The Hunger Games, a novel by Suzanne Collins, was adapted to the big screen and premiered March 23 after possibly the highest levels of anticipation since the Harry Potter franchise finale. In its first weekend, the movie brought in $155 million, putting it in third place in box office history behind the Deathly Hallows Part 2 and The Dark Knight. Even more impressively, The Hunger Games gave the highest grossing debut ever for a non-sequel, according to Entertainment Weekly.
The premise of The Hunger Games is strange enough – after a rebellion against the Capitol, the government put a competition into effect, reminding the districts of their generosity and fairness – however slanted these traits may be. Each of the twelve Districts is required to offer up two children to the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death in which there can be only one victor.
These tributes are put through days of training before being inserted into a man-made arena, in which they are forced to kill or be killed. From District 12 come Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, played by Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, respectively.
Lawrence, who dominated the role of the powerful teen, is a quiet and talented hunter forced to protect her mother and sister after the death of her father in a coal mine explosion. The other District 12 representative, Peeta (Hutcherson), is a simple baker’s son who is innocent, likable and eager to win over the vapid population of the Capitol.
Along with a sister and mother, Katniss leaves behind her close friend Gale when she leaves her district. Played by Liam Hemsworth, Gale is searching for a way to leave the prison walls of District 12, but does fade into the background of the story after Katniss leaves home. As one of the two men in Katniss’ soon-to-become-complicated life, Gale’s dark eyes and sullen disposition juxtaposed perfectly against Peeta’s optimism.
Katniss and Peeta are mentored by a previous tribute from District 12, Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), who, though perpetually drunk, gives the new tributes the courage and advice they need to make it through the Games. Harrelson’s typical eccentricity translates well onto the big screen, though hopefully in upcoming installments of the trilogy he will have a more prominent role.
Elizabeth Banks diverged from her typical serious roles (Man on a Ledge, W.) and took up the challenge of playing Effie Trinket, whose job is to prepare the tributes from District 12 for their many media appearances. Though Banks disappeared into the costuming of her character, her typical commanding personality peered through the facade.
Filmed in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina, the “arena” created by the Capitol for the purpose of the Games is vast, beautiful and technologically advanced, hinting at the wealth and glamour of the government. What is to be read into the images of the rich flaunting their status and of the poor in District 12? Is the idea of a futuristic society reliant on the idea of capitalism and a hostile class divide?
My personal theory about the underlying message of The Hunger Games is that action and suspense are really, really fun. And the director did a phenomenal job of emphasizing crucial scenes and balancing the complex themes of light and dark.
Additionally, one can only imagine that the special effects will rake in many nominations come Oscar season. The 142-minute movie stays true to the book, and an exhilarating adventure for people of all ages.
Virginia Reed is a superb writer and an even better friend. She enjoys unhealthy foods and writing sarcastic articles. Virginia is the Online Editor for the 2011-12 school year and was a Managing Editor for the 2010-11 year but has not forgotten her humble beginnings as a staff writer when she was a wee sophomore. Her goals for the future are to get an A in newspaper and to apply to college in a timely fashion.