I must start off by saying I have not read The Hunger Games books, so my review is based solely on my experience watching the Film. It probably works out better that way because if you had read the books, you have probably already seen the movie and are reading for entertainment, rather than insight. Now available on Netflix Streaming.
For those of you who haven't read the books and were waiting for the crowds to die down; Stop Waiting! "The Hunger Games" is a fantastic Movie. It has a romance story that appeals to the ladies and plenty of violence that appeals to us manly men.
Set in a future where the Capitol selects a boy and girl from the twelve districts to fight to the death on live television, "Katniss Everdeen" (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to take her younger sister's place for the latest match.
I had a really hard time buying into this idea. It is why I didn't read the books. It seemed so unrealistic, so far from what would be allowed by today's standards. But then I thought about some of the atrocities that occurred as little as 60 years ago, and the ones occurring in countries today. Although I have mixed feelings about the KONY 2012 movement, it does point out that "The Hunger Games" might not be that far of a stretch to children living in that region.
So I changed my focus from being on the outside looking in, to being part of that world. How would I act if I were chosen? "Katniss" is our main protagonist in the film and seems to be who we might see ourselves as. Like me, she does is conflicted with the concept of having to survive, but not taking the life of another. Luckily my conscience is cleared a bit when a group of tributes breaks off to form of violent alliance via Lord of the Flies and becomes one of our antagonists.
One of the shining aspects of the movie was the strong supporting cast. Great actors like Stanley Tucci and Donald Sutherland who know better than to attach their names to something like "Twilight." They add credibility to the Film. But I must say the two surprises were Lenny Kravitz and Elizabeth Banks.
I had low expectations for Kravitz because, with the exception of maybe Justin Timberlake, musicians don't always make great actors. Kravitz portrays "Cinna," who is is the Stylist for "Katniss" and charged with make her more appealing to the audience, but he also serves as a guide. As the husband of a hair stylist, I can attest that stylists are as much therapists as much they are beauticians. Kravitz and Lawrence's scenes together are very tender and add softness to the harsh reality "Katniss" finds herself in. He perfectly conveys his role as someone who with both sorrowful that "Katniss" has to compete is such a barbaric sport, but hopefully that she can win. While many at the Capitol congratulate "Katniss," he offers condolences.
The thing that impressed me with Elizabeth Banks, recently of 30 Rock, is that I had no idea it was her! "Effie Trinket" is so done up and covered in make-up that I knew that she was someone I knew, but Banks' dedication to creating that character made it very difficult to determine who.
There were a few moments where I felt like I was missing some insider info, that a reader might have been privy too. When the Games got down to the final 3 Tributes I had no idea until it was just about over. I also wished they could have spent more time developing the other tributes. There were only about 6 you get to know and the rest are nameless bodies that don't seem to evoke as much emotion as they should when they reach their demise.
I was pleased with the clean languge in "The Hunger Games." "The Running Man" (1987) had a similar plot line, but couldn't do the same. I didn't even hear a PG curse word. The only thing that lost a star was the violence perpatrated against kids. It is very shocking to see some of the Tributes, as young as 12, killed in merciless fashion. If you have a Stake President as tender hearted as ours you might not want to bring him, but nothing will make you uncomfortable or embassased to be there.
Overall though the movie was nicley done. I never even felt the 2 and a half hour run time until the resolution, which is when you should feel it. I now plan of reading the books to fill in those missing peices and look forward to November of 2013!