Suzanne Collins’ says that her very successful young adults book trilogy, “The War Games” was based on reality shows and Iraq war footage on news reports on television. Watching the movie faced on the first book “The Hunger Games” looks like it is also based on news headlines about teenagers killing teenagers as that is what is behind the ‘games’.

Due to war, famine and greed the United States collapsed and now 100 years later we have 12 impoverished districts ruled by the very privileged The Capitol in a country called Panem. Each year two teenagers–1 female, 1 male–are chosen from each district to be televised killing each other with the one living survivor (How about a TV show with that name? Oh, there is one already!) winning riches for life. All this will bring in the male readers/film goers but how do we attract the females? Oh, right, add a love triangle and so we have Katmiss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), both selected from district 12 to be in the games, and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) the boy back home.

The Capitol looks like the world of Oz and is inhabited by people who dress as tall munchkins, each weirder than the next and the decadence look is all over the place. It doesn’t seem as if people have advanced with too much technology all those years from now but those in charge are certainly more outgoing such as the host (Stanley Tucci) of the TV show. There are no new weapons and deaths are caused by bow and arrow, javelons, spears, knives, mines and even wasps but not a gun in sight.

With the film running over 2 hours and 2o minutes the director, Gary Ross and the writers, Ross, Billy Ray and Suzanne Collins, spend the first hour laying the ground work and rules while the rest is devoted to the killings and, consequently, there really isn’t time to get to know the 12 fighters and there is no emotion involved on the audiences part when any of them are killed nor when they survive.

The second half of the film is action packed and moves very swiftly but the action is by the numbers and the outcome is almost a given so one will have to wait for the second film and/or read the books to get to know the characters better and, maybe, feel for them more.

It is with her performance that Jennifer Lawrence holds this movie together and commands every scene she is in. When not running or shooting arrows her face tells you everything she is feeling. Josh Hutcherson is too bland as Peeta while Liam Hemsworth as the rival doesn’t have that much screen time in this chapter.

The supporting cast is a mixed bag ranging from Elizabeth Banks looking and acting like a drag queen while Woody Harrelson as a previous winner and now mentor doesn’t chew the scenery too much. Stanley Tucci is way over the top, ridiculously so, while it is always good seeing Wes Bently and Toby Jones. Sutherland holds back from being as menacing as the role might call for while Willow Shields as the younger sister and Paula Malcomson as the mother of the heroine deliver short but solid performances. Lenny Kravitz as a stylist is a standout.

“The Hunger Games” is on its way to setting records and certainly will be one of, if not the, highest grossing pictures of the year but the question is whether it will draw an audience of people who don’t know the books to the second movie and if it does Jennifer Lawrence will be responsible for that.


Posted March 24, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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