Movie Review: The Hunger Games

Movie Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games

 

PG-13 for intense thematic violent material and disturbing
images – all involving teens.
Genre: Action, adventure, adaptation, sci-fi, fantasy.
Running Time: 2 hours 22 minutes

Inspired by the best-selling young-adult novel by author Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games tells the tale of a 16 year old girl named Katniss Everdeen who’s selected to compete in a vicious televised tournament. The games feature 24 teenagers from a post-apocalyptic society fighting to the death for the entertainment of the masses.

Was The Hype Worth It?

The Hunger Games opened to much fanfare and even before it hit the big screen was breaking records all over the place. But – is this dark tale worth the hype? This movie broke all kinds of records for its debut weekend. Pulling in an estimated $155 million dollars from Friday to Sunday, The Hunger Games becomes the most successful debut ever for a non-sequel. It also set a first-day record for a non-sequel with more than $68 million dollars in ticket sales for a Friday while it pulled in close to $20 million from midnight screenings! This of course sets the stage for sequels and more as I’m sure this is not the last time we will hear from The Hunger Games franchise. Actually, from those who’ve read the books, they say this first installment in The Hunger Games franchise sets things up quite nicely for future movies.

Survivor On Steroids

The movie’s plot line revolves around a 16 year old named Katniss Everdeen who volunteers in her younger sister’s place to enter the games. She is then forced to rely on her instincts for survival and the mentor ship of a drunken former victor of the games.

The best way to describe The Hunger Games is to consider it a season of Survivor on steroids.

We have 24 teens from 12 different districts competing to survive these grueling games in the wilderness. Not only must they survive in the wilderness as the other contestants try to kill them, the games are also televised in a sick reality TV show kind of way where people cheer on their favorite competitor. Sponsors are obtained so care-packages can be sent in. Of course in what is supposed to be real and un-touched adventure, the games are manipulated by the organizers. Computer generated storms, genetically altered killer bees and even wild animals are tossed into the mix in all an effort to determine the outcome and the victor in the games.

While the ending is somewhat predictable, the build-up is full of suspense, action and at times some rather dry humor tossed in just for good measure. Of course the humor sprinkled throughout the movie helps to give some breathing points from time to time in this close to two and a half hour flick. If you’re a regular reader of the reviews here you know my dislike for movies clocking in more than 2 hours. So – to say the least – I was somewhat skeptical about walking into this movie. I knew The Hunger Games was based on a book and I knew it was supposed to be some kind of big best-seller too. But I also knew most book-turned-movies are long and nothing more than bloated attempts trying to cram the written word into a movie extravaganza.

I am happy to report The Hunger Games does not drag on like many two plus hour movies. As a matter of fact, the overall flow keeps the plot line moving forward and the time goes by rather quickly. I looked at my watch just once and that was not because I was bored. I looked to see where we were in the time frame of the movie because for the most part, this movie kept my attention.

A Good Mix of Young and Old Performers

When it comes to acting talent The Hunger Games has quite the list of both established stars and up-and-coming stars and they all do a wonderful job. The established stars like Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci and Woody Harrelson help bring balance to a somewhat hectic movie. As for the younger crowd involved in the movie – Jennifer Lawrence who’s best known for her portrayal of Raven-Mystique in X-Men: First Class puts in a great performance as the lead character Katniss Everdeen wh0 fights for her life in the games.

However, the surprise performance in this movie comes from Josh Hutcherson. After pretty much panning the young star for his lack-luster performance in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, there might be hope for this 20 year old after all. It could be this young man may have suffered from type-casting-blues after his stint in movies like The Mysterious Island, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Firehouse Dog and Zathura just to mention a few. The immature boy-next-door-look has been dropped as Hutcherson tackles the role of Peeta Mellark in The Hunger Games. Here’s hoping we see more similar performances from this young – and what could be talented actor – in the future.

When it comes to rating – parents keep in mind – The Hunger Games is based on a self-described young-adult novel. That means this is by no means family-friendly for a PG-13 audience. Teens are not young-adults, therefore it should be evident that this movie is not for young and middle teens. As a result we have to call this moving cautionary family-friendly. It’s really best to stick with the target audience of young-adult which means – at best – the 16 and above crowd.

Cautiously enjoy the show!

Dr. Rus

About the Author

Dr. Rus has 30+ years experience in the field of communication. He takes this experience, and his passion to encourage others to positively effect their environment, when providing insight and movie reviews.