Deliberately chose not to experience the book but could not resist delving into the film; the seismic popularity surpassing all expectations. Jennifer Lawrence, as “Katniss Everdeen” is riveting and perfectly cast as the tough, savvy sixteen-year-old heroine; encapsulating the attributes of the mythical Diana, goddess of the hunt.
Suzanne Collins’s book has become a Bible for young adults, especially girls, but the eerie, numbing premise I found profoundly disturbing; a futuristic, “Alice in Wonderland” universe where there is a yearly contest comprised of two contestants (boy/girl) from twelve districts; 24 children who are “reaped” , lottery style, from their starved villages, placed in a manipulated environment where only one will emerge victorious. Children killing children, “Lord of the Flies” on steroids.
Ms. Collins’s main inspiration is the mythological tale of “Theseus and the Minatour” (monster with the head of a bull and body of a man); the King of Athens, every nine years sends to the King of Crete (to appease his lust for war), seven Athenian boys and girls to be fed to the Minatour; Prince Theseus of Athens puts and end to this horrific travesty.
If you view “The Hunger Games” as a gruesome fairy tale (historically we’ve had some “Grimm” ones, “Hansel and Gretel”) is is easier to digest, even contemplate. The Orwellian overtones: the “Tributes” reminiscent of reality shows are under constant surveillance; controlled, exploited by a technologically sophisticated command center and watched by the masses; sickening acceptance of the sport by the populace. Survival rests not only with the fittest but the most cunning.
Stanley Tucci as the mad -hatter talk show host, “Caesar Flickerman” is humorously grotesque as he interviews the 24 death disciples. Lawrence has her best and most beautiful moments during these scenes. The freakishly, cartoonish, costumed and made- up cast include: Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, a recognizable Donald Sutherland as the stoic “President” of the Metropolis; missing was Johnny Depp who has to be mourning (along with Helena Bonham Carter) his exclusion.
The killing is handled sensitively; rooting for the star-crossed lovers (Katniss and “Peeta” Josh Hutcherson)) from District 12; with the exception of a lovely sprite- like contestant our empathetic genes are not provoked.
A fear that youth will be anesthetized, immune to violence; a game that should be locked in the imagination, never to be actualized, a hunger, never to be gratified.
TWO & 1/2 STARS!!