The Hunger Games, based on the bestselling series of young adult novels by Suzanne Collins, made grown-ups I saw sniffle, gasp, and sneer. Set in a futuristic Capitol nation where the fashion is 80’s aerobic meets Marie Antoinette, the film follows the story of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), a girl locked in the ultimate unjust legal system. The Capitol is divided into 12 districts, from which a boy and girl are chosen each year to participate in a televised battle royale, “The Hunger Games,” in remembrance of a historical citizen rebellion. The challenge itself is set up in the way of a murderous American Idol, complete with a blue-haired, but just as aggravating, version of Ryan Seacrest (Stanley Tucci). After sacrificing herself for her sister’s life, Katniss becomes the first volunteer in history.
The Hunger Games is ultimately a story of power, exploring how we get and use it. It presents a world where goo has the power to heal wounds overnight, and a heedless public has the power to decide if and when to distribute it. Is it ever okay to play with life and death? This dystopian future holds a mirror to the most disgusting aspects of human nature, as we watch characters kill like animals, die like animals, all for the sake of entertainment.
The movie itself is greatly entertaining, offering a range of – sometimes heavy-handed – emotion. In stark contrast to some other novel-based film heroines, Katniss Everdeen is a strong, admirable, compassionate female character, capable of surviving independently. While it does rely on poor graphics for aspects of its realization, the hand-on-hand action allows for a generous serving of forgiveness. Even the presence of some 80’s wolf-monsters can’t distract from the real emotional dilemmas presented. An effective rendition of a beloved literary work, The Hunger Games both serves as surface-level entertainment and a thought-provoking semblance of human nature at its most detestable.