Movie Review: “Hunger Games”

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by Julie Kelley

            This movie is for tweens!  But maybe not…  My kids have read this trilogy written by Suzanne Collins, which leads off with “The Hunger Games”.  Thus the pressure to see this movie was ON like Donkey Kong.  The opening scene is in what is clearly a mining village, complete with ramshackle shacks and the worn-out, tired but hardworking people who make up the community.  Katniss Everdeen is a loving older sister who is bent on taking care of her family in the absence of her father, who died in a mining accident.

In the new world around which this movie centers, there is a Capitol and 12 districts.  The central premise is that there was an uprising of some sort which lead to the division of the nation into districts.  The Hunger Games are entertaining in a sick way, but also a continuous warning to the people of the districts to never attempt an uprising again.  The Hunger Games are a distasteful form of control.  You see, the citizens of the districts are required to watch.

Each year, a boy and a girl, between the ages of 12-18, are chosen from each district by random drawing and presented as a tribute by each district to be submitted to the Hunger Games.  Katniss lives in District 12 and her younger sister is drawn as the female and Katniss bravely volunteers in her place.  The male from District 12 is Peeta, played well by Josh Hutcherson.  Effie Trinket is a District 12 Representative and her pompous, colorful character is well played by Elizabeth Banks.  Effie and a prior Hunger Games victor, played by Woody Harrelson, travel with the tributes from District 12 to the Capitol for the game.  In the Capitol, the tributes from the districts are prepared to fight and survive, in the span of just a few days.  They are also glammed up in order to win sponsorships while in the game.

The frightening outcome of the Hunger Games is that only 1 of the 24 tributes can win.  A “win” means 23 children between the ages of 12 and 18 are now very dead.  What makes the whole scenario even worse is that the adults in power consistently wish the tributes a HAPPY Hunger Games, as if there is anything happy about it.

Some of the districts spend time preparing their young for the games by way of battle tactics and hand to hand combat.  Other districts are more blue collar and the children spend time working to provide for their families, not preparing for the games.  Stanley Tucci is the smarmy talk show host who interviews the tributes and comments throughout the game.  His crazy blue hair and brilliant white, toothy smile up the creep factor.

The man behind the game planning is portrayed well by Wes Bentley, who has quite interesting facial hair and the furrowed brow of the surely not right in the head.  He is cool as a cucumber and in control at all times, glad handing and schmoozing with the monied while orchestrating the game through staff at his command.  The game, including all 24 players, is being recorded at all times.  When a player dies, a cannon shot reverberates for all to hear.

There is no privacy in the game, despite the playing ground of an immense forest (filmed in and around the beautiful Asheville, NC).  Not only that, adults are constantly manipulating the game.  It isn’t a matter of a victor coming through on their own, the adults can control who even has the chance at victory.

The fights are interesting and well thought out.  There is evidence of the clever throughout this movie and the dialogue was well written.  This movie was incredibly visually appealing, from the costuming to the filming locations.  The more rich the person, the more outlandish the outfits the person wears.  For instance, Effie Trinket has eyelashes that match an accent in her outfit, which tie in to a ludicrous but matching manicure.  The casting was incredibly well done.  I definitely heard some grumbling from the kids about the actors cast as Katniss and Peeta, but after seeing the movie, even the kids agree that Lawrence and Hutcherson were good choices.  I can’t tell you how this ends, particularly if you haven’t read the books, but I will leave you with this spoiler alert: Lenny Kravitz.

^^Did I feel like pulling out my cell phone because I was bored rating?^^  NOT ONCE

To see a preview for this movie, click on this link:

Tickets for The Hunger Games are on sale at Harkins Theatres’ box office and online at

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