The Hunger Games is based on the young adult trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I read all three books over during spring break while waiting for various wives and mothers in law in the hospital waiting room. I found them an engaging dystopian glimpse at an American future. The story presumes an apocalyptic thermonuclear civil war in which thirteen regions of America come to be dominated by a region located in the Rocky Mountains. As condition of the peace, each of the defeated regions participate in an annual "reaping." They are forced to hold a drawing in which they send as "tribute" a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to fight in a bloodsport to the death called the Hunger Games. The first book in the trilogy follows the story of Katniss Everdeen from Region 12 as she struggles to survive the games.
Perhaps the most important thing the movie has going for it is its faith to the book's story. It doesn't hurt that Suzanne Collins has a screenwriting credit for the film, or that the movie is well over two hours long. From the "reaping" to the presentation of the winning "tributes'" to the public, Hunger Games sticks to the story with considerable attention to detail. From the crushing poverty of Region 12 to the opulent splendor of the capital city, and the various vistas of the games themselves, the elaborate settings from the book are seen in three dimensions.
|Jennifer Lawrence is great as Katniss Everdeen.|
A few blog posters have criticized the decision to add actors of color to play some of the prominent supporting characters. Rue, a twelve year old who reminds Katniss of her young sister Prim, is played by young Amandla Sternberg, and African American actress. The story loses nothing in the telling by Sternberg's performance or her portrayal of our heroine's doomed friend. Musician Lenny Kravitz, also African American, does a fine turn as Cinna, Katniss' supportive stylist. Kravitz portrays Cinna as supportive and surreptitiously rebellious. Those who criticize diversifying the cast, surely cannot quibble with their contributions to the story, and must have other issues that require some self-examination.
|Lenny Kravitz as stylist Cinna.|
The Hunger Games is a great movie. It's one of those sci-fi spectaculars that doesn't require that you read the book, though it wouldn't hurt. With great storytelling and solid performances, it sets the stage for two more great movies to come.