With the release of Part 2 of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay coming out on Friday November 20th, I thought I would take a look back at the entire series (primarily because I’ve never seen any of the movies or read any of the book for that matter).
In what was once North America, the Capitol of Panem maintains its hold on its 12 districts by forcing them each to select a boy and a girl, called Tributes, to compete in a nationally televised event called the Hunger Games. Every citizen must watch as the youths fight to the death until only one remains. District 12 Tribute Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has little to rely on, other than her hunting skills and sharp instincts, in an arena where she must weigh survival against love.
So I didn’t see any of the movies or read any of the books but I am still aware of the series and all of its three (and almost four) films so far. I think I must have been the only one who hasn’t yet. It’s human nature for things in this first film to not seem as climactic when you’ve previously known things about films past and future. This review will be based on this.
This film took place in what seems like some dystopian future but we never really got an explanation about how this world came to be. We start off by seeing Katniss (Lawrence) trying to hunt for food for her family including her mother (Paula Malcomson) and her sister (Willow Shields) (they mentioned a father but I’m not sure how he died). Her family appears to be poor and the residents of each District appear to be poor as well. She lives in District 12 with her friends Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). Her life soon gets interrupted when her sister gets selected as a tribute (participant) in this year’s annual Hunger Games, a televised event where male and female youth from each district are selected at random to fight to the death (that’s why these are YA novels). They don’t really explain why this is the case but the explanation we do get just seemed silly to me. When her sister gets selected as a tribute, Katniss volunteers to compete in her place. Her friend Peeta gets selected as well. So the majority of the film after that is just her and Peeta being introduced to this world and preparing themselves to compete in these Hunger Games. These two get assistance with this from Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), and Cinna (Lenny Kravitz). Once they finally do get to compete (it took a while to get to this point), they must face the elements, the landscape, and the other participants. The actual Hunger Games itself was quite a letdown when it was something that had to potential to be exciting (the subject matter as far as I’ve heard had “R” level violence but was watered down to cater to a wider PG-13 audience). I found the violence to be quite muted and infrequent as most of the killing was offscreen and implied. But a film/book called “The Hunger Games” isn’t necessarily about the games itself but it was about Katniss and Peeta having to stick together and survive the games. The second half of the film serves to further develop the friendship/relationship between the two teens. This worked as the acting of Lawrence and Hutcherson were good here as well as Harrelson, Banks, and Kravitz (surprisingly). Despite finding the story to be very silly, I found the film was shot very beautifully. I cannot speak to its authenticity but it did a good job depicting a dystopian world. Overall. this is a decent, big-world film but I just couldn’t get into it as I probably should because I did not like the story. I can, however, understand why people just ate this up.