The Hunger Games– Movie Review
I’m gonna overthink it a bit, but basically, The Hunger Games was awesome. Jennifer Lawrence anchors director Gary Ross‘ special effects blockbuster which is still packed with amazing sets and costumes, sweeping cinematography, a twangy hipster score, and a touching, human story.
You probably know the story by now from the popular young adult novels, or from the waves of anticipatory press leading up to this film: Katniss Everdeen lives in the nation of Panem in a not-so-unfamiliar totalitarian future. Every year, the twelve outlying districts of the country select two young people as “tributes” to sacrifice to the capital district; Katniss volunteers to go in place of her kid sister. The twenty four teens are locked in a wilderness arena, and must fight to the death until only one survives.
The movie has all the good stuff: drama, romance, and a lot of butt-kicking. There are even a few laughs courtesy of Woody Harrelson, who shows he can shine in just about any role, as an alcoholic (and vaguely effeminate) former champion. In a way, The Hunger Games is a really skillful balance of multiple films and genres: an Appalachian Depression-era family drama, a futuristic satire of totalitarian government and big business, and a wilderness survival/war film. Or put more simply, there’s something for everyone.
[MILD SPOILERS AHEAD]
But I thought the movie was also an affecting self-aware critique of voyeuristic entertainment, and even of itself. Overthinking, right? But go with me. In the film, we see the producers and engineers running the live broadcast of “the Hunger Games” event itself. They manipulate the environment and the tributes within to give the audience what it wants. And sure, that audience is the people of Panem, but it’s also us. We’re the ones cheering for Katniss’ screw-you moxie; we’re angry over Rue’s death, or waiting anxiously for young love to triumph somehow. And the Tributes who weren’t able to catch our attention were the first to go. So who’s responsible for that?
Did you see The Hunger Games? What did you think?