It tells the tale of two teens who overcome impossible odds, beat the establishment at it’s own game — and lived to tell about it.
I LOVED this movie. The casting was fantastic, as were the scenery, weaponry, scripting and costumes.
Jennifer Lawrence is the perfect Katniss Everdeen. Lawrence portrays the perfect blend of tough, sweet and determined teen. She starts by providing for her family after her father dies, going around the law to hunt game outside the bounds of her district with friend Gale, played by Liam Hemsworth. I believed the chemistry between the two friends.
Gale is a bit bitter at the world, but both are pragmatic. Before they head to see which boy and girl from District 12 will be drawn for participation in the fight-to-the-death Hunger Games, Gale notes that if people would quit watching the games, there would be no games; they would lose their power to punish.
Katniss steps up when her sister’s name is drawn as female tribute for District 12, one of 24 youth chosen to fight to the death in the annual “Hunger Games.”
Lawrence and Willow Shields, as little sister Primrose Everdeen, sold me on their bond with this heart-rendering, bittersweet scene of sacrifice and love.
Katniss promises Primrose she’ll try to win the games for her, knowing her family depends of her for survival. She also, in the parental role she’s held since her father was killed in a mining explosion, demands her mother straighten up and take care of Prim.
Gale, ever her loyal friend, promises no matter the outcome of the Hunger Games, he’ll make sure Katniss’ family doesn’t starve. He also offers encouragement, reminding her of her strength and ability.
Surprisingly, the male drawn from District 12 is Peeta Mellark, a baker’s son who once showed Katniss a kindness by throwing the starving girl bread. Josh Hutcherson is a perfect Peeta, vulnerable, yet practical; he’s resigned to the fact that he’s not the toughest kid in the fight and thus, likely won’t make it out of the Hunger Games. However, the sweet kid has both the strength of an ox and a lot of integrity. He learns quickly he must gain public favor in order to get “sponsors” who might send necessities during the game.
Peeta also does not hide the fact he’s liked Katniss since he heard her sing at school, and divulges this fact to the entire population watching the games during a pre-event interview.
At first, Katniss is angered by this revelation, then takes it as a compliment and follows former District 12 winner and mentor Haymitch Abernathy’s advice. (Woody Harrelson played Haymitch to a T.)
The girl who admittedly doesn’t make friends easily plays it up and gains public favor.
She also gains the attention of the many people “scrutinizing” their days of training with her archery skills and daring. When they ignore her from the dining area above, she shoots an apple out of a cooked boar’s mouth, earning an unheard of score of 11 going into the games.
Another pleasant surprise in this movie is Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, who dresses District 12 tributes for public appearances. He’s perfect as Cinna, who gives encouragement in just the right way. “The girl on fire” won’t soon be forgotten in Cinna’s version of costumes. (Wardrobe did a fab job here and throughout the movie). The effects that make both of Kat’s outfits and Peeta’s initial outfit appear to be on fire are brilliant. Think of the varied colors visible as one looks into the blue-white flame in a gas heater or an aurora borealis. Quite spectacular.
Peeta remains true to himself — and Katniss — at the core, taking measures to aid her during the Hunger Games so at least one of the tributes from District 12 will have a good chance of going home at the end of the games. He forms an alliance with the tough-guy bullies, the “Career” tributes, who are trained all their lives to volunteer for the games so their district might reap the rewards of plenty bestowed upon the winner’s home district.
Katniss, too, remains a protector at heart. She doesn’t outright seek out others to harm, as the Careers do and games demand. While the Careers leave a blood bath of tributes they’ve carved up from the start, Katniss and Peeta heed Haymitch’s advise and flee the supply area — although Katniss does face a tussle on the way out.
Spoiler alert: Stop here if you don’t want to know the outcome.
Katniss befriends little tribute Rue, played by Amandla Stenberg (I love Stenberg in this role). Rue helps her flee Careers, then treats her wounds for two days when she suffers from a deadly insect sting. She even snuggles her through the night, as she would Primrose.
Unfortunately, their partnership is short-lived. The Careers’ attack Rue. While Katniss manages to hit Rue’s attacker with an arrow, the tribute releases his arrow first. It makes contact with the Rue’s chest. Katniss holds the little girl as she dies, mourns the death of her new friend, acknowledges her to her district and even lays her out as if for burial. Rue’s district, including sponsors and the male tribute, won’t forget it. Rue’s district riots at her death.
To turn the public tide, the game rules are changed to allow male and female tributes from the same district to work together, and if still standing at the end, win together. To that point, only one person could be the winner, the last tribute alive.
The announcement sends Kat furiously searching for Peeta. She finds him injured near the water. She tends his sword gash in a “cave.” When it appears he’s taking a turn for the worst with fever and infection, she promises to do something to help. When he asks what, she says they’ll think of something. Katniss offers comfort to the injured young man, kisses him on the cheek, then finds a “gift” of soup for her “show” effort. She continues to foster a relationship with Peeta, working with her friend to survive.
When its announced there’ll be a “feast” the following day for items they all need, she knows she must act. Katniss risks facing the remaining tributes to get medicine for Peeta. When she gets pinned down by a Career and is almost killed, Thresh, the male tribute from Rue’s district, comes to her aid. He gives her a one-time pass for her kindness to little Rue.
Just when it seems the end is near, the pair still have to face raging dogs and best the other remaining tribute. They overcome these obstacles.
At day break, Katniss and Peeta should be named the winners, but they are told the rule is changed again. Only one tribute can go home. Bucking the rules again, the pair refuse to kill each other, opting instead to eat poisonous berries. Just as they raise them to their mouths, the announcer declares both winners. After all, the games must have a winner.
It sets things up for a great sequel. Hang on folks. This series is just getting started. And, rest assured, you got a peak into the future, as it showed some things not in the first book in Suzanne Collins’ popular series. And I think it’s going to be a great trilogy. I can’t wait. Makes me want to read the second book; I’ve been holding off so it doesn’t ruin the movie for me.
If you haven’t seen “Hunger Games,” GO.
Starplex Cinemas is still showing “Hunger Games” daily through Wednesday at 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m., 3:10 p.m., 5 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Don’t miss it!
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