Did I just watch a documentary on American Idol, where instead of voting the losers off, they just kill them? Possibly, but Idol was never as entertaining.
The Hunger Games is set in a post-war dystopian future, where the United States is now a country called Panem, and split into districts instead of state, two commoners from each district are chosen to savagely fight to the death for the entertainment of the ruling class. It’s a form of punishment to keep the common people in line, which the upper class have spun, now calling it a national tradition.
These chosen children, range in age from their late teens to a disturbingly young age. This is perhaps the darkest element of this dark film. Watching the upper class celebrate the fact that they are sending kids out to the slaughter makes it pretty easy to cheer for their downfall.
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is the heroine, who has to live up to her potential. The one
thing that really drives this movie is Jennifer Lawrence. She’s a young actress, but you can tell there is something behind her eyes and in her face. Her honesty on-camera makes you believe her. She’s the opposite of a blank slate, even if she hasn’t realized what her potential is yet. The future is bright for her.
The supporting cast is surprisingly strong. Woody Harelson plays Hamish, an alcoholic former Hunger Games winner that mentors the fresh meat. Lenny Kravitz surprises with a passionate performance, despite the gold eyeliner. Stanley Tucci is the Hunger Game emcee and his fake teeth were basically a character to themselves.
The Hunger Games falls into the new franchise-category of movies that include Harry Potter and Twilight. It’s also pretty hard not to make comparisons to the aforementioned similar films. There is a lead character destined for greatness. There is a love triangle forming. There is a greater evil hovering over the lives of the characters.
The film is not without its faults. There was part of me that wanted to cast off this movie series as just another brick in the wall, but there is an impressive level of achievement here, which cannot be denied.