A solid adaptation of the YA blockbuster novel, The Hunger Games
is a ripping yarn which uses the verdant forests and crumbling mill towns of Western North Carolina to dramatic advantage. In the dystopian future of a devastated North America, there is a deep chasm between the haves and have nots. Former rebel districts are punished by being forced to offer up teens for tribute in a gladiatorial duel to the death, a queasy premise. In showing a reality TV show gone mad, The Hunger Games
is critical of our own voyeuristic appetites, particularly the thirst for violence.
The film is imaginatively designed and well cast, with Jennifer Lawrence bringing proper backbone and petulance to heroine Katniss, while Stanley Tucci (like a blue bouffanted Ryan Seacrest in front of his bank of Panem Idol video screens), Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz and Donald Sutherland are the adults of varying trustworthiness. Like the book, the movie carefully avoids giving much personality to most of the innocent teens marked for slaughter, save for the few outright villains. Director Gary Ross (Pleasantville
) keeps the bloodshed to a minimum, ensuring the important PG-13 rating for the novel's young fans, as well as avoiding endorsement of the very subject under critical examination.
Unlike the Harry Potter films, with their densely populated world, and Twilight
, with its passive heroine, The Hunger Games
focuses on one courageous girl, and is a validation of teenage rebellion, resiliency and idealism. "What if nobody watches?" questions Katniss' ally Peeta. What if, indeed. Author, screenwriter and producer Suzanne Collins has made sure the film makes its points as well as satisfying its legion of fans.