There’s definitely a social commentary somewhere here, about televised society and all, but I think the main interest from this movie is, that as with the book, it’s easy, and has all ingredients for a destined success with most of its intended target audience. And it does. If you liked the book, small reason for you to not like this movie (unless of course, if you are true purist that doesn’t take lightly any compromises made to bring a book into a movie). But the idea itself, it’s deft execution, and a strong array of casts will be more than sufficient for the non-reading folks to enjoy this movie as well.
In Panem, long after a failed rebellion, its twelve Districts were required to send a couple of Tributes, a boy and a girl of a certain age, by way of volunteering or in most cases, a draw, to participate in an annual “The Hunger Games.” In this game, they were sent into an arena where they fought each other until only one victor left standing. One victor. Alive. Sounds brutal, and it is. Although the idea isn’t entirely new, because “Battle Royale,” who also flirted with the idea of school age teenagers pitted in a make-shift arena to kill one another has been existed for quite a while but it’s still a controversial idea and not everyone out there knows about “Battle Royale.”
Jennifer Lawrence is Katniss Everdeen, the Tribute from District 12, one of the poorest District in Panem. As with the book, it is effortless to root for Katniss and Jennifer Lawrence makes it even more easier. She is portrayed as tough, but not susceptible to fear and thus makes her a human we could very much identifies with. The way I see it, we are in parallel with the citizens of Panem in this part. Katniss, helped by her stylist, Cinna (Lenny Kravitz. He’s awesome, by the way), her mentor, Haymitch (always awesome Woody Harrelson) and even Effie Trinket, representation of District 12 portrayed by always recognizable, always desirable Elizabeth Banks even under those heavy and ridiculous make ups, works behind the scene to transform herself into a lovable underdog. This is I think where the social commentary is. Had the movie devoted its attention to let’s say, the designated villain of this movie, Cato from District 2, it will find a way to get us root for him and perhaps, even, cheered for him when he mercilessly hack his way into victory instead. But of course, that’s not the case. In the end, I think it boils down into a reality TV stigma portrayed in this movie where you could turn everyone into something else they don’t. Even gets us rooted behind their acts which sometimes, in a real life, not entirely morally acceptable. Ah, I don’t have a degree in Sociology so I might be wrong but that’s how I take of this story.
But solely taken as a movie for an entertainment value, this movie works. Very well. My only qualms with the movie is that it downplays Katniss’ Tribute counterpart, Peeta. I suspect that many would’ve written him off and their eventual relationship as no more than meets the eye while on the other hand, it was so much more than that.
The most exciting part of the book is when the Tributes arrived to the arena for the first time. The movie knows it and in turn, does it pretty well, although I have some ideas playing inside my head of how I’d make it more into my liking, but overall, it was good. Setting the tone of the game (still a PG-13, parents, no worries there), and would definitely put the Katniss team on the edge of their seat for a while. So therefore, if by some weird circumstances you found yourself really bored, give this movie a chance to arrive to this point and then decides for yourself.
A bit of spoiler, here, so skip this paragraph if you hated being spoilt (I don’t). When Katniss smiles, I take a good long look into her eyes, and see nothing. And I smiled. I wouldn’t have expected less from Jennifer Lawrence.