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Hunger Games, The (2012)
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
For intense violent thematic material and disturbing images - all involving teens
Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Wes Bentley, Elizabeth Banks
Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins
Hunger Games, The (2012)
Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the evil Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games.
Hunger Games, The (2012) | Review
Sacrifice, Love, and Hope
In 2008, author Suzanne Collins followed up her mildly successful Underland Chronicles by putting out the first book in the trilogy, in what would become one of the bestselling books of the year. Finally, the Twilight series had been surpassed in the "young adult" reading category, and young and old were curious to dive into a futuristic world, where teens are forced to fight to the death in an annually televised event.
Collins had been inspired to write the books after flipping through the channels of her TV late one night, and noticing the vague similarities in how footage of the Iraq invasion melded with those of reality TV. From that was born the idea of the gladiatorial-style "Games" that would remind our broken and poverty-stricken North America (now called Panem) that the Capitol had all the power.
It was only a matter of time before the movie was made, and the job of translating the story to the screen was given to the very capable hands of director Gary Ross (Seabiscuit, Pleasantville). He was also tasked with trying to make the film true to the novel, but unique enough to stand on its own, and not fall into the trap that the first two Harry Potter films did. Jennifer Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen, the sixteen year-old who stands in when her little sister is chosen for the Games, and Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, the baker's son, who is also chosen as a "tribute" for the Games, and whose love for Katniss spurs him on to survive. The film also includes actors Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, and Donald Sutherland, all rounding out an excellent cast.
The Hunger Games has already been examined thematically, way beyond what I could bring to the table, but there were many things that stood out after a second viewing of the film that particularly mirrored Biblical values and traits in my mind. People have already analyzed whether Katniss or Peeta is the more Christ-like figure in the story, but it definitely doesn't have to be just one. Sacrifice is shown in such a touching and beautiful way when Katniss steps in for Primrose as a substitutionary atonement, her life for her sister's. She does not hesitate for an instant, but immediately rushes to do her duty without any remorse or second thought.
Peeta has also been shown to be a sacrificing character in the story, as his love for Katniss propels him to do everything in his power to protect her, including being stabbed, put "in the ground," and then resurrected, in a sense. He knows that only one person can survive the Games, and is willing on every level to make Katniss be the one who lives.
Beyond the obvious Love and Sacrifice shown in the film, Hope is another theme that runs strong throughout. The Capitol president, Snow, knows this and recognizes that "it is the only thing stronger than fear." Much like in The Dark Knight Rises, where Bane attempts to manipulate the people to his will by giving them just enough hope to still be able to despair, it is that same hope of survival and promise of a better world, that keep the heroes in both stories fighting for what they believe is right.
The Blu-ray edition of the film comes stacked with bonus content, and the second BD in the package is nothing but special features. Most prominent is a two-hour behind the scenes look called "The World is Watching: Making The Hunger Games," which spans every aspect of the production of the film in an eight part documentary. Topics include adapting the novel, training the character for the games, and how they decided to show the violence tastefully onscreen.
Also on the second disc, we get to see a lot of material that furthers the backstory, and fleshes out the characters a bit more, to let the viewer see more of what was trimmed out of the book, in order to make the transition to the big screen. Mini-featurettes like "Game Maker" show a more in depth look at Suzanne Collins and her inspirations for the story, and "Controlling the Games" gives us a peek at the "Big Brother" filming style used in the movie, as it was described in the book to show it through more of a first-person perspective.
Catching Fire, the second book in the Hunger Games trilogy (which will actually be four movies) is in pre-production now, and will be coming to theaters in November of 2013.
Copyright © 2012 Hollywood Jesus. All rights reserved.
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