The much anticipated film The Hunger Games has finally arrived in theaters. The movie based on Suzanne Collin's first novel of a trilogy has fascinated readers and created much excitement as to who would play the lead characters and how would the story be presented on film. As one who has not read the book on which the movie is based, the entire presentation of the film was a letdown.
The story involves a futuristic society where most of the population is kept confined to Districts. In the nation of Panem there are twelve districts. Two children, one boy and one girl, between the ages of twelve to eighteen are chosen from each district to take part in "the hunger games." These twenty-four will fight to the death on a reality type show. Only one will emerge alive.
In District 12, Katniss Everdeen's much younger sister Prim (Willow Shields) is the girl selected. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to take her place. The boy chosen to compete is Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). These two are taken to the Capitol where they are groomed for the contest. Katniss' best friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth) must stand by helplessly and watch from District 12.
The rest of the movie focuses on the competition and how the contestants kill each other. The violence of these acts is not specific in many cases, but the psychological impact of what is occurring is intense. It all boils down to children killing other children for the entertainment of the elite.
The subject matter is off putting and, for those who have not read all three novels, the impact of this first story is diluted. Audiences are watching a violent movie that seems to have no direction or moral. It is just a story about a fight to the death and how it occurs.
The most brilliant part of the movie is the casting of Lawrence. She is one talented actress and she gives depth to a storyline that does not deserve it. If there is one factor contributing to the success of the movie it is her performance. Hutcherson is one dimensional as Peeta and Hemsworth is almost non-existent as Gale. Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley and Toby Jones are annoying in their roles as eccentrics who facilitate and comment on the "games."
More effective is Woody Harrelson as a former winner and now mentor in the games. Lenny Kravitz also has some good moments as costumer Cinna. He manages to create an emotional bond with the audience in just a few scenes.
The movie is rated PG-13 for profanity and violence.
In years past violence directed towards children was more or less off limits. Now, as this movie proves, they are fair game. Watching a movie about children killing each other for the pleasure of adults seems a little sick.
There are still two more movies at least with this cast of characters. Perhaps they will prove to be more enjoyable and entertaining than this one.
I scored The Hunger Games a non-playful 5 out of 10.
Jackie K Cooper