The Hunger Games (7/10)
by Tony Medley
Despite all the
ballyhoo, this is basically a standard thriller set in the future.
Apparently the books are a big hit with teenaged girls, so I was fearing
the film would just be more of the same that we got with the Twilight
films. But that's not the way it is. This is actually very entertaining
and well done, with a stellar cast.
Set in a
despotic country in the future, each year 24 teenagers between 12-18,
two from each of the country's 12 districts, a male and a female, are
chosen to compete in a reality TV game fight to the death with only one
winner. That means that 24 teenagers are chosen and 23 will die.
Lawrence's young sister is chosen, Jennifer volunteers to take her
place. The boy chosen from the district is Josh Hutcherson, who has
loved Jennifer from afar. That means that in order to survive, one will
have to kill the other.
are turned loose in the forest to either run from each other or to
search each other out to kill. All the while they are monitored by the
government, who also manipulates the outcome, or tries to, anyway.
Stanley Tucci is
very good as the unctuous TV host, as are an almost unrecognizable
Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrelson. Lawrence does a fine job, but not
much is required of her, as it was in 2010 in Winter's Bone, one
of the best of that year, a film that required acting to make it work,
and for which she received an Oscar® nomination. This really doesn't.
She's out there in the forest and she's mostly running and hiding.
aspect I really liked was the archery. I took archery at UCLA (and was
the class champion, although I never split an arrow like Robin Hood), so
I generally cringe when I see actors in films requiring archery
pretending that they know how to use a bow and arrow when they clearly
don't. There are many shots of Lawrence using the bow and arrow and she
does it exactly the way I learned. Bravo!
I had heard a
lot of misleading things about brutality, but, while there is some
killing, it's not graphic and it isn't profuse. This is mostly a film
about chase and survival, although it takes about an hour for the games
to actually begin. While director Gary Ross (who also has a writing
credit with Billy Ray and Suzanne Collins, the author of the books)
keeps the film moving, I can't for the life of me figure out how he
stretched this out to almost two and a half hours. There just isn't that
much story there. It didn't pass the watch test, because I checked mine
I don't know if
the filmmakers were trying to make a statement about totalitarianism,
but it's there if you want to see it.