Thursday, May 10, 2012
Movie Review: The Hunger Games (2012)
The first book in the Suzanne Collins trilogy is given a grand screen treatment, and delivers an astounding experience. The Hunger Games is a triumph of soul and style over a brutal subject matter.
In District 12, a mining outpost and the furthest and poorest District, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to participate in The Hunger Games to save her randomly selected younger sister. Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) a baker's son, is the other District 12 representative. Katniss has strong survival skills and is an expert archer, while Peeta has strong upper body strength. After some rudimentary training and mentoring by the semi-drunk Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), District 12's only previous winner, Katniss and Peeta start the merciless tournament against 22 other kids, some of whom have trained their entire young lives for this competition.
The Hunger Games is also a celebration of story ahead of special effects. While there are plenty of eye-popping computer-generated visuals, they never dominate and are firmly in third place behind the powerful narrative and interesting characters.
Winter's Bone Lawrence is all defiant ability masking deep insecurities while pushing back against a rising tide of panic at her destiny. The other child competitors don't achieve much depth, Josh Hutcherson unable to convincingly embody an emerging warrior with romantic intentions.
Woody Harrelson and Donald Sutherland provide the supporting adult heft, Harrelson particularly memorable as the could-not-care-less Haymitch is sparked by the potential that he sees in Katniss. Elizabeth Banks and Stanley Tucci add interest as two over-the-top supporting characters, Banks a fashion catastrophe as the over-elaborately coiffed District 12 chaperon and Tucci as a most aggravating evolution of today's television talk show host.
The Hunger Games presents a chillingly unpleasant but imaginable dark future. While the horrors multiply, hope persists that the pure of heart will leave their mark.
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