The Hunger Games (2012)

May the odds be ever in your favor.
In the post apocalyptic future, a country named Panem rises from the ruins of what was North America. Ruled from the Capitol, the 12-districts that surrounds it provides various resources, from electricity to coals, fisheries to transportation. There were a 13th district, once upon a time, but demolished due to an act of treachery and rebellion. To reminds the citizens of Panem of their grave past and to prevent the same foolishness to re-occur, each year 2 tributes, one girl and one boy from the age of 12-18, will be randomly selected from each district to participate in a game that would be broadcasted nationwide.
When her 12 years old sister name was drawn. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) immediately volunteer herself as tribute, leaving her family and Gale (Liam Hemsworth) a boy she love behind. Along with another boy from her district Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), she must compete among the 24 tribute. There will be only one victor, and they must fight to their deaths. In a dizzying mix of nationwide broadcast of reality tv glam and the deadliness of  a war, under the watchful eyes of President Snow (Donald Sutherland), let The Hunger Games begin.
Katniss came from the 12th districts which contributes coals, their natural resources, to the capitol. Yet it is probably the district that lived in the lowest state of poverty, compared to other district, let alone to Capitol level of decadance. When they travel to the Capitol the economical gap become more obvious, a stark parallel to the current economical condition, where the 1% live by sacrificing the other 99. A parable that strikes close to my home country as well.When people of District 12 must struggle against hunger on a daily basis, everything is excessive in Capitol: the food, the wealth, the people appearances. Clashing against district 12 earthy monochrome palette, everything in Capitol is loud neons and brights. The clothing are made up by pieces with exaggerated shapes, superfluously accessorized, extreme cosmetics choices and big hair-do. Looking something that belong to a Galianno or McQueen runway show than a functional wear. Each contestant got make overs and must perform to appease the viewer’s sympathy and gain sponsorships. The lives of the 24 victors is a matter of entertainment and source of monetary bets. That lead me to question if these Capitol dwellers still have an ounce of morality in their bones.
A lot of opinion and review compared the nature of the story to Battle Royale, a cult favorite film adapted from a novel of the same name. I read the book and watched the film, so let me just tell you how incomparable the two are. Personally i found the book to be more complex, and it is not because there are about 20+ characters that the book explored. But the spirit of the book and the film felt very different for me. Although featured the same process of elimination where youths must fights each other to the deaths, as well as a political propaganda from governments. But Hunger Games showcase the desensitization of people. Not an extreme exaggeration to what we are already doing now. Where reality TV only got interesting when tragedy or fights strikes, when violence become an art form, where an act of evil is praised as a form of dark comedy. Aren’t we a twisted bunch?
Gary Ross’ direction and script is the main factor of why i love this film so much. I haven’t read the book prior to the film and found the story is easy enough to follow. The film did not dwell too much on the young-adult romance part nor the violence of the game. Instead, it put a lot more emphasis on the politic and the socio-cultural aspect of the Capitol. As much as heartwrenching Rue’s death were, for me the part when the victor’s first arrive at the Cornucopia is what leave a lasting impression in my mind. The choice of handheld-cam and the silence, inspire tension and fear, like when you were running out of fear and all you can hear is your own heartbeat in your ear. It made that particular scene felt like an actual documentary of the event. I also like that even though the nature of the film is so violent, there’s not a lot of gore in the film. Costume designer Judianna Makovsky put the vision of Capitol decadence through the fashion of Capitol dwellers. While i am not particularly impressed with that enflamed red trash-bag Katniss wore, she dressed Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) with such an iconic look. The cast of course is excellent, Jennifer Lawrence is a great Katniss Everdeen, brought a lot of maturity to the character. Although Liam Hemsworth is forgettable, Josh Hutcherson is a surprise as a very charming love interests of Katniss. Elizabeth Banks and Stanley Tucci showcased their flair and theatricality. Donald Sutherland as the main antagonist of the franchise give a chilling indifference as President Snow, hinting just how much of an evil he was behind that facade of middle-aged man who has a penchant for rose gardening.
I was dragged to the film reluctantly by my sister, expecting a brainless tween film, like yet another of Twilight (which i could not believe Lawrence do). So i guess what i witness in Hunger Games was mind-blowing and overall a great start to strong franchise. I read the book right after i watched the first film and i have to say i like all Gary Ross decision with this film, there’s nothing i would want to add or remove. It was well casted, well directed, all-around great film for a YA Adaptation. It set the franchise with a very strong start and a very clear direction. I know i will be watching for what will come…


GENRE Science Fiction, Thriller, Adventure
DIRECTOR Gary Ross | PRODUCER Nina Jacobson, Jon Kilik | WRITER Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, Billy Ray | MUSIC James Newton Howard  | CINEMATOGRAPHER Tom Stern | PRODUCTION DESIGN Phillip Messina  | COSTUME DESIGN Judianna Makovsky | EDITOR Stephen Mirrione, Juliette Welfling | STUDIO Color Force | DISTRIBUTOR Lionsgate | COUNTRY United States | BUDGET $78 million | RUNNING TIME 142 minutes | RATING PG-13 for intense sequences of violent thematic materials and disturbing images – all including teens | RELEASE March 23, 2012(US)
STARRING Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci, Lenny Kravitz, Willow Shields, Wes Bentley, Leven Rambin, Toby Jones, Alexander Ludwig, Amandla Stenberg, Jack Quaid, Dayo Okeniyi, Jacqueline Emerson

IMDb | Trailer 


DID YOU KNOW? Steven Soderbergh serve as the film’s second unit director. He shot much of the District 11 riot scenes.


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