale.
 The movie is close to faithful to the book, but fans will notice some changes. Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks, and Donald Sutherland are used very well. Wes Bently is also well cast. Thanks to American Beauty he will forever be creepy, but it is good to see the talented actor clean and working. Jennifer Lawrence is a rising star and this is a great vehicle for her. She looks slightly different than Katniss in the book, but plays her vulnerability very well. I wasn't crazy about Hutcherson, but he does enough with what he is given. The games are fun to watch play out and scenes with the wasps and the "American Idol" like television show are great. Stanley Tucci was my favorite character to watch.

 What scares me is the fact that this may one day happen. Maybe not to kids , but in our Internet video watching world, are televised fights to the death that far off. One would hope not, but nothing surprises me anymore. So is the hype warranted? The Hunger Games is fun to watch. It's an interesting look at a warped American society. Twilight is ending and for young girls, this is the next hot thing. The sequel will happen and the movie will make a ton of money. It may not be for everyone, but it's audience will love it.

1 comment:

  1. I feel that the underlying young love story plays a big part in why the series is so successful. I myself am a fan of The Hunger Games. The well written plot in the books is what sparked my interest in the movie. I love seeing how books are portrayed differently in the movie form.