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The Hunger Games
Special Effects (1)
Length & Pace (1)
Categories: Science Fiction
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Points: 1610 (Level 3)
Length & Pace:
The Hunger Games is based on the book of the same name. Though it was considered a "young adult" novel, it is more violent than one would expect from that genre. Just the concept in general is pretty malevolent. The Hunger Games refer to an annual event in which a group of 12 to 18 year-olds kill each other until one survives. It takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where a government metropolis, known as the Capitol, holds power over its nation by initiating such extreme laws such as these mandatory games.
The focus of the film is on Katniss who actually volunteers to represent her district in order to replace her younger sister who has been chosen. Luckily, Katniss is very skilled in the art of hunting due to living in one of the poorest districts and often needing to find food on her own. Each district sends one boy and one girl to the Hunger Games, and she is partnered with a boy named Peeta who seems much less skilled. Once the movie shifts its setting to the Capitol, it becomes a feast for the eyes. It's a very advanced looking metropolis, and most of the inhabitants and spectators wear outrageous costumes along with heavy makeup. Even their hairstyles are often extreme and have varied colors. This is all new to Katniss and Peeta, who are put in lavish penthouse suites and treated to top cuisine. But it's hard to get excited over such things when your impending death is near. After all, you only have a 1 in 24 chance of surviving the Hunger Games.
The games are set in the wilderness though which is perfect for Katniss. However, some participants have advantages and may be more well-equipped for survival; the wealthier districts train their children specifically for the event. Katniss and Peeta are seen as underdogs due to where they come from. The whole country watches it as a spectacle, almost like it's the Super Bowl. It's pretty sickening when you think about it. It's one thing to root for who will survive, but that involves the slaying of all the other children. There have been similar movies such as The Running Man with Arnold Schwarzenegger. But even in that, the people were watching convicts get hunted, not innocent children. The film has also been compared to the Japanese movie Battle Royale which has the exact same concept and came out over 10 years ago. That showed a lot more violence and gore though. The Hunger Games manages to cut back on a lot of its violence with quick editing which allows it to have a PG-13 rating. We see children die but there's not much blood, and the deaths usually occur very quickly.
There are quite a few problems with the storyline though. We're told at the beginning that the games were initiated as punishment for a recent uprising against the government. But there's not much else said about that. The film avoids making any real social commentary that it could have seized upon. And it's hard to rationalize a future where our own government executes innocent children and the citizens watch it like a sport. It's also not fair that the Capitol interferes so much in the games and somehow even create deadly predators out of thin air to carry out their own preferences of who should win. We can't expect government to always be fair, but it certainly takes away from the premise of the children eliminating each other in order to survive. And what about the age range of 12 to 18? Obviously the 12 year-olds are at a great disadvantage against the older kids. Aside from these missteps with the story, the film is executed as well as possible. It has a great cast that brings this futuristic society to life. The camera work is intentionally shaky at times which intensifies many of the scenes. It's an all-around entertaining film as much as it may be hard for some to watch due to its disturbing plot. And there are 2 more books in the series so you can expect sequels in the near future. I'll take these over the Twilight series any day.
Recommendations: The Shawshank Redemption (1994), Se7en , 25th Hour
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