Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the evil Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games. A twisted punishment for a past uprising and an ongoing government intimidation tactic, The Hunger Games are a nationally televised ...more
Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the evil Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games. A twisted punishment for a past uprising and an ongoing government intimidation tactic, The Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which "Tributes" must fight with one another until one survivor remains. Pitted against highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives, Katniss is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch Abernathy. If shes ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love. less
“A well adapted storyline supported by strong performances and excellent direction. The Hunger Games is a treat for the eyes. Go for it!”
Yet another effort by Hollywood to fill in the chasm that is left behind by Harry Potter and soon will be by the penultimate Twilight movie, The Hunger Games surprisingly works pretty effectively for much of its running length. Based on the best-selling trilogy by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games is set in the distant future within the boundaries of Northern America.
The country is broken down into 12 districts controlled by the capitol city. The opening scrawls speak about a rebellion by the districts against the capitol city that was crushed and as penance, the tradition of the Hunger Games began. Every year, each district sends tributes, one young male and female who participates in a bloody ritual of carnage in an artificial arena watched by the world and manipulated like a reality TV show by the powers at capitol city. Twenty four participants enter but only one emerges. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) comes from District 12, and the only reason she volunteers to be part of this sadistic ritual is because her little sisters name comes up in the draw. Peeta Malark (Josh Hutcherson) is the other tribute from District 12 and they are whisked away to Capitol city for the games. There they learn that to win the games it takes more than just being good at killing in the arena. Alliances have to be faked, sponsors have to be impressed upon, public sympathy and empathy gained and last but not the least simple survival skills honed. Who will emerge victorious at the end is the lesser question compared to how.
Director Gary Ross (Seabiscuit) shows his proficiency at extracting emotional value from situations and the way he introduces the main characters, their environments and the socio-political themes of the world are noteworthy. While he is working off strong content from the books, he manages to enliven the environments on his own interpretations too. So the setup leading up to the actual games is riveting to say the least, filled with strong performances from the entire cast. The place where the movie slacks is the payoff during the games which doesnt quite effectively capture the brutality or horror of kids killing kids. Here too there are quieter moments where Ross shows his expertise at tugging on your heart strings.
The other letdown is the half-baked love triangle that forms between Katniss, Peeta and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) alluding to a showdown in the other two parts. This seems far too an obvious tactic to bait the Twilight crowd and feels utterly forced in parts.
Jennifer Lawrence is solid but has played a very similar character in Winters Bone, her Oscar-nominated performance. Josh Hutcherson & Liam Hemsworth are adequate while Woody Harrelson & Stanley Tucci are scene-stealers. Wes Bentley sports some fancy facial hair but his character gets the short end of the stick compared to the book and the same goes for Elizabeth Banks. Singer Lenny Kravitz is surprisingly effective in a small role while Donald Sutherland nice sets up his character for future instalments in the series.
The Hunger Games is a solid adaptation filled with some real emotions and relevant socio-political themes from the past and present. The world it creates is fascinating to watch and the characters a treat. Oddly the place it falters is the actual dynamics of the games itself, which could have been far stronger. This is a worthy watch on the big screen.