Movie: The Hunger Games
Directed by: Gary Ross
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth
Based on the bestselling novels by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games takes place in the post-apocalyptic world of Panem, ruled by the oligarchic government of the wealthy Capitol and further split into 12 subordinate districts.
Serving as punishment for an uprising against the ruling body, each of the districts are forced to submit two teenagers to battle in a televised tournament every year. The competition is bloody and ruthless, producing only one living victor.
The story follows rebel heroine Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), who volunteers herself for the games following the selection of her sister as tribute. Alongside her male tribute, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), she must travel to the Capitol to participate.
Despite being close to two and a half hours long, the film does a good job of pacing. Plot elements are well-used, so one doesn’t necessarily have to know the books to understand what is happening—this isn’t a Harry Potter movie.
Academy Award nominee Jennifer Lawrence is a great choice for Katniss. She brings a good deal of depth to the character. Unfortunately, the filmmakers fall into an anti-Twilight vibe where in order to make a strong female character, Peeta and the other male tributes become archetypal and boring.
The cinematographer should learn how to hold a camera properly. Using a shaky camera—not even during action scenes but when characters are talking—makes several early scenes in the film almost unbearable. The costume design of the people in the Capitol is so over-the-top it looks like Satan spliced Tim Burton’s and Lady Gaga’s DNA.
Unfortunately, the odds are not in favour of the film’s political messages—it doesn’t really say anything substantial about the wealth of the Capitol versus the poverty of the districts.
Even with the film’s satire of reality TV and the glorification of violence, The Hunger Games cannot say much about this problem when its structure itself glorifies violence. The viewer may feel rage towards the society that puts kids in these barbaric games, but the film doesn’t effectively comment on the irony that by watching this film, the viewer is like the wealthy members of the Capitol reveling in the slaughter and enjoying the publicized love story between Katniss and Peeta.
The Hunger Games really doesn’t say anything compelling about its themes. Although it is good adaptation of the book, it’s a passable film that only amounts to being a mind-numbing PG-13 Battle Royale.