Veteran Film Review – The Hunger Games

I saw The Hunger Games last weekend and really liked it. I didn’t know anything about the books but I’m a fan of hype and spectacle, so I was naturally sucked into this. I’m not sure that this film really fits into the intent of this blog (Soldiering, writ large) but I liked the movie so much and have a few things I’d like to share that I’ll try to fit it in here somehow.

First, I can’t tell if the movie is kid friendly or not. It is rated PG-13, but there is something more disturbing about kids hacking up other kids than the usual PG-13 fare. While the violence in this movie might be comparable to any other PG-13, it just seems worst – and creepier – when it is done by children to other children. The filmmaking is partly to blame for this. There is significant drama and build up to the part where the kids enter the ‘arena.’ I felt the fear and anxiety.

The adult part of me thinks that this was probably too violent and too heavy a subject for kids. Then, I try to think about what I would think about the movie when I was a kid. I’m sure I would roll my eyes at any adult telling me that I can’t handle a movie like that. And I could only imagine that kids today see a whole lot worse way before they get in the theater. I think it’s more a matter of my own sensitivities becoming more – sensitive – than anything kids are experiencing. Kids are tough.

Second, the film appealed to me for a couple of reasons, albeit, after the fact – I didn’t know much about the movie before walking into the theater. I love post-apocalyptic scenarios. It speaks to the general anxiety about where we are (as a society) and where we are going. This, coupled with the voyeur, reality television super-celebrity of seemingly ordinary people made it feel incredibly relevant. Add to this the individual struggles that each of the contestants faced and the moral and ethical dilemmas strewn throughout, and it has me hooked.

Stranger still, are the reactions I felt to some of the scenes. Even though I was repulsed by the idea of kids being forced into this impossible situation of having to fight for their own survival for the entertainment of others, I couldn’t help feeling that the main character (Katniss) should have killed each contestant whenever the opportunity arose – even in the climatic scene (I won’t spoil it). I liked the character, and wanted her to win and survive, even though it meant doing something I didn’t like.

Then, I was bothered by the fact that winning didn’t even constitute winning, since by being forced to play the game in the first place, the contestants already lost.

The other thing that intrigued me about this movie was the hyper-reality celebrity culture that promoted The Hunger Games. It was a mix of Live From The Red Carpet (the entrance of the Tributes), the reunion show of any Housewives series, and American Idol – with pedestal mines and blades. The character Caesar Flickerman (brilliantly casted – Stanley Tucci) is a mix of Ryan Seacrest, Andy Cohen and Harvey Levin – the ultimate reality show announcer/provocateur!

This really isn’t much of a review, just some ramblings about the movie. I’m a fan of things that get me thinking, and this did it. I liked it so much I’m about to start reading the books.

Lastly, here’s a link to an interesting article about some people’s reactions towards the races of some of the characters.

And may the odds be ever in your favor.

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