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Monday, June 02, 2014

Movie Review:The Hunger Games

Premise:Twenty-four teens compete to win a game that will kill most of them.

Cast:Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, Willow Smith as Prim Everdeen, Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne, Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mallark, Donald Sutherland as President Snow, Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy, Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, Wes Bentley as Seneca Crane, Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman, Amandla Stenberg as Rue, Alexander Ludwig as Cato, Isabelle Fuhrman as Clove, Jacqueline Emerson as Foxface, Dayo Okeniyi as Thresh, Paula Malcolmson as Mrs. Everdeen

Director:Gary Ross

MPAA Rating:PG-13 for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images - all involving teens

Genres:Drama, action, sci-fi

Notes:Based off the book by Suzanne Collins. Poster taken from IMP Awards and belongs to Lionsgate.

Pros:Faithful to the book. The scenes with the sports announcers and Snow, respectively. Good villains.

Cons:Not enough exposition. Shaky camera.

Katniss didn't think Prim's name would be picked. How could it? Alas, it is. Unable to see her sister die, she volunteers herself. Now she herself has to face the unspeakable.

First, the film is rather faithful to the book. They added a bit, but that's to be expected. On that note, I did like the scenes with the sports announcers (which depending on how you look at, makes the games either less or more disturbing) and then the ones with Snow.

One of the biggest problems here is the lack of exposition. For the most part, it seems to assume you've read the book and are already familiar with the world. (And for some reason, they call Katniss by her full name, but not the other tributes.) I wonder if the movie might have be better with Katniss narrating. And if they're worried it will spoil that she lives to make another movie, they could just have her speak in the present rather than like she's telling this story to someone else years or months later.

One of the strong spots are the antagonists. President Snow is the kind of villain that you both like and hate. We also have the tributes Cato and Clove.

Let me briefly compare it to the book:Overall, it's less graphic. Given the medium here, that's probably appropriate. One tribute's brutal death lasts only seconds here, not hours. Tracker jacker hallucinations don't involve blood, pus, or killer ants. And this movie was okay, but I don't get the rich experience I did from the book.

What I'd recommend is to read the book, then maybe think about seeing this.

Sex:A couple pretends to be in love and kisses to "prove" it. A female tribute is dressed up in a sexualized manner. Old footage shows a boy in undershorts. A guy looks upset when his female friend kisses someone else.

Violence:Before the Games actually begin, Prim is dragged away by Gale, then by a Peacekeeper. A flashback shows Mr. Everdeen dying in an explosion. Gale wonders how different killing people and killing animals can be. Katniss hunts in the woods. Characters fall during training.
Now for the more dangerous stuff:Tributes die from wasp attacks, arrows, spears, neck snaps, stabbings, and poison. After one kill, the culprits laugh about their victim's pleas for mercy. An explosion sends a girl flying. Dog-like creatures attack people. Footage from a previous game shows a boy smashing a brick into what is presumably an enemy's head. War footage is used in a propaganda film. A couple threatens suicide. Fire is used to drive a girl out. Characters pick up cuts and burns. Rebels start a riot.

Language:This is the only area where the movie is less family friendly than the book. A few uses of d**n, h*ll, and oh my G*d.

Drugs/Alcohol:Several people seen drinking. Katniss wonders if Haymitch, an alcoholic, should be near an open flame. He tells Effie to loosen up and have a drink.

Spiritual:We see briefly from a dying character's point of view. She sees the sky before her vision turns white.

So what did you think? Were the odds in its favor? Or not so much?

© 2014 by M.R.R.

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