This is going to be a very good year for movies. In 2012 we will see Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus,” Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom,” Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained,” and, of course, “The Hobbit” and “The Dark Knight.” However, the first greatly anticipated film of the year opened this past weekend: “The Hunger Games,” which broke all sorts of weirdly specific box office records.
As mentioned previously, “The Hunger Games” is based on the young adult novel by Suzette Collins and is set in a future 74 years after “The Uprising” (which is never completely explained, but seems to be some sort of civil war). As penance (and as a way “to help us heal”), every year each of the 12 districts of Panem randomly selects a teenage boy and girl to participate in the Hunger Games, a twisted national television spectacle wherein each of the participants (callously referred to as “Tributes”) attempt to stay alive, for it is a fight to the death, and only one victor may emerge.
I must say that at best, I was expecting an entertaining, though unoriginal, film. These teen-book-turned-film crazes have not always gone so well, so my standards weren’t high, but I figured that if the acting was ok and the script wasn’t too terrible, it might make for fun watching.
First off: the cinematography immediately grabs the attention of the viewer. District 12, wherein our heroine resides, is a coal-mining region, and the setting is appropriately drab. Shaky-cam captures quick snapshots of life in this district – a bit dizzying at times, but effective. It is in this setting we first meet Katniss Everdeen, who eventually volunteers as Tribute at “The Reaping” (the yearly selection ceremony for the Hunger Games) in order to spare her young sister from almost certain death after she is selected.
Katniss is played by Louisville’s very own Jennifer Lawrence, who has previously shown her acting skills in the fantastic “Winter’s Bone.” Lawrence was interesting to watch in her role in this film; while her performance wasn’t exactly mind-blowing, it was certainly effective, and at times she shone through in subtle ways, such as with perfectly timed facial expressions (an example: when being interviewed prior to the Games, she is asked what the last thing was that she said to her sister, and Lawrence’s face registers a curious expression of pain at the memory, annoyance at being asked to publicly share such a private moment, and resignation that she has to cater to the media circus if she is to receive outside help while in the Game).