Hunger Games, the movie everyone has been talking about, hit theaters last Friday. As a fan of the books, I joined a few of my friends at the midnight showing. Since the hype over these books and movie as been compared to that of the Twilight series, I was afraid I would be seated among a sea of squealing pre-teens. While, this was to an extent true, there were also a smattering of male moviegoers, which made me feel slightly better about my choice in books.
Just in case you didn't know. The Hunger Games is set in the dystopian Panem (formerly known as North America). Panem was originally 13 Districts, ruled over by the Capitol, but sometime in the past, the districts rebelled and were defeated. District 13 was obliterated and the remaining districts are forced each year to give a boy and a girl between the ages of 12-18, to compete in a televised fight to the death. The story focuses on Katniss, a young woman who hunts for her family's food in the poor and desolate District 12. She volunteers herself for the Hunger Games when her 12 year old sister is picked and is sent to the Capitol with Peeta, a boy who has secretly harbored a crush on Katniss. The pair are set loose with 22 other tributes in a forest like environment, and the games begin.
I, overall, enjoyed the movie. The film had the right combination of old Hollywood talent and fresh new faces. Donald Sutherland played a subtle but threatening President Snow, leader of the Capitol. Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss) managed to portray her as both tough and vulnerable, reminding us that Katniss is only a teenager, forced to live in a violent and unfair world.
My only problem with the movie, which maybe Hollywood wouldn't let it avoid, was the romanticization of the ending. The question throughout the entire book is whether Katniss actually loves Peeta or is just pretending for the sake of the cameras. The movie ignores this and lets the pair return home as smiling lovers, holding hands. Even Gale, Katniss's other suitor who was left at home, is smiling as Katniss and Peeta hold hands on their return.
I think the main reason that I liked this movie was because I was already a fan of the books. The movie doesn't stray too far from the books, satisfying the fans in that respect. The acting is well done but the storyline becomes a bit contrived in parts, making this more a movie for the readers. The story itself serves as a warning to the worst possible future for reality of television. This idea as been approached before by other sci fi writers (i.e Running Man, Stephen King), but the use of younger characters allows this book to draw in the younger crowds, just as Harry Potter did to fantasy, and regrettably Twilight did to vampires.