The Hunger Games (2012) Review

From a cinematographic perspective it blasts all measurable expectations, but conceptually…it sickens. As stated Suzanne Collins futuristic fiction sets stage for a totalitarian regime Panem, within what was formerly known as the United States. One ruling government presence, overseeing twelve districts assigned to twelve areas marked specifically by exports/trades these provinces specialize in. All meant to maintain a sense of order and compliance among all citizens occupying these regions. As penance for an event referred to as the “rebellions” one girl and boy between ages of 11-18 are subjugated to an annual bloodsport event known as the Hunger Games. Wherein “tributes” from all twelve districts must fight to the death. The film opens upon a derelict rural country backdrop, depicting civilians wearing worn out-dated clothing, main roads corroded into unpaved trails of mud & dirt, virtually no signs of modern technology beyond radios and basic social structure/functionality bordering between early North American settlements, off-grid survival-ism and  minimalism.

Initially I noticed how the Everdeen’s cat strongly disliked Katniss, hissing at her viciously as if threatened. Somewhere along the grape vine I heard this small detail harkens back to the first novel and was pleasant to see the film makers included it. But additionally made me immediately question her character, call it an old wives tale but some believe animals are capable of judging the spirits of human beings and sense whether or not they are kind or evil. No I do not believe Katniss is an evil person, but am mildly unnerved by her natural ability to kill.

In Katniss’s hometown hunting game serves as a lucrative but dangerous means of revenue. Anyone slightly interested must venture beyond the district borders into the Forrest in order to achieve this, without being seen by patrols of course. Right from the beginning we witness Katniss’ precision marksmanship via bow.

Most prominent was Primrose Everdeen’s persistent dreams, foreshadowing events of herself being selected. In spite of Katniss’ endearing reassurances of the improbability of being selected, their worst fears are brought to light at the reaping. In an act of  sacrifice volunteers as a participant in place of her sister, who given her lack of skills would have been slaughtered.

Given only brief moments to say final goodbye’s to family and friends, Katniss is taken to a country commute train (strikingly similar in purpose & design as the Japanese Bullet Train [ii], albeit a highly improvised predecessor[iii]) by Effie Trinket along with Peeta Mellark, destined for The Capitol.

While Peeta seemed enamored by the fine polished glitz and glamor of his surroundings, Katniss’ reactions throughout were viscerally reflected in that of any rational human being. Other tributes treated the experience with disturbing enthusiasm or nonchalant  ambivalence. Particularly primed careers exhibited blood lust, to a point of excited frenzy, itching to murder their peers. Their mentalities were dead set on winning at all costs instead of considering alternatives. Rather than balance morality or conscience a majority resorted to wholesale murdering each other. Albeit failed to contemplate refusing to participate, making a clear statement of defiance while not being forced to submit by involuntary terms.

Truly horrific was the primary bloodbath; a heart-pulsing silence (reminiscent of soldiers on the battle field sustaining temporary deafness after being within close proximity to exploding shells),  intensifying their desperate sprinting, it was a killing ground. A perfect portrait of survival at it ugliest. Even now I cannot tear the image of Cato mercilessly murdering one tribute after another devoid of relent. Saddest of all fully aware of the fact that they were just children, which made watching it even harder.

Essential survival techniques proved invaluable while trekking  amidst the playing field. Dire to imagine was when the careers combined forces to “hunt down” their remaining competitors including Peeta Mellark. Quite shocking upon first viewing, I thought to myself “you traitor!” Especially previous to very intimate conversations.  A genuinely exciting moment was the rating assessment panel, where Katniss leaves a lasting impression on Seneca Krane by shooting an apple within inches of his head. Resulting in an astonishing 11 out of 12 rudimentary score.

My favorite character by far was Rue from district 11, partner opposite of Thresh. From her adorable stealthy trick in the training room to nursing Katniss’ tracker jacker stings, she stole my heart. Highly iconic melody’s signaling communication via the mocking jay’s, immortalized Collin’s novel “deep in the meadows” [iv] berceuse. Completely untouched by savagery, Rue represented fragile reminiscent innocence overshadowed.

Visual effects were stunning (particularly Katniss & Peeta’s magnificent flaming parade outfits created by Cinna and Katniss’ exquisite fiery red dress seen during her interview with Caesar Flickerman), the beautiful lush scenery that is the Capitol, fine furnishings, foods and textures gleaming inside the train, incredible costume design ranging from abstract oddities of grandiose to practical ensembles worn by the tributes during their training sessions and the “games” themselves,

Across the board acting was pitch perfect, however a great amount of honor must be credited to Jennifer Lawrence.  Displaying immense silent resolve in portraying a strong character, communicating mostly through non verbal cues and expressiveness. Which until now I believed was a dead art in professional actors. At times Josh Hutcherson struggled to even seem interested in his role wavering well executed moments captured on film to absent mindedness. For lack of better specification his acting was not entirely consistent, at times being spot on to off-kilter.

Favorable mention of Cato, Clove and Foxface, they were all a joy to witness on screen. Though must negate certain discrepancies regarding Clove’s novel counterpart whom was actually described as “strong, healthy, brawny and fit.” [v].  Towering at 6’2 this gorgeous blonde lumbering psychopath definitely established a malicious presence throughout the entire run-time. Alexander Ludwig certainly inspired a sense of hatred, which I consider to be the mark of great acting if an actor/actress can evoke strong emotions from their audience. Signifying true spirited adaption of their part in bringing that person to life.

For once public relations campaigning lived up to its reputation, when they said the world would be watching…they were right.

Performances: 9/10 Directing: 10/10  Script/Dialogue: 9./10  Cinematography: 10/10

Honorable mention: It was not necessarily dialogue but those moments without words which had impact. Katniss raising her hand in reverence for Rue’s death, Peeta Mellark asking her to stay with him during the night, Cinna revealing a mocking jay pin inside Katniss’ jacket before motioning in a shush. The hunger games presented a macabre scenario, but it honestly took my breath away.

[i]. Web. May 5th 2012

[ii]. Web. 5 May 2012.

[iii]. Web. 5 May 2012.

[iv]. Web. 5 May 2012.

[v]. Web. 5 May 2012.

[vi]. Web. 5 May 2012.

[vii]. Business Wire. “Sting performs “Deep in the Meadow (Lullaby)” for “the Hunger Games”: Sings from District 12 and Beyond.” Yahoo! News, Yahoo. ABC News Network. 4 May. 2012. Web. 5 May 2012.

[viii]. Web. 5 May 2012.

[ix]. Web. 5 May 2012.

[x]. TagAlongPam. “Clove.” The Hunger Games Wiki. Wikia Entertainment, 4 May 2012. Web. 5 May 2012.


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