Sunday, March 25, 2012

Review: The Hunger Games (2012)

 The Hunger Games (2012) is a young adult science fiction film adaption of the popular book trilogy by Suzanne Collins. In the future, years of drought, fire, famine and war weakened the political stability of North America. A new nation, Panem, emerges with the Capitol and 12 outlying districts. While the people of the Capitol live in comfortable opulence, those who reside in the districts live in inconceivable, impoverished conditions.

Each year, two young representatives