Carly at the Movies: Hunger
“So what’s the big deal with The Hunger Games?” sez I to the handsome rascal in the mirror. No answer, just an admiring gaze as I finished shaving. Obviously I’d have to look into this Box Office phenomena myself; might actually have to go see the movie!
The thought made me shudder. After all, the film was based on a series of so-called Young Adult novels, and probably written for the idiots who worship “Twilight” – a bunch of young people who can’t act, wallowing around in a preposterous plot laced with teen angst and vapid vampires.
Girding my loins (and other semi-exposed body parts) I set off to the local cinemaplex, not bothering to learn anything more about the film, and dreading the worst.
Oh, me of little faith! Forgive my aged prejudicial ego!Never, in my wildest dreams, could I have imagined what happened. “The Hunger Games” is a gripping film, filled with sharp performances by actors young and old, a dystopian drama that leaves me hungry for the sequel (based on the second book of the trilogy, entitled “Catching Fire” and coming in 2013) with the further adventures of this excellent cast.
And what a cast it is! Jennifer Lawrence, Oscar-nominated star of last year’s “Winter’s Bone,” is strong and resourceful and beautiful in the lead. Josh Hutcherson, who was quite a bit more than all right in 2010’s “The Kids are All Right,” is more than admirable as first the adversary then the compatriot of our heroine.
The film has grossed over 400 millions bucks to date, which means that everyone in America had seen it before me. Well, make room for me on the band wagon, kiddo. For a change, I’m happy to ride along.
The science-fictiony plot is nothing new. In the future, the Republicans – excuse me, the “bad guys” –- have taken over everything, and as part of their bread and circuses philosophy have every “district” (blue states?) chooses a male and a female yearly to take part in the Hunger Games. Which means they get together in a big forest rigged with TV cameras, and fight to the death. The winner gets anything he or she wants. (Supposedly. We’ll see if the Bad Guys live up to their campaign promises, in the sequel.)
Of course, we’ve seen this all before in a number of movies and in countless sci-fi novels (i.e. “The Long Walk” by Stephen King). But the author of the novel trilogy, Suzanne Collins, who was helped on the screenplay by director Gary Ross, kept it fresh.
Young Australian actor Liam Hemsworth has a smaller part in this film, but looms larger in “Catching Fire.” He seems adequate, with not much to work with, so we’ll reserve judgment on him. But be on the lookout for Stanley Tucci in “Hunger Games” –- as the national TV host, he’s an absolute hoot, costumed (as most of the grownups in the future) garishly with wigs and fol-de-rol.
The only thing I’d like more of is the sociological stuff, the how-we-got-this-way, which I assume is forthcoming in “Catching Fire.”
Jennifer Lawrence is going to be a major star if she keeps choosing films like “Winter’s Bone” and this one. It’s crisp, it’s exciting, it’s fresh. Nope, it ain’t a brand new breakfast cereal. It’s “The Hunger Games”. And if you’ve somehow missed it, prepare for a feast.
Column by Carl Larsen