4/01/2012

The Hunger Games

Title: The Hunger Games
Director: Gary Ross
Writer: Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, and Billy Ray
Cast:
Jennifer Lawrence, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley, Willow Shields, Liam Hensworth, Elizabeth Banks

In a distant future, the Capital must choose a boy and a girl, between the ages of 12 and 18, from each of the twelve districts to compete in a televised competition to the death. When Katniss Evergreen's (Jennifer Lawrence) little sister is chosen, she volunteers to take her place. Also, chosen is Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), a boy whom Katniss knows and who, we soon learn, has feelings for the young beauty. Katniss' expertise with the bow and arrow and her appearance covered in fake flames, earns her the title of "the girl on fire". The odds are most definitely in her favor, but can even she overcome the difficulties of the competition, win, and, most importantly survive?

Based on worldwide bestselling young adult novel, the first in a series, this movie has come in with a lot of hype. It's also rocking it at the box office. But, older genre and horror fans are pointing out that this is little more than a teeny bopper ripoff of the Arnie classic The Running Man, based on a Stephen King novella, and even moreso and most infuriating to horror fans, the controversial and classic Battle Royale, it too based on a book which inspired a graphic novel, as well. But, is that really the case?

Well, the author, and co-script writer, Suzanne Collins, said she never even seen or heard of the ultra-violent and amazing Japanese classic. While, it's impossible to know for sure, whether or not this is true, I can assure that while there are similarities, The Hunger Games are sufficiently different to warrant its existence. It also happens to be a damn good movie.

One major difference is the film's theme(s). The Running Man is more about the media's exploitation of real life violence on the screen. Battle Royale has more to do with the control adults have over the youth due to the fear of their violence (as well as the actual violence kids commit against each other). Finally, The Hunger Games has much more political stance. As it is the goverment and the control that it has over it's people that is at the heart of the story.

One of the first things that will catch your eyes is the film's amazing production value. Of course, it should be so considering it's a big budget, major studio release. But, it would be unfair of me not to point that out.

The other major attribute here is the excellent acting. Everyone in the cast is great, I particularly enjoyed Wood Harrelson's role in the film, it's quirky, funny, and likeable. But, let's be honest here. This is Lawrence's show all the way.

She gives a powerhouse performance and gives the character a lot of empathy and weight. She is also astoundingly beautiful. While this is the rare time I like girl more as a blonde, witness her in X-Men: First Class, she, nonetheless, is a truly breathtaking sight to behold throughout this film.

There is not a ton of action in the film, but that which is present is well done. The violence is subdued mostly shown off screen, with only splattering blood as the most graphic imagery. I guess you gotta keep that PG-13 rating, after all, as I have heard the darker aspects of the book are missing.

Still, there are few complaints to be had with the film. I am not sure if the romance works all the time, but the leads are likable and do have some chemistry making the whole affair something that one can accept. It also might be a teensy bit over long. But, overall, this solid, smart, and well acted sci-fi. Don't let your preconceived ideas of it not allow you to see it. But, see The Running Man and Battle Royale, first of course, if you never have.

*** out of ****

2 comments:

Jim said...

I really enjoyed it. And there's no denying just how amazingly talented Jennifer Lawrence is... I've been saying since Winter's Bone that she's going to be a huge star and it's nice to be right... again :p

Master_Gio said...

I've never seen Winter's Bone, but this is most def the movie that has made a star. Nice to see an actress who is not only stunning but very talented.