The Hunger Games Attract The Children
Except if you’ve been living on the detached verges of world, you’ve certainly been seeing and/or hearing coverage about the latest best-selling book turned movie, “The Hunger Games”. As someone who, on the recommendations of a good friend, read the entire collection and who looked forward with some hesitation to the film adaptation, allow me to tell you if they made a successful jump from page to screen.
THE GOOD: The movie is based on the book “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins, with the follow-up books “Catching Fire” and “MockingJay” to round out the trilogy. The adventure is set around a young woman named Katniss Everdeen Jennifer Lawrence who is growing up in a world named Panem. After the existing nations of North America are destroyed by misfortune, Panem rises from the ashes and is ruled by the Capitol, filled with wealthy and egotistical people–and surrounded by 12 powerless “districts”.
As the film starts, there is the starting scene of the annual “Hunger Games” ritual, where each district is forced to supply two child “tributes”-one male and one female-as a penance for the attempt of a previous uprising. These 24 young people are then placed inside an arena to fight to the death while cameras catch their every move. From District 12 we witness as Katniss and Peeta Mellark Josh Hutcherson are chosen to fight, and follow them to the Capital where they are prepped and made over in a twisted form of celebrity ending with an appearance on a talk show hosted by Caesar Flickerman Stanley Tucci who interviews each one with love and humor, all in the name of entertainment for the people of the Capital. These people are so caught up in their abundance of EVERYTHING, as well as their appearances, that they are completely ignorant to the fact that these are actually children being taken from their families and dying in the most terrible manner. It’s frightening and horrible…and it makes a great tale.
All the tributes have a mentor, who has fought beforehand in the games and won. Katniss and Peeta are somewhat dissatisfied when they meet theirs: a drunken mess of a man named Haymitch played by Woody Harrelson. Haymitch is in charge for giving them hints and pointers on how to succeed in the arena, and although you can’t help but be doubtful of his usefulness, Harrelson nails the character beautifully.
THE BAD: Undoubtedly, watching a movie about children killing each other is disturbing. However, the story seems to educate, on at least some level, the dangers of a government becoming so large that only a select group of people have rights and privileges, while others are left with nothing. Do I believe that a government could become so out of control that it would actually give up children as a form of amusement? My “I like to believe the very best about people and their intents” side says “no of course not”, but you have to admit it’s not a far stretch of the imagination for it to happen when you look at what other seemingly logical and advanced civilizations have been capable of. This is what makes it both an appealing story and one that is difficult to watch.
Remember that the flick has been rated PG-13 for a reason, there is something very powerful and troubling about watching these scenes play out on the big screen.
THE UGLY: It’s hard to choose which scene in the film is the MOST realistic, because when children are involved, all death scenes are terrible…but the one that I felt the most nauseated
by was during an attack of “Tracker Jackers” which are lethal bees, and the damage they inflicted on the victims.
As a huge fan of these books, I was uncertain that they could be made into a film that did justice to the strong images that played out in my head while reading them. I am thrilled to be able to tell you that, for all goals and purposes, they nailed it. If you have read the books, I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed with the final results. If you are one of those who have not yet read the trilogy, you will still find the movie entertaining and well done, but do yourself a favor and read the books before the next, “Catching Fire”which comes out next November…..you’ll be glad you did.