Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Hunger Games (2012)

Director: Gary Ross (1)

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence (2), Josh Hutcherson (3), Liam Hemsworth (4), Woody Harrelson (5), Elizabeth Banks (6), Stanley Tucci (7), and Donald Sutherland (8)

My favourite quotes – Okay, listen to me, you're stronger than they are. You are. They just want a good show, that's all they want. You know how to hunt. Show them how good you are. and Hope, it is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective; a lot of hope is dangerous. A spark is fine, as long as it's contained.”

Did you know? - The film is an adaptation of the book of the same name written by Suzanne Collins. The author has stated that the inspiration for The Hunger Games came from channel surfing on television. On one channel she observed people competing on a reality show and on another she saw footage of the invasion of Iraq. The two "began to blur in this very unsettling way" and the idea for the book was formed. The Greek myth of Theseus served as a major basis for the story, with Collins describing Katniss as a futuristic Theseus, and Roman glasiatorial games provided the framework.

When I first watched this film, I felt so angry and sad for the tributes of The Hunger Games. Considering that the Paralympics is coming up soon in London and the Olympic Games just passed, watching this film creates a strange juxtaposition in my mind. During the times of the ancient Olympic Games, athletes would be allowed to safely travel to and from the games under the Olympic Truce. And people competed in games to prove their country's prowess instead of killing each other in war. And yet, in The Hunger Games, children are sent to a fight to the death to remind each district of the suffering and loss of war!??!! What a load of BS! The world of Panem is definitely a dystopian one thats for sure! The Hunger Games is a punishment and a show of dominance over the districts, plain and simple. 

Reality TV. I work in the entertainment industry, so this television format is something I am accustomed to. Then why is it that I feel disgusted by the audience that enjoy such sport in the Capitol? Granted I don't work in an industry that encourages children killing other children in a gladiator-like arena, but still, aren't we all a society that enjoys watching others embarrass themselves on television?

Gale Hawthorne: What if they did? Just one year. What if everyone just stopped watching?
Katniss Everdeen: They won't, Gale.
Gale Hawthorne: What if they did? What if we did?
Katniss Everdeen: Won't happen.
Gale Hawthorne: Root for your favorite, cry when they get killed. It's sick.
Katniss Everdeen: Gale.
Gale Hawthorne: No one watches and they don't have a game. It's as simple as that... what?
Katniss Everdeen: Nothing.
Gale Hawthorne: Fine. Laugh at me.
Katniss Everdeen: I'm not laughing at you!

When I was studying in Australia, Big Brother is a hugely popular reality television show where the last one standing in the Big Brother house would win cash prize and other prizes like a car. In Big Brother, the audience vote people out and keep people in. In The Hunger Games, the audience sponsor individuals when they feel the inclinations to based on how they fare in the games itself. And when the game master speaks to the tributes through the intercom in a God-like manner, it reminds me of big brother's voice in the reality television program Big Brother. The most embarrassing thing is, I actually loved watching Big Brother. I loved watching it because I enjoyed trying to understand or predict the social behaviours of the public in relation to the actions and words of the contestants on the show. I also enjoyed watching the backstabbing, the bitching, the romances, and the games on the show. 

Think about Survivor, short of killing each other, the setting of the Hunger Games is eerily close to those of the hugely popular reality television show Survivor. In Survivor, the participants vote to eliminate another, sometimes the decision is based on strategy, sometimes based on personal preference. Sometimes even within a group, alliances are made and broken. Besides a matter of life and death, is there a difference between Survivor and The Hunger Games? Not much difference once again. 

Kill or be killed. It's really easy to say that. We also often hear the phrase, "Hey, its a dog eat dog world" being used. But when push comes to shove and if the time ever came when you have to seriously consider the possibility of killing someone else to survive would you be able to do it? War is that isn't it? War forces an otherwise normal person to kill another human being in order to survive. I hope I never had to witness a society where killing another human being becomes a sport or a necessity. 

The Hunger Games is a film that affects me greatly because it is portrayed as a reality television show. I can imagine myself in the shoes of the game makers, messing with the fates of those inside the arena. And it upsets me. But, it is because I can get behind the minds of the game makers that I can understand the film on a different level. The need to give the audience a good show. That is why the quote "Okay, listen to me, you're stronger than they are. You are. They just want a good show, that's all they want. You know how to hunt. Show them how good you are. and the dialogue above affects me the most in the entire film. 

To be honest, this film has a lot it wants to say, and it says it well. Besides being an extreme outlook on the world of entertainment and the nature of the audience, it also talks about politics and morality. Will you kill another to save your own? Will you kill for sport? The question doesn't just ask if you can kill another, but will you kill another if it meant your own survival? In times of war, one doesn't have a choice, so you are forced to kill to stay alive. However, the innocent victims of war isn't always just confined to the soldiers. The women and children caught in the crossfire and the children of Panem are the ones who have to pay the ultimate prize. 

