I was literally dragged to see it. I hadn’t bought into the Hunger Games books but I guess I was drafted, much like Katniss. I did get to hear what they got right about the movie and what they changed on the ride home though. Even with very little knowledge of the books, I found the film very good but a bit familiar in spots.
In the future, an apocalyptic war decimated North America. The nation formed afterwards was dubbed Paneum with a ruling Capitol and twelve surrounding districts.
There were originally thirteen but that districts’ rebellion caused their annihilation. Since then the Capitol and President Snow (Donald Sutherland) have sponsored the Hunger Games where two tributes are chosen from each of the remaining districts.
The chosen are brought to the Capitol and treated like royalty… until they are dropped into the televised arena and forced to kill each other until only the last one standing is declared the winner. District 12 is the furthest from the Capitol and therefore the poorest. When the young Primrose (Willow Shields) is chosen as tribute, her big sister Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to take her place since she fears Primrose will be taken out pretty quickly.
Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), a baker’s son who showed Katniss’ kindness in the past, is also chosen as tribute. The two are whisked away by train and on route meet their mentor Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), a past winner of the games now turned to drink, as well as formulate their strategy. They’ll need all the help they can get since richer districts devote more training and time to make sure their youths deadlier and more prepared for the games and tributes earn favor by playing the crowds.
I’m not familiar with the books by Suzanne Collins or the phenomenon that grew from them. It never caught me, but certainly it has appeal to all ages. Certainly Hollywood is looking for any sort of franchise and one that springs from a popular book can’t be beat. My daughter is one of the minions that were enamored with the book.
Thankfully she wasn’t so devoted that she drug her old man to a midnight showing, but we did see it late on opening day. She had to devour the books before that screening, but I can’t say that I read them. At least it had her doing chores to earn money for the three books. I saw the film without having anything to compare it to in that aspect. I know that the devoted fans of a certain boy wizard expect every page to appear in the film, but I know that certain things have to be changed and adapted when taking the written work to the visual image. I had to ask my daughter why she liked the movie: “because it had adventure, mystery, danger and a good team with spirit.”
I would agree to those points but may not be as invested as those that adore the books. I thought Jennifer Lawrence played a strong lead, but I had also already discovered her in Winter’s Bone (as well as the producers of the film no doubt). She’s just as fine an actress here and I have no doubt that she’ll support the rest of the franchise. They knew they had to get it right (or face the ire of fans) so her costars Hutcherson, Harrelson, and the rest of the cast are also up to par. The series is up to a fine start and I look forward to being asked to take my kid to the next two.
The Hunger Games is presented in a 1080p high definition transfer (2.40:1). Disc one contains the film and a 30 second promo for the metabeam smart remote for your smartphone or pad, a text about BD Touch (BD Live), and a sound check. Disc two houses the special features, all in high definition, that start off with the expansive 2 hour, eight part “The World is Watching” making of.
It also has the following featurettes: the 14 minute “Game Maker” an interview with Suzanne Collins, the 9 minute “Letters from the Rose Garden” an interview with Donald Sutherland, the 6 minute “Controlling the Games” look at the control center, the 14 minute “Conversation with Gary Ross and Elvis Mitchell” where the director and critic talk about making the film, the 3 minute “Preparing for the Film” where Ross talks about gearing up to make the movie, the 90 second “Propaganda Film” that you see in the film, and a marketing gallery that has 5 minutes of trailers and a poster and photo gallery. You also get a digital copy.
The Hunger Games is a hit and certainly inspired its fans. It does seem to borrow heavily from Battle Royale, without its R rating, but Collins swears she never heard of that movie before writing her books. JuneL tells me that they’re only really seven stories in the world so maybe she can be cut some slack.
I greatly enjoyed the film thanks to Jennifer Lawrence and a compelling storyline… that will be fleshed out in at least two more sequels.
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