If you haven’t heard, the widely popular book-now-turn opening Summer Blockbuster, Hunger Games have been making waves in your local cinema the past few days. If you haven’t seen it or even if you don’t know about the books we urge you to splurge on yourselves this coming vacation and catch it theaters.
Hunger Games is an annual tournament given by the ruling city of Capitol to all its 12 Districts as a sign of remembrance, peace and retribution to the previously failed rebellion of all Districts against them. From each District, Capitol takes a girl and a boy from an age range of 12 to 18 to compete in a winner-takes-all battle-to-the death competition that are sensationalized and televised across the land.
The story takes place on the 74th year of this bloody carnage and focuses on the young competitors, known as Tributes, of District 12—the poorest of the Districts.
When 16-year-old main heroine Katniss Everdeen’s (Jennifer Lawrence, X-Men First Class) younger sister was chosen as Tribute to the 74th Hunger Games, she steps in to intercede and volunteer herself instead. Partnered with another Tribute, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson, The Kids Are Alright/ Zathura), the two are shipped out of the coal-mining District 12 towards hyper-modern Capitol to be trained and paraded and await their fate in the games. In their journey they meet constantly drunk mentor-to-be Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), avant garde escort to District 12 Ms. Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks, Zack and Miri Make a Prono) and brilliant fashion stylist Cinna (Lenny Kravitz).
Competing against 24 other individuals, the Hunger Games produces only 1 winner which means that Katniss and Peeta aren’t necessarily companions but are, in reality, competitors.
The beauty of Hunger Games lies with the Director and the cast performance. It could easily go the campy and totally unwatchable Twilight Franchise but it didn’t. In fact I wouldn’t even put it near that league. Director/Screenwriter Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, Pleasantville) offers an artistic lens to a totally commercial film and make it surprisingly delectable—that’s not an easy feat to do.
Rising actress Jennifer Lawrence’s performance as Katniss also gave us a teen heroine that we haven’t been seeing on screen of late. Her performance as the emotionally strong, driven and courageous daughter/sister/friend gives meaning to the script and dialogue given to her. The full range of emotion that this girl gave in Hunger Games showed more acting prowess than her other Summer Blockbuster hit X-Men First Class as Mystique. Of course that’s not to say that the other supporting actors are wusses, but what attracts the audience towards Katniss more than her stunning beauty is her honest (and very believable) courage.
The inclusion of seasoned cast members also lent some gravitas towards the film. Stanley Tucci’s performance as Hunger Games host/master of ceremonies Caesar Flickerman gave an otherwise 2D character great depth.
The musical selection also adds to the surprise I got from the film. Again with this genre of film it could go all emo-rock but the people who made the film decided otherwise. They chose musical pieces that reflect Katniss’ believable and courage silent self. I’m not a Taylor Swift fan but I have to say, the song “Safe and Sound” has been ringing in my ear literally hours after the movie credits.
Is the film flawless? Hardly. There are some bumps along the way, but if you’re watching this film with the intention of going along for the ride and being entertained then this film is definitely a must. Skip Wrath of the Titans, even John Carter and go directly to something that really delivers. Try to catch it before the week ends and you start going out of town for Holy Week. Happy hunting and may the odds be ever in your favor.
Unbox Rating: 3.75/5
Unbox Tip: If you haven’t read the book, go see the movie first. As with anything the book will always trump the movies.