Tuesday, March 20, 2012
The Hunger Games
If you're at all plugged into pop culture, chances are you've at least heard of 'The Hunger Games'. It's a wildly popular book from 2008, the first of a trilogy, and has been a highly anticipated movie for some time. Well, get ready for what will surely be the first mega-successful blockbuster of the year, because unlike 'John Carter', this one's actually pretty good.
I didn't know much at all about the storyline, which is the way I prefer to go into a movie. So I won't ruin any of it for those of you who feel the same. But to give you a flavor, the story takes place in a post apocalyptic society where 24 teenagers are selected at random every year against their will to compete in a reality television show, which ends when only one person remains. Call this one 'Survivor' meets 'The Running Man'. For my money, that's a pretty good pitch and it works really well, at least for the majority of the 2 hour and 22 minute runtime, which doesn't feel long at all. The lead is played by Jennifer Lawrence ('Winter's Bone') who gives a fine performance, while Josh Hutcherson ('Journey to the Center of the Earth' and 'Journey 2') is satisfactory at best. The supporting cast is great though, including Woody Harrelson (who continues to be one of my favorite actors of late), Stanley Tucci (as the over-the-top host a la Richard Dawson from 'The Running Man'), Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, and Lenny Kravitz. The action scenes are exciting and with a real sense of danger (even though it's pretty obvious the protagonist's safety is guaranteed until at least the end.) But the violence isn't excessive or gratuitous, thus making this PG-13 film ok for teens. All in all, I was totally into it, at least until the end when a few cheesy turns occur, headed to a way too cheesy ending. I understand this is a fault of the book rather than the movie, and unfortunately a necessary evil in order to make this appreciable by the masses, and particularly the targeted teenage girl demographic, but I would have preferred it to be more than a smidge darker. But that's how I roll.