The Hunger Games is more than child's play

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Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Stanley Tucci. Rated PG. Opens Friday, March 23, at the Park Theatre

Think the current version of reality TV is a little much? The Hunger Games is set in a postapocalyptic future where teenagers are forced to fight to the death as a form of televised entertainment. The grand prize? The last kid standing gets to live.

In the hands of director Gary Ross, The Hunger Games is slick, creepy, and, yes, intermittently fascinating. It helps to imagine a Miss America pageant where the giddy contestants compete for the chance to slit each other’s throats.

Based on the hugely popular young-adult novel by Suzanne Collins, this is a movie with a built-in adolescent fan base. The story has everything kids like. Young love, the kind of pointy weapons you’re never allowed to play with, and lots of unsupervised time in the woods. The capper? All the grownups are either impotent weaklings or preening idiots.

This does not stop an impressive supporting cast from lining up to play the more mature characters. There’s Donald Sutherland as a laid-back, if undeniably ruthless, dictator; Stanley Tucci, hamming it up as the futuristic equivalent of a sleazy game-show host; and Lenny Kravitz as an unbelievably cool costume designer.

The core audience might recognize Kravitz from their parents’ CD collection, but they’re certainly much too young to connect the dots to an ancient movie like 1987’s The Running Man. Those of us with a little more mileage on the odometer have seen this sort of gaudy mix before.

Still, there’s one big plus here: Jennifer Lawrence is truly exceptional as the film’s heroine, Katniss Everdeen. Katniss has to use everything from her wits to her skill with a bow and arrow to ensure she survives the ultimate elimination. But it’s Lawrence who really prevails. She manages to carry a somewhat patchy movie on her shoulders. Along the way, she makes us care a lot more than we should.


Watch the trailer for The Hunger Games.

Comments (2) Add New Comment
DavidH
- Every generation of teenagers has had its own "post-apocalyptic" movie, and I think that's great. Teenagers generally don't spend much time pondering the future (beyond Friday), even though they will soon have to live there.

Who knows. Maybe they'll be able to avoid the apocalypse, thus avoiding the post-apocalypse.

- John Lekich writes: "All the grownups are either impotent weaklings or preening idiots."

Good, because that is a very close portrayal of reality. Just look to Ottawa ... the people we are relying upon to prevent the apocalypse and a post-apocalyptic future. Most MPs are "impotent weaklings", and most party leaders are "preening idiots".

As pointless as this film might be (in an intellectual sense), surely it can't be more pointless than a vampire love fest. If it makes any teenager think about something other than how hot the lead actor looks, I'm glad.
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Rating: +4
Guest
read the books and loved it, watched the first movie and enjoyed it a lot. We haven't had a true heroine (Lawrence has a lot to work with, Katniss is an amazing character in the book) and not some whimpy, whiny girl that needs a guy to protect her.
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Rating: +3
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