In a futuristic society, a tournament is held once a year in memory of an open rebellion that occurred several years ago. The tournament, called The Hunger Games, pits a single male and a single female from 12 Districts against each other in a fight to the death. This is supposedly to remind everyone of the rebellion while at the same time keeping the populace in control. Those chosen are from the ages 12-18 years old and after being put on display in front of the upper-class audience, they are trained, groomed, and sent off to their deaths. The winner will receive fame and glory while the loser shall face the reaper.
The movie follows District 12 member Katriss. When her sister is chosen for the Hunger Games, Katriss volunteers in her place. Also from her district is the young man Peeta and together they must face the horrors of the Hunger Games.
This was one of those movies I avoided when it came out. Not because I was not interested in it, but because I knew that it would be one of those movies that would attract huge audiences. This is normally not a bad thing (I frankly don’t care if the movie is something like Avengers because the story isn’t something that is so in-depth that I must pay attention to every second) but for a franchise I don’t know anything about, I’d prefer to avoid the crowds.
My first impression was that this was going to be another film full of pretty-faces that remain pretty throughout the entirety of the movie. Fortunately, while the cast lacked a gritty appearance, this was not the case. We had a lot of grit, dirt, some blood, and grime as the movie plays out
The movie starts off a bit slow but this is to delve us into its universe. We get some good character development between Kat and Peeta, we get to see just how desensitized the upper-class is to all of this violence, and we get a good feeling of just what the Hunger Games is all about. This is not just a battle to the death, this is a gladiatorial sport. The rich cheering on the deaths of the lower class, choosing of favorites, even sending their favorites gifts to help ensure their survival.
And the kids chosen are not all blood-thirsty monsters. While the start of the Hunger Games shows the brutality of the games (with a very impressive body count I may add), we get to see that there are others who do not want to win through killing, but through out-surviving the competition.
I really enjoyed seeing the Upper-Class. Huge crowds full of beautiful people who cheer on these children, encouraging them to slaughter one another without once caring about the fact that these are innocent lives. It’s sickening in a fascinating way. The people who are in charge of grooming the kids are equally fascinating as they honestly want their chosen ones to survive. They give real advice, true experiences, and show them how to play the audience in order to get the most help.
Kat herself is a likable character too. She is not some tom-boy who kicks fifty kinds of ass nor is she some dainty little flower. She is a girl who has grown up in a harsh life and know show to handle a harsh tournament. She is not a girl who trusts easily and throughout the whole movie you can sense her hesitation when dealing with everyone around her. She is also not afraid to take someone’s life if it means defending her own or someone else’s. She is not so hardened that she stops caring for others, nor is she so emotional that she is easily tricked. It’s a very good balance that carries throughout the entire film.
Peeta is just as interesting but in a different way. You are never sure if you can trust him or not and it helps add tension between he and Kat.
The “Villains” of the film are sick sociopaths who not only have no issues in killing others, they actually enjoy it. They mock their victims and it really makes for easy-to-hate characters which this movie needs.
Violence-wise, I was surprised with what they show on screen. As a PG-13 movie, I expected most of the deaths to be bloodless but there was a surprisingly amount of blood in some scenes. It’s not Evil-Dead in terms of gore by any sense, but it is more blood than I am used too for PG-13 movies. While I always think there can be more brutality in movies like this, I understand the age-range it is aiming at and I can respect that.
Now I understand this movie got a lot of criticism due to being compared with Battle Royale or The Running man, but frankly I don’t care. It is about being entertained and this movie does that beautifully.
The storyline, the characters, the brutality, and the overall atmosphere of the movie was very well appreciated and it kept my interest from start to end. In fact, so much so that I am really looking forward to the sequel to see how it pans out. I wouldn’t mind if the film took on a more gritty atmosphere with the use of camera filters (maybe making the movie a bit more gray to reflect the bitterness of the situation), but it is just a small detail. I can take it or leave it.
Give this movie a chance if you have some time to kill. While it takes a while for the Games to begin, remember that this is for character development. So many movies just thrust a character into a situation before giving the audience a chance to bond with them that the time spent on Peeta and Kat is appreciated very much.
I really enjoyed this movie and I look forward to the next installment.