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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Hunger Games by Gary Ross, 2012 (PG-13)

with Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone, Silver Linings Playbook, X-Men: First Class), Josh Hutcherson (The Virgin Suicides, The Kids are All Right) , Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson (The Messenger), Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Wes Bentley, Toby Jones, Alexander Ludwig, Isabelle Fuhrman

In a dystopian future ruled by a totalitarian regime, resourceful Katniss and her partner, Peeta, represent their district in the lethal Hunger Games -- a televised survival competition in which teenage contestants fight each other to the death.

Hunger Games was long awaited but somehow I missed the passion, so coming to watch it, I was more or less expecting a well done teenager movie. It is, but not only. I was greatly surprised by the strange esthetic that the movie carries, between a - what could be - post-wold war II France in a village, the idea of 1984 Big-Brother civilization and some Brazil reference to a decadent society, risible, ridiculous. Behind all this is a system that some people would love to maintain, brains that influence all these trends so the whole society would stay put.
So, the character of Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence, Winter's Bone) is a misfit, but at the same time, naturally embodying the values of nowadays society, free-spirit self made woman, an archetype of genuine generosity, emotional, true, getting to learn the hard way the rules of the game (the hidden one). Peeta is the anti-hero, the one everyone can identify to, an ordinary guy, with fear, low self-esteem, sometimes cowardice, but in reality, pretty normal indeed.
Between those two characters and the rest of the cast (carefully chosen obviously), it takes only a few seconds to get into this new and original atmosphere. The story hold itself together in a very smooth way and, despite the fact that this is only the beginning of a saga, it is a standalone movie, which is nice since lately, saga producers have a tendency to just want to sell more tickets by not giving you anything. So, as probably everyone, I really enjoyed this movie.

PS: They have peacekeepers too, wonder if this was an influence of Farscape or... :)

PS2 (July 28, 2012): I just read the trilogy, was curious about the differences between the book and the movie, and couldn't help reading "Catching Fire" and "Mockingjay". It was interesting to see that the books focus on the only perceptions of Katniss, what she can witness, what information reaches her, with sometimes a distorted reality that cannot be truly verified, so you have to learn to trust or distrust her, filter the information she provides you to figure the bigger picture, what is the state of Panem, this gigantic state that is replacing our current United States, what is going on in each district, what is the strategy of the Capitol, the response. Which eventually is shown a little more in the movie, giving a broader perception of the outside world. Interesting... Perhaps strategic in making you want to see the next ones. Oh, and also I kept reading the books thinking how amazingly they had chosen the cast, I could really imagine the characters the way they were in the movies, evolving into the two other books, specially Haymitch (Woody Harrelson).


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