The new movie The Hunger Games is set in a post-apocalyptic, far-distant future America that is now called Panem. Each of the twelve districts of Panem is required, once a year, to select, by lottery, one teenage boy and one teenage girl to travel to the Capitol and participate as contestants in the Hunger Games. These games are like the gladiatorial contests of ancient Rome in which the participants—through cunning, skill, and endurance—kill each other: Twenty-three will die; only one will survive. Everyone is required to watch the games on TV. It’s sort of a national yearly celebration that everybody seems to enjoy tremendously, except, of course, those who will die like hunted animals.
When the movie begins, participants are being selected in District 12 for the 74th Annual Hunger Games. When a young girl named Primrose Everdeen is selected to represent her district as the female contestant, her older sister, Katniss (played by Jennifer Lawrence), volunteers to take her place. She doesn’t want to be a contestant anymore than anybody else does, but she sacrifices herself to save her sister. Katniss wants to win so she can return home to her mother and sister, and she just might have the “fire” and the will to live that it takes to survive the Hunger Games. Whether she wins or not, we can see she’s going to make her mark.
The male contestant from District 12 is Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). He and Katniss know each other but don’t seem to like each other very much. They are taken in hand to prepare for the games by the very odd Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) and a gone-to-seed previous winner of the games, Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson). Haymitch would rather get drunk than anything else, but he makes sure Katniss and Peeta benefit from his experience so they might have a real chance of winning—and surviving.
The games themselves take place in the wild, or in a virtual wild that the people back at the command center have complete control of. They can create a forest fire for the contestants to deal with, poison berries, a nest of deadly hornets, vicious animals, or any number of other obstacles. Every move the contestants make while in the “wild” is being eagerly watched on TV by the entire country. Within the first eight hours, eleven of the twenty-four contestants are killed. When a contestant falls, a cannon booms.
The Hunger Games is a lot of fun, even though the ending is going to seem kind of predictable to a lot of people, with enough of a twist, though, to make it interesting and believable. The games themselves seem to go on a bit too long; the movie seems to sag about three-quarters of the way through but revives for the conclusion.
My favorite part of The Hunger Games is when the action shifts to the Capitol. It is in complete contrast to the place where Katniss and Peeta come from. It’s interesting to see how movie makers portray a city of the far-distant future. The fashionable people of the Capitol are a spectacle that must be seen. The hairdos and makeup seem to have a decidedly 17th century influence. The unctuous TV host of the games (Stanley Tucci) has a blue hairdo that defies description. It must be seen to be appreciated.
Copyright © 2012 by Allen Kopp