The Hunger Games {Movie Review}…

{Photo courtesy of}

When the invitation to attend an advanced viewing of The Hunger Games with the purpose of reviewing it on my blog arrived in my inbox, I was excited.  My excitement stemmed from the fact an incredible opportunity was before me, not because I was an avid reader of the trilogy.  To be perfectly honest, I was first introduced to this highly anticipated movie through the email invite.  In addition, I did not know the movie was based on the first installment of Suzanne Collins’ wildly successful trilogy.  My unawareness, I believe, gave me a great foundation from which to review the movie itself.

While watching the film, feet propped up, a friend at my side, I couldn’t help but see it as a combination of the Oscar-Award Winning GLADIATOR, the Emmy-Award Winning SURVIVOR and the Emmy-Award Winning AMAZING RACE.  You have the competitors, the Gamemakers, and the spectators all playing their role in this outrageous competition in what has become the post North American era.

Post North American Era

North America is no longer itself.  Natural disasters have beaten the land down, gobbling up resources along with it.  Limited resources foster brutal wars among those remaining.  What results is a land which is desolate and wounded filled with people who are afraid, without hope and hungry.

Panem, a nation consisting of a great Capitol, rises out of the ashes.  Generations experience the peace and prosperity it brings.  All’s well until the districts rise against the Capitol.  This uprising ushers in the Dark Days.

During the Dark Days the land was ripped to shreds and many deaths were recorded.  After a long and difficult struggle, peace appeared in the form of the defeat of 12 districts and the total destruction of a thirteenth.  After the rebellion was squashed and the traitors dealt with, the nation swore they would never allow such an act of treason again.

The proclamation was sealed with the Treaty of Treason which provided new laws, laws that pledged and promised peace.  It also served as an annual reminder the Dark Days would not again return.  From then on, each year, a tribute was to be offered up ~ one brave boy and one brave girl, ages 12-18 ~ by each of the 12 districts.  “The Reaping” or choosing, gave the tribute chosen the honor and privilege of fighting in a game, a pageant, if you please — The Hunger Games.

The Competitors

It is during The Reaping we first catch a glimpse into the true nature of our main character, Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone).

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When her younger sister, Primrose (Willow Shields) is chosen as the “tribute”, Katniss volunteers in her place.  Her action receives a shocked response since no one has ever volunteered to be tribute.

Her male counterpart from District 12, Peeta Mallark (Josh Hutcherson) and Katniss complete the field of 24 competitors, 2 from each district.

The Team

After being selected as tribute, the two teens are ushered away via high speed train to the Capitol.  The train ride, filled with luxury beyond their imagination, is where they first meet their mentor, Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), a previous Hunger Games winner.  Haymitch is a part of a team meant to guide the tributes through the steps and processes as they prepare for the games themselves.

(Elizabeth Banks {Effie Trinket}, Woody Harrelson {Haymitch Abernathy} and Lenny Kravitz {Cinna}

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Each tribute, under the guidance of their team, will visit The Remake Center {where they’re cleaned up, polished and made presentable}, The Tribute Parade {where they’re introduced to the adoring crowd, making their first impression}, The Training Center {where they train with various weaponry and demonstrate their skills}, Interviews, learn how to accrue sponsorships {sponsors will send them food and medicine when needed during the games} and encourage them during the game itself.

Once training is complete, the games begin.

My Thoughts

Although the film ran a short “history of how we got here” at the beginning, I found myself asking a friend, who had read the books, to fill in the blanks for me.  I believe a little more background would have been helpful for those of us coming in cold.

Humor and intensity were interwoven well.  The over-the-top costuming of the district 1 spectators offset the fact the games pit teen against teen, district against district in a life and death competition for food.  As a viewer, I couldn’t help but chuckle when the camera panned the eager audience or gave Effie (pictured below) a close up.

{Photo courtesy of Hollywood Teen TV}

With the use of bows, arrows and genetically altered bees, a few scenes were more harsh and severe than others; however, they were few and far between.  The writing and directing beautifully focus the attention of the viewer on the inner struggle, the struggle to stay alive as well as provide food and resources for their family and entire district.  Furthermore, there was very little use of swearwords and absolutely no illicit sexual scenes.

It is my opinion that parents of children on or around age 13 should carefully evaluate and determine if their child has the maturity to watch this film.  It is a dark film, one in which teens hunt teens for sport, for survival.  There are scenes, for example, which depict a arrow entering another’s body. Thankfully, however, the scene is absent of blood and gore.  I strongly caution parents of children under age 13 to hold off on letting their children see the movie.  I wholeheartedly agree with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) PG-13 rating. Per the MPAA, the “PG-13 is thus a sterner warning to parents to determine for themselves the attendance in particular of their younger children as they might consider some material not suited for them. Parents, by the rating, are alerted to be very careful about the attendance of their under-teenage children.”

I give The Hunger Games 5/5 score.

I highly recommend.

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