Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Hunger Games

I haven't done a movie review in a long, long time. That's primarily due to the fact that I only go to see one about every three months. Unless it's Disney or animated, I generally have to go by myself, and I lose enthusiasm for going when I can't share it with someone. However, when it's a national "blockbuster" movie that everyone seems to be talking about, I sometimes will go just so I can know what they are talking about. That is the reason I went to see The Hunger Games yesterday. I meant to read the book first, but my get-around-to-it list of books to read is out of control right now, but I hope to read the entire trilogy before the next movie comes out - remember I said "I hope."
I'd heard about the essential plot of the story before, but it was still disturbing to watch a movie about teens killing teens - but then, it's on the evening news every night isn't it? It is a fast-action drama that grabs your attention immediately and forces you to stay glued to every second. For me it helped that the opening scene was about a bowhunter stalking a deer, which got away - to the relief of PETA folks across the nation - but not so for the bird that was arrowed minutes later. That set the tone for the plot that this Katniss Everdeen girl was no ordinary sixteen year old.
It was 1984 meets Apocalypto. In a futuristic setting, twelve districts that had been part of a rebellion against the nation are forced to offer up two teen Tributes to represent their district in The Hunger Games. The names are drawn from a bin that contains everyone in that district from the age of 12 to 18. It's a survival of the fittest, kill or be killed, there can only be one, giant reality show for the enjoyment of the the whole country. Considering what they had to do to kill off so many kids (yes, some who clearly looked 12 or 13) it was not nearly as gory as it could have been.
The main story line is what Katniss and her fellow Tribute Peeta do to survive and to literally "play the game". It's an awful indictment on where reality TV could go. What they learn to do to "play to the crowd" and gain favor and support from the cheering masses is one of the more interesting twists in the plot. Then, woven through all the reality TV hype is the political scheming by the government who are using the Games to carry out their own interests.
I am sure than anyone who has read the book would feel like the movie left a lot out. I would love to have had more development of the characters, which you don't have time for in a movie, but the redeeming qualities of the story include compassion, sacrifice, kindness, bravery, and loyalty to family and friends. These are the values that keep you from being depressed by the ruthlessness, inequities, exploitation, blood lust, and white-washed cruelty of the world featured The Hunger Games.
Okay, I enjoyed it because I love action adventure drama, and I love any story about someone overcoming the odds that are stacked against them. It had great acting and some incredible stars like Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, and Woody Harrelson. Still, it was depressing driving home and thinking, "I'm glad I don't live in a world that treats so insignificantly the life of its teens!" Then I remembered the three teens shot over the weekend in street violence downtown. And the almost weekly news stories of teens killed in car accidents because they weren't wearing seat belts. And...well you get the idea. Then I thought, "I'm glad I don't live in a world that has such terrible love for such terrible reality TV." Oops!

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