04 May 2013

Movie Review: "The Hunger Games"

Rated: PG-13 for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images -- all involving teens
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth
Released: March 23, 2012 (theaters) / August 18, 2012 (DVD /Blu-Ray)
Synopsis: Every year, in the ruins of what was once North America, the capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games.  Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers in her younger sister's place, and must rely on her sharp instincts when she is pitted against highly trained Tributes who have been preparing their entire lives.  If she is ever to return home to District Twelve, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity...and life against love.
(Adapted from the back cover of the double-disc DVD edition)

Plot: 4.5/5
Usually, when a best-selling novel is made into a movie, you know you're going to get a good story...and, in this case, you get a great one.  Like George Orwell's 1984, this film paints a bleak portrait of the world we are becoming.  What made it all the more striking was how the "competition" smacked of "reality" TV shows such as Survivor, Big Brother, or Jon and Kate Plus Eight.  That said, I did think it was a bit ridiculous that many of the minor characters had hairdos that made them look like Marilyn Manson or Lady Gaga; that was the only weak point in the story, though.

Production Values: 5/5
Everything in this department was impressive: the acting, the sets, and especially the special effects.  Of course, that's obvious; would it have been a high-grossing movie if it hadn't had any of that?

Moral Content: 15+
  • Positive Elements: Themes of self-sacrifice; portrayal of when entertainment goes too far.
  • Sex: One guy looks at women a bit lecherously.
  • Nudity: Off-the shoulder dresses; holes in clothes that are only used to show wounds.
  • Violence: In the competition and elsewhere, teenagers go at each other with bows and arrows, knives, and swords.  One character drops a hive of insects to the ground to fend off assailants; though it succeeds, said character also gets bitten, too.  Some of the wounds and weapons do get bloody, though the level of violence never reaches "R" territory.  A character shoots an arrow where people are gathered to get their attention, but no one is hurt.  Elsewhere, a father goes on a violent rampage when he sees his daughter get killed as part of the Games.
  • Drugs: A man is seen drinking and drunk.
  • Language: Six or seven profanities total, all d-words and h-words.
  • Frightening/Intense Scenes: The whole theme of the movie--teenagers killing other teenagers--would likely be freaky to many youngsters.  A hallucination that one character has is also quite scary, and some monsters that the Game-makers use to scare the kids are, as well.
  • Other: The makers of the game show little care about what is happening to the teenagers during the Games.
 Conclusion: After seeing this, I'm not sure if I want to watch any more reality television!  More than just an action/adventure flick, The Hunger Games is a shocking portrait of where our society might be in the future.  If you're not too young and/or sensitive to handle the violence and intensity, you should definitely see this; it's as provocative as it is unsettling!

Score: 4.5/5

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