Last Saturday night I chose to treat myself to see a movie which I had meant to see the week before, however I opted out to in order to attend the memorial service for my recently passed high school physics teacher. Throughout the whole opening weekend, I saw a lot of a postings on my Facebook news feed describing how awesome this movie is and why I should go see it. The anticipation was immense, I tell ya.
I’m not going to preach on about why you have to read the book before you see the movie and vice versa. I am not that much of a forward thinking hipster. However as part of the late majority, I will say that the movie stands on its own without reading the book prior, I’m pretty sure some of the concepts and stories positioned in the film are understood better by reading the book first, however it is not necessary and you will not feel alienated or anything, so no worries.
Basically, this movie has been compared to other “last man standing” types of films like The Running Man and the Japanese film Battle Royale, which is practically identical to the Hunger Games in many ways. However, what I liked most about THG (The Hunger Games) was their emphasis on backstory and setting, which plays a huge role in explaining the society and infrastructure placed within the futuristic, dystopian setting of The Hunger Games. Essentially speaking, the film is set in a future republic called Panem where the capitol has divided their nation’s citizens into twelve distinct districts all with different professions which drive their economies. As a punishment for the districts rioting against the Capitol many years before, there is now an annual contest where 12 males and 12 females are selected at random to participate in The Hunger Games. The prize for the champion of the Hunger Games being that their whole district is fed well for the whole year. It goes explained in little detail about why the Hunger Games exist or more details about the riot that initiated the existence of THG, however the context and opening story from the characters in the film, particularly Haymitch and Effie (the curator) bring more light to the backstory. In quick summary, the world in THG is an authoritarian government where the 12 Districts are under the control of the Capitol, and the residents of the districts are practically their slaves and life a life of servitude to The Capitol.
The casting and characters in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games are also memorable as well. Katniss, which is played by Jennifer Lawrence in the film, is a likable heroine who is the film’s protagonist and a young woman of noble virtue. She volunteers herself to participate in The Hunger Games after her younger sister is selected at random to compete. Katniss is highly skilled in hunting/archery, and she is a very powerful fighter too. Peeta, whom is the male representative for District 12 in THG is a brash young man whom is a baker’s son who comes from a wealthier family deveiod of any real hardship. He actually once helped Katniss’s family once when he gave a begging Katniss a loaf of bread. Gale is another boy which Katniss fancies from District 12, whom does not participate in this year’s Hunger Games, but his existence establishes a love triangle which will surely develop in the later books and films for The Hunger Games. The sexual tension is definitely there, and the groundwork is definitely well set in the film. Haymitch whom is played by Woody Harrelson, is an alcohol loving “mentor” whom is at first reluctant to help Katniss and Peeta, however as the movie progresses, you begin to like his character more. This same ratio of likeability also goes for the neurotic and morally complicated curator of The Hunger Games, Effie, whom is very well dressed throughout the film. Other participants in the Games worth mentioning are Rue, who is a young girl from District 7, and Cato whom is a goal oriented fighter, hellbent on winning the games. He represents District 1. There are other characters in the film such as the President of the Capitol and Cinna (played by Lenny Kravitz), also become vital characters later on in the story.
Basically, The Hunger Games is set up like a reality show, where the author (Suzanne Collins) paints the influence of Battle Royale, The Truman Show, Survivor, Blade Runner, and The Running Man to create a very interesting story where the “Tributes” (Hunger Games participants), compete for “Sponsors.” (Spectators whom help the Tributes survive in the Games). This idea of sponsorship becomes critical in the Games where the tributes will often need tools to survive such as food, medicine, water, etc. This self serving idea of public relations, also creates an interesting proposition from Peeta, in which Katniss pretends to be in love with Peeta in order to gain appraisal from the Sponsors. Audiences eat up a good love story you know? The audience of The Hunger Games demand a show, and the Capitol will stop at nothing to make sure that an entertaining show is what they have for their rabid audience.
In a nutshell and without giving anything away, I would recommend seeing the film. Especially if you’re like me and you like to keep on top of all the latest hypes and trends in the entertainment industry. When I walked into the movie theatre that night, I was worried that the audience was going to be mostly bookish females whom were more Team Edward over Team Jacob. However I was pleased to see that people from all walks of life were watching the film, and I didn’t have to worry about having to downplay to my friends about seeing this film on the big screen. (I did see the first Twilight film just for the record though.) After seeing this film, I ordered the books off Amazon in a box set for a very affordable price, and I started asking people about the film online and in person the next day at a volunteer gig I was doing for my Capstone class. Everyone has suggested I read the books, and even one of my friends professed that he read all three books in three days and that I would love them. I’m quite excited to get my hands on these bad boys, and maybe I’ll spend some of my Easter Sunday worming up with these savory tomes of literary deliciousness. Isn’t the book written for young adults anyways? So yeah, it’s worth a trip even if you haven’t read the books yet. I have not given anything away, you will thank me later.
May The Odds Ever Be In Your Favor.