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THE HUNGER GAMES, Film Review by John Delia

HIGH LEVEL

TEEN THRILLER

A TASTY

TREAT

THE HUNGER GAMES

By John Delia

 

The countdown has ended and The Hunger Games plays on screens all over the world.  The film that has had more Twitter, Facebook and other social networking than any other film released in America now gets tested at the box office.  But, do I think the film provides enough of the right stuff that will make it a winner?  Well hell YES!  

The story centers on Katniss Eberdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) a teen living in district 12 of the new North America called Panem.  The land has now been divided into 12 districts following a rebellion over food caused by drought, famine and war.  In order to keep control and to instill intimidation President Snow (Donald Sutherland) puts on a reality show called Hunger Games and hosted by the flamboyant Caesar Fickerman (Stanley Tucci).  

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) vie in The Hunger Games

Each year as a penalty for the uprising two teens, a boy and girl are chosen from each of the twelve districts by lottery to participate in a fight for their life by killing off the other 21competitors and be crowned the winner. Chosen as one of the contestants to save her younger sister, Katniss must show her cunning, strength and fearlessness to survive the heinous arena.

Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) and Katniss Everdeen

The intriguing premise alone had me wondering how the filmmakers could carry out such a diabolical event and make it entertainment.  I hadn’t read the book by Suzanne Collins on which the film is based, and avoided as many trailers as I could so the film would have no outside influence on me or even misconceptions for that matter.

I went into the special press screening with one thing in mind, how good is the film for the teenage target audience? I’m delighted to say that it hits the bull’s eye in every category, acting, directing, production and script.  I found myself enthralled by the interesting characters, sometimes angry with the reality show producers, but most of all entertained by the whole concept and creation.  Two hours and fifteen minutes flew by without a yawn or antsy dance in my seat.

Now for the accolades:  Congratulations to a fine cast lead by Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss the feisty fearless never-say-die female, Josh Hutcherson who plays Peta a young man who shows that strength lies in loyalty, Elizabeth Banks takes on the colorful Effie Trinket with a sparkling performance, Woody Harrelson provides an intimidating character with a plan and Stanly Tucci’s role of the flamboyant Caesar puts the cherry on the cake,

Putting this very good show together, Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, Pleasantville) uses every trick in his bag to suck in the audience; pity, fear, courage, revenge, and compassion are only a few. He keeps the film on target going straight for the teen market setting up a jealous lovers theme, strong action sequences, “beating the bullies” and even a glimmer of triumph over the oppressors.

If there is any downside to the film, it’s the length of the movie, I could have watched another 15 to 20 minutes of competition, but with the budget for the movie being already $100 million I’m sure that wouldn’t have been possible.

The Hunger Games has been rated PG-13 by the MPAA for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images – all involving teens.

FINAL ANALYSIS:  A teen feast of action and honor.  (A)

Additional film information:

  • Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, and Donald Sutherland
  • Directed by: Gary Ross
  • MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images – all involving teens
  • Genre: Action, Drama, Sci-fi, Teen
  • Running Time: 2 hrs 12 min
  • Opening Date: March 23, 2012
  • Distributed by: Lionsgate

Editorial Note: Suzanne Collins’ best-selling novel “The Hunger Games”, the first in a trilogy published by Scholastic that has over 26 million copies in print in the United States alone, has developed a massive global following. It has spent more than 180 consecutive weeks/more than three consecutive years to date on The New York Times bestseller list since its publication in September 2008, and has also appeared consistently on USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists.

 

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