Director: Gary Ross
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Hemsworth, Lenny Kravitz
Released: March 23, 2012
Viewed in theaters: March 26, 2012
I, like most everyone else in the country, have read The Hunger Games trilogy. I really loved the first book, still enjoyed the second book as though it wasn't as good as the first, and was heavily disappointed by the final one. I didn't like that one because it didn't have the same flow as the first two and I was really angry and baffled at a certain character's death. I mean, I know a lot of people die in these books, but I didn't understand why Suzanne Collins chose to kill off this particular one.
The Hunger Games is what you would get if you combined the short story, "The Lottery" with the reality show, Survivor, and the Japanese movie, Battle Royale. Oh, and throw the Olympics in there as well. The parade of the tributes, the personal stories, and the training reminded me of the Olympics. The film (and book) takes place in a dystopian future where the United States no longer exists and is now a place called Panem. It doesn't specify when in the future it takes place, but I'm guessing a couple hundred years.
Panem consists of the Capitol, which is really wealthy and where the Hunger Games are held. Also, part of Panem are twelve districts that each have their own specialty (mining, agriculture, fishing, technology, transportation, etc.) and the higher the number, the poorer the district. Our heroine, Katniss Everdeen,, lives in District 12 - the poorest district. The citizens have to hunt for their own food and trade their goods for others. Even though the film takes place in the future, there were times when it looked like it took place in the past!
The Hunger Games have been going on for 74 years and it's something the Capitol (aka the Government) came up with to show that they are in charge, pretty much, and they won't tolerate other people rebelling against them or making their own rules. Each year a boy and girl between the ages of 12 and 18 are chosen from each district at the annual Reaping to fight in the Games (and it's done by drawing names ala "The Lottery") and they must fight to the death and the last one standing is the winner.
Katniss's sister, Prim, is the female tribute from District 12 who is picked, despite this being her first Reaping and Katniss volunteers to take her place in order to save her sister. This is one of the most powerful scenes in the movie and it definitely got me choked up! Peeta (Hutcherson) is the male tribute chosen and they're mentored by the only former winner of the Hunger Games from District 12, Haymitch (Harrelson).
After the 24 contestants have been trained and prepped, they're put into a terrain that's controlled by the Capitol. They all stand on individual platforms and there's a huge pile of weapons out in the open they can grab. Haymitch has advised his tributes not to grab anything because most of the tributes are killed in the first few seconds of the games. Katniss, the accomplished archer, sees a bow and and arrow, but forgoes it for a nearby backpack filled with supplies instead.
This is how it reminded me of Survivor: not only is this being shown on TV as the world's most effed-up reality show, but they do things you'd see on Survivor - build fires, make alliances, catch food (and sometimes they even "win" food and supplies), make shelter, etc.
And then you add in the whole middle school and high school-aged kids killing each other with whatever weapons they can get their hands on, and you have the plot of Battle Royale!
It's been over a year since I've read the book, but I thought the movie did a good job of following it. Everything that happened in the film, I remembered reading in the book. The character of Gale, Katniss's friend from District 12 really has nothing to do. He's just there to look jealous when he sees Katniss kiss Peeta on TV during the games.
Apparently there have been some uproar on Twitter with really stupid and really racist people having a hissyfit because the actress who plays Rue, the young girl in the Games from District 11 that Kat allies with, is black. I don't know why they are getting so angry over this - anyone who actually read the books should know that the character is black. I believe the author describes her as "dark-skinned" so maybe these idiots thought she was white with a tan? I don't know, but it's really stupid how these morons are acting.
Well, I think it's really cool that both Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson are fans of the books and got to play two major characters (well, duh since Jennifer plays the main character!) in the movie. If I were an actor, I would love to play a character in one of my favorite books.