Needless to say, this film affected me greatly in more ways than one. Poverty, morality, politicking, values of entertainment and in the entertainment business, these are the themes in the movie that made me stop to think and question myself about my own stand. 

But let's stay on point in regards to the film. The actors did a really good job in the film. I was very very impressed by Elizabeth Banks, although the costume and make up helped transform her and made her unrecognizable to me as Elizabeth Banks, it was her performance that floored me. 

Of the three young leads in the film, while I think Jennifer Lawrence did a fantastic job in the film, it is actually Josh Hutcherson's performance that impressed me most. Perhaps it was his role that allowed him to showcase a range of emotions but regardless, I felt he did a really good job. I have been watching him grow up through his films like Zathura, Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant and The Kids Are Alright and looking at his body of work at his age, I think he's doing a pretty darn amazing job. Jennifer Lawrence also did a great job as Katniss and I'm anxiously waiting to see more of her on screen. In my books, I guess she lost out to Josh Hutcherson only because I've seen his improvement over the years and have more to compare with. Or maybe it's just that I was already very impressed with her performance in X-Men: First Class that I expected more from her. Liam Hemsworth didn't have much to work with in this film, but I've got my eye on him and think he's got great potential to deliver great work. 

In all, while The Hunger Games made me upset, mostly because of its serious and depressing themes, it is a film I would watch over and over again. 

(1) Gary Ross has directed films like Pleasantville (1998), Seabiscuit (2003), and The Tale of Despereaux (2008). He was also the writer of the films Big (1988) and Lassie (1994).

(2) Jennifer Lawrence has acted in films like Winter's Bone (2010), Like Crazy (2011), and X-Men: First Class (2011).

(3) Josh Hutcherson has acted in films like Little Manhattan (2005), Zathura: A Space Adventure (2005), Bridge To Terabithia (2007), Journey To The Centre Of The Earth (2008), Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant (2009), The Kids Are Alright (2010), Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012) and Red Dawn (2012). 

(4) Liam Hemsworth has acted in films like The Last Song (2010), Love And Honor (2012),  and The Expendables 2 (2012), Empire State (2013), Paranoia (2013) and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013).

(5) Woody Harrelson has acted in films like Mother Goose Rock 'n' Rhyme (1990), Indecent Proposal (1993), Natural Born Killers (1994), The Thin Red Line (1998), Anger Management (2003), North Country (2005), No Country For Old Men (2007), Seven Pounds (2008), The Messenger (2009), Zombieland (2009), 2012 (2009), and Friends With Benefits (2011).

(6) Elizabeth Banks has acted in films like Spider-Man (2002), Catch Me If You Can (2002), Daredevil (2003), Seabiscuit (2003), Spider-Man 2 (2004), The Sisters (2005), The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), Spider-Man 3 (2007), Definitely, Maybe (2008), Zack And Miri Make A Porno (2008), W. (2008), Man On A Ledge (2012), What To Expect When You're Expecting (2012), People Like Us (2012), Pitch Perfect (2012), Movie 43 (2013), The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013), and The Lego Movie (2014). She has also acted as Dr. Kim Briggs in the television series Scrubs and as Avery Jessup in 30 Rock. She has also guest starred in television series like Sex & The City, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Without A Trace, and Modern Family.

(7) Stanley Tucci has acted in films like Beethoven (1992), The Pelican Brief (1993), A Life Less Ordinary (1997), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999), America's Sweethearts (2001), Road To Perdition (2002), Maid In Manhattan (2002), The Core (2003), The Terminal (2004), Shall We Dance? (2004), Lucky Number Slevin (2006), The Devil Wears Prada (2006),  Julie & Julia (2009), The Lovely Bones (2009), Easy A (2010), Burlesque (2010), Margin Call (2010), Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), Gambit (2012), and Percy Jackson: Sea Monsters (2013). He has also voiced the character of Herb Copperbottom in the animation Robots (2005) and Boldo in the animation film The Tale of Despereaux (2008).

(8) Donald Sutherland has acted in films like Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978), Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1992), Six Degrees Of Separation (1993), Outbreak (1995),  The Italian Job (2003),  Cold Mountain (2003), Pride And Prejudice (2005), Fool's Gold (2008), The Eagle (2011), Horrible Bosses (2011), and Moby Dick (2011). 

The Eclectic Reviewer thinks… The Hunger Games hits close to home because I can relate to the "gods that be" who control the fates of the tributes. But it is a great film with much to say about society today. Look closely at the subtext in the film. How it relates to our lives today. Because we can so easily connect with its themes and the various individuals portrayed in the film, it makes the film so very real. You will find that there are so many things that we take for granted today and that makes me ashamed. And that is disconcerting. But it will remind me of what I have and to be grateful for them. (4.2 of 5)

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