There can be a whole lot of pressure on movie makers when a gigantic book comes to the big screen. This week, it's The Hunger Games.
The much anticipated, sure to be huge thriller for young readers and viewers is here and overall is a pretty good movie. In case you are late to The Hunger Games table here goes. It's the story of a post-apocalyptic North America. Now the continent has been broken down into 12 Districts, and is ruled by a "Capital" that is in the Rocky Mountain Region. Every year, they have a selection of one young man, and one young woman (teens) from each District and they compete in a sick game, competition made for TV called The Hunger Games. What it is, is a fight to the death for 23 of the 24 participants that everyone watches.
But the game is rigged, and booby-trapped along the way by the "government." They change the rules at leisure, and try to influence the outcome. This story showcases the two from District 12, which is a coal mining, blue collar district. Can they survive, and who will be the eventual winner of the 74th annual Hunger Games? This is so much more complicated, but for this article, this is the basic premise.
This movie has the look and feel of a few things. It is part TVs Survivor, part reality show, and a whole lot of The Running Man story from Stephen King from the early 1980's. That story although taking a slightly different path, does get to the same thing. Basically, an involuntary game show made for TV show that features people participating to the death. Only this time, it's teens. Plus, our teens here use very primitive weapons to fight with and kill each other. Looking at it from a good distance, it's very hard not to think that this is a borderline rip-off in its basic story. But it's here and that's not the movies fault. The story has been written in book form, and we have to get past it.
Some very good decisions were made in bringing this to life at the movies. Although the story is essentially violent, it is handled well. About as well as it could be. They have some understanding that the public would have tough time digesting teens and younger killing each other in the most graphic sense. There is violence, none I would consider overly graphic. Much is implied. Also, the rumors that this was 4 hours is wrong, checking in at about 2:10.
Kudos to the elaborate sets both real and animated. Very interesting costuming, and nice job too on the not relying on over the top special effects. Truth be told, there are not a lot of really huge effects at all. They let the characters tell the story, and that's well done. And be rest assured, there are going to be more of these as there are more books to be told. But even if you didn't know there were books, the movie makes it clear this story will continue.
The Hunger Games. Will be a huge winner with it's fans. Overall, pretty well done.