THE HUNGER GAMES
MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5)
Jennifer Lawrence as KATNISS EVERDEEN
Josh Hutcherson as PEETA MELLARK
Elizabeth Banks as EFFIE TRINKET
Wes Bentley as SENECA CRANE
Stanley Tucci as CAESAR FLICKERMAN
Liam Hemsworth as GALE HAWTHORNE
Woody Harrelson as HAYMITCH ABERNATHY
Donald Sutherland as PRESIDENT SNOW
Directed by: Gary Ross
BY KEVIN CARR
This past spring, “The Hunger Games” took movie audiences by storm, raking in more than $400 million domestically and appointing the next teen book series (after “Harry Potter” and “Twilight”) to become a mega-franchise.
While I’ve blown hot and cold on these teen book adaptations, liking the “Harry Potter” series quite a bit but really getting run down with “Twilight,” I have to say that I did enjoy “The Hunger Games” a lot. It’s best seen outside of all the hype (and the subsequent anticipation for later books, which from that buzz, feels like it might lean more towards “Twilight” than “Harry Potter”). Taken in a vacuum, “The Hunger Games” is a nice piece of speculative fiction.
Sure, it’s ripping off the premise of “Battle Royale” almost at a legally actionable level, but it approaches the story itself with a more traditional western feel. It features a strong heroine, and it deals with some pretty heavy issues of economic oppression, violence in the media and political hypocrisy.
Still, what always intrigued me most about “The Hunger Games” isn’t necessarily the journey of Katniss as she tries to beat the system, but rather the skewering of the bloodthirsty media. Similar to “Death Race 2000” from Paul Bartel and Roger Corman, “The Hunger Games” examines the media’s fascination with bloody violence and vicarious emotion when there’s nothing at stake for the viewer and interviewer. Here’s where the movie excels beyond the expectations of it being more than a simply “Battle Royale” rip-off.
If you haven’t seen “The Hunger Games” (and unless you’ve been living in a cave with a feral family from a 70s horror film, you probably have), it’s worth checking out.
The two-disc Blu-ray includes the feature film plus Digital Copy and Ultraviolet. The second disc includes plenty of special features, including a spotlight on author Suzanne Collins, a “Making of The Hunger Games” featurette, a marketing archive, plus the featurettes “Letters from the Rose Garden,” “Controlling the Game,” “A Conversation with Gary Ross and Elvis Mitchell,” “Preparing for the Games: A Director’s Process” and a propaganda film from Panem.