Saturday, May 04, 2013

The Hunger Games (2012) ****

After seeing a lot of movies lately that were just “alright,” it was nice to finally see something amazing!  “The Hunger Games” is sheer delight!  Having never read the book, I came to the movie with no expectations, and I was blown away.
For the other four people in the free world who haven’t already seen the movie, read the books, and gotten the T-shirt, “The Hunger Games” tells the story of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), a girl from a future dystopia.  In this version of the future, civil war has led to the division of the planet, or at least Katniss’s country, into districts.  The poorer, outer districts are pretty much exploited to provide energy and other resources for the lavish lifestyles of those in the rich districts.  (Not all that different from the current system, really.)  To remind the outer districts of the failure of their past rebellion, a Hunger Games is held every year.  Each district has to hand over one teenage boy and girl who will enter the game and fight to the death like gladiators, for the entertainment of a television audience.  It’s completely sick, and it feels eerily reminiscent of our own reality tv shows.
Katniss is a total badass.  With her dad dead in a mining accident, and her mom unable to deal with life, Katniss is left to raise her younger sister.  She also has to feed the family, which she does by sneaking into the restricted forest and hunting with her bow.  When her sister’s name gets drawn for the Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers to take her place.  She is whisked off to her fate, along with a local boy, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson).  In the Capitol, Kat and Peeta are given some cursory training, mostly in how to appeal to the wealthy judges who influence the games by sponsoring care packages to help players they like.  Then the gladiators are turned into the arena, and the underage bloodbath begins.
Like all good dystopian fiction, “The Hunger Games” holds a dark mirror up to our own world.  From its critique of economic exploitation to the depiction of what reality TV could become, the film has a lot to say, even if its messages are rather uncomplicated.  Fortunately, the film works equally well as an action movie.  There’s really nothing negative to say about the movie.  Anyone who saw Jennifer Lawrence in “Winter’s Bone” will not be surprised at how good she is in this role.  This actress knows how to cook a squirrel on a stick!  The rest of the cast is excellent as well.  Woody Harrelson, in particular, is riveting as Haymitch, the alcoholic coach and former Hunger Games competitor.  There’s also a surprise performance by Lenny Kravitz.
The sequel, “Catching Fire” comes out this year, and I can‘t wait.  I’m hungry for more.

4 stars out of 5

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