The Hunger Games


(out of 5)

Deliverance and Westworld are combined for the teen set in this terrific adaptation of the popular novel by Suzanne Collins. It takes place in the chillingly not-so-distant future, where humanity’s crimes against itself have resulted in an authoritative government that chooses to control the need for violent expression in an unusual way (at least unusual unless you’ve already seen The Tenth Victim, or read about a thousand books about dystopian futures): relegating it to a series of games in which young people from various districts of what used to be the United States compete to the death for food.   volunteers for her sector after her sister is chosen by the random Shirley Jacksonesque lottery that determines these things, suddenly finding herself the subject of national attention as she is prepped and trained (by a stylist, not a physical trainer, in one of the film’s many not-so-subtle commentaries on the future of celebrity obsession) for the days she will spend in the wilderness foraging for food and hunting down her fellow players. There are a lot of concerns to be expressed here regarding the violence depicted: young teens (some of them as young as twelve) going at each other with knives will be a problem for the more conservative viewer, but what Collins was likely getting at, and what director Gary Ross seems to understand without overstating the point, is that children being literally at each other’s throats is the expected outcome of a culture that forces young people to acquire agency and accomplishment, both professional and sexual, at a young age before achieving the maturity that is normally supposed to cultivate these things. The film itself is a great entertainment despite a few drawbacks: Gary Ross is far too anxious to get through a novel’s worth of plot to really let the film wallow in any of its narrative conceits, and some of the supporting cast members fail to be anything more than silly cameos (‘s wig is distracting,  can be gussied up in a crazy outfit and makeup but is still one of the most two-dimensional, dishonest actors in movies). What really makes it tick is Lawrence herself, a superb performance from this exceptionally charismatic actor who gives the film all of its emotional depth and forces you to care about her character’s outcome.

Lionsgate, Color Force

USA, 2012

Directed by 

Screenplay by Gary Ross, , , based on the novel by Suzanne Collins

Cinematography by 

Produced by ,

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by

Film Editing by , ,

New York Film Critics Awards 2012

Golden Globe Award Nomination
Best Original Song-Motion Picture (“Safe and Sound”, lyrics by Taylor Swift, John Paul White, Joy Williams, lyrics by T Bone Burnett, John Paul White, Joy Williams


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