While on the way to see The Hunger Games I was listening to Miklos Rozsa’s incredible Oscar-winning score for Ben Hur. I had not read any of the books. THG is based on and generally ignored the previews for the film. The last theme on the CD player before I switched it off and entered the theater was the superb “Parade of the Charioteers” which precedes one of the cinema’s greatest film sequences. THG creates that scene in a high tech way in the first half of the film. Coincidence?
THG is about a post apocalyptic future wherein everyone in America resides in one of 12 districts. They are the poor. The rich live in a single city which looks like Oz. The poor all work in coal mines and have nothing. Their clothes are bland, all appearing to come out of the Ma and Pa Kettle series. The rich people all dress in more colorful garb. Their clothes look like designs out of a Lady GaGa dream. I believe several of the outfits were recycled from one of the most recent road show concerts of Bette Midler.
The 12 districts have, at some time over 75 years, rebelled. There was a big fight. Huge explosions occurred. The eclectically dressed rich won and the farmers lost. The rich got richer and the best the poor could ever hope for was to become successful pig farmers. The Big Brother government decides to punish the pig farmers. Once a year they have a big contest in which each of the districts sends 2 participants chosen by drawing. They must be between 12 and 18 years old. They must be ready to fight to the death. Since iPods no longer exist for them, they don’t have much to live for anyway.
The heroine and another strapping lad from district 12 are sent to do battle. She is a survivalist and loves the woods. She shoots a bow and arrow better than Robin Hood. He is strong and can lift up and throw around school buses.
What follows is an hour of set up followed by a second hour of reality TV and Gladiator. The participants must fight to the death and only one can survive. Guess who wins? The heroine is smart and wily. She carries a Rambo-style knife. She knows when to climb a tree and when to run. Lots of blood letting and screaming ensue.
Stanley Tucci plays the TV host of the show. Donald Sutherland is the President of Oz and ruler of the Districts. The film is obviously set for many sequels which can be seen coming like the large truck loads of money set to start unloading cash at the studio starting the Monday morning after the premiere. The trucks will be making lots of trips. The studio will be making lots of sequels.
While the film has a few original ideas, it borrows freely from other films of its type. These include THX 1138, Logan’s Run, Rambo II, 1984 and Woody Allen’s hilarious Sleeper. The heroine played by Jennifer Lawrence is extremely appealing and human. She is also lethal and resilient. Woody Harrelson turns up as an advisor to the Games participants. At first he looks and acts like a direct descendent of the criminally psychotic hillbillies in Deliverance then turns more benevolent and wise as the story progresses.
The Hunger Games was shot in North Carolina. Deliverance was filmed in South Carolina and Georgia. Coincidence?
Rated 3.0 out of 4.0 Truman Shows. You’ll see why when you go. EXTRA CAUTION The primary subject of this movie is a competition in which 12 to 18 year olds are forced to kill each other using violent means for their own survival. The death of children is graphically portrayed on screen.