If you've never heard of The Hunger Games, you clearly pay no attention to anything related to pop culture. The book originally came out in 2008. Author Suzanne Collins released two more sequels, in 2009 and 2010. There was a huge buzz when it was announced that the books would be turned into movies, and that buzz resulted in the third-highest grossing opening weekend in movie history.

The quick-and-dirty description is this: sometime in the future, there is a great civil war. What is left of the United States and North America is divided into 13 Districts, ruled by The Capitol. Every year, The Capitol organizes "The Hunger Games"; two children, aged 12-18, are selected from each district. Those children then fight to the death til only one remains and is declared the winner.

Reviewing strictly the movie, and not taking into account any of the books, I actually enjoyed myself. I'm sure die-hard fans of the book can find many things to complain over, but going into it as blindly as I did, I still found it a good movie.

The main character is Katniss Everdeen, played by the lovely Jennifer Lawrence. Katniss is a 16 year old girl, so obviously the movie is slanted towards young adults. I think if this was a gritty indie film, the violence would have been much more severe and graphic, but despite the demographic there is a good amount of carnage and bloodshed.

The things I usually judge a movie on (acting, writing, cinematography) were better than I expected. The cast of the kids battling in the game had a few weak points, but the cast of adults organizing everything was made up of great stars like Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz and more. The writing managed to not sound like simple pandering to teenage girls, and was believably realistic. The cinematography was a bit too hectic at times, with shaky camerawork becoming a bit of a distraction.

Being part of a trilogy of books, the movie ends without real resolution. The Hunger Games can work as a stand-alone film, but there are many questions and plotlines left unresolved that will come up in future sequels. I am now faced with the decision of whether to read the books to answer the questions, or just wait for the rest of the movies.



The Hunger Games scores a 7 out of 10  on the Celluloid Hero scale.


[Each week, Varacchi explores cinema from his own perspective. From indie to foreign to mainstream, he'll watch it all. Suggestions and recommendations are welcome, leave a comment below.]

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