I spent most of the beginning of The Hunger Games kind of holding my breath in hopes that the movie would live up to all the hype I put on it. I loved the books A LOT. I also put a whole heap of unjustified responsibility on it and felt that it just had to hit a certain level so that the conversations about female protagonists who are strong and active in their lives could move to a new level.
Luckily, the film fulfilled my wishes. That is not to say that it's perfect. It's too long. And I just want to warn you to please be prepared a lot of the action is filmed on a hand held camera moving really quickly.
Aside from those small things this is a really good movie. And it's also a really serious film. For those of you who don't know about the book it takes place in Panem a bit in the future after a revolution that was put down by a totalitarian regime run by a evil dictator parading as a "president." Each year the "districts" who fought against the "capitol" have to sacrifice two of their teens to compete in The Hunger Games to show that they are all under the thumb of the capitol.
We meet our heroine Katniss Everdeen played by Jennifer Lawrence on the day of the reaping when the games participants are selected trying to assure her younger sister Prim that everything will be fine. Katniss is a lot like Ree the character that Lawrence played in Winter's Bone. She's a girl who had to grow up too fast because mom is a mess and dad is no longer in the picture. So she's in charge at 16. And they are poor. And nothing has color. It's like the Wizard of Oz before she goes over the rainbow. Those early scenes are quite intense.
After Katniss volunteers to save her sister and begins her journey toward the Games we get introduced to the colors of the Capitol and boy did the production designers have fun. Everything is exaggerated and heightened. The drab district 12 is left behind and you see the vibrancy of a society who lives off the fruits of the labor of the entire rest of the culture. It is perfect for our time. It is all about how the 1%.
As Katniss gets prepped for the Games by her team which is led pitch perfectly by Lenny Kravitz as Cinna she is terrified. I can't say enough about how good Jennifer Lawrence is in the film. What works best about her is that she is everygirl. She has that look about her. She's real. In each scene you truly feel her emotions. She knows that she's going to have a tough time but also knows she needs to get back home to take care of her sister. You really want her to succeed.
And then we get to the Games. And remember these are Games where kids kill kids because that is how they will survive. Kids killing kids. It's hard to imagine but that's the reality of it. Only one out of 24 will go home. The odds suck. It's brutal. And it is in the Games that you really see what Katniss is made of. She's got the skills, the smarts, the compassion and the fortitude to make it. And that's what I love about her. I love that she's a real girl who has to constantly do things no girl should have to do. But that's her life. We love her because she is a girl superhero. And damn we so need some girl superheroes.