Friday, March 23, 2012

With its Creepy Subject Matter, ‘Games’ is Still Engaging


Jennifer Lawrence stars as 'Katniss Everdeen' in THE HUNGER GAMES.
Credits: 
Murray Close 

I admit it. I am probably the only person who hasn’t read “The Hunger Games” trilogy by Suzanne Collins, so I had somewhat of a disadvantage watching the preview screening. While the movie’s sets are beautiful, the acting
  very good and the story engaging, I still struggle with the idea that creating a story where children battle against each other to the death. I’ve been reassured from those that have read the books that by the trilogy as a whole have a redeeming value, but when I left the theatre, I wasn’t sure what to think.

“The Hunger Games” is a fairly simple story to understand even without reading the books. The time is a little into the future where North America is now ruled by the nation of Panem and has been divided into 13 sections. Because of an uprising of District 13 years earlier, the government decided that the rest of the sections needed a lesson to keep the remaining 12 in line. So, Panem issued a new competition, The Hunger Games where two children from each district are picked by lottery to represent their section as “tributes.” Since there can be only one winner, all the children fight each other and try to survive in a wilderness area that is controlled by the government.

When Katniss’s sister is chosen to fight, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) offers herself to take her sister’s place. She is paired up with a male candidate, Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), that just so happens to be infatuated with her. Even though they both represent their territory, they still are forced to hunt down each other.

Before the big event, the two are whisked away on a luxury train to the Panem center where they are mentored by a drunken former champion, Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) and put on a national televised show to talk to Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) a talk show host. Then, the pair will face 22 other candidates with a variety of weapons to use on each other while the rest of the nation watches on giant screens and televisions in their home.

As with the Harry Potter films, the younger cast is surrounded by more seasoned actors including an unrecognizable Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, a clueless yet patriotic member of Panem, Wes Bentley as Seneca Crane, the game’s creator and Donald Sutherland as President Snow.

“The Hunger Games” starts at a slow pace at the beginning and takes a while for the story to speed up, but when it does, it is quite engaging and not very predictable – provided that you haven’t read the book first. I suspect that if you are a fan of the books, you will be a fan of the movies as well. Let’s just hope that Lionsgate will continue to provide a good storyline and strong production values with the next installments.

          

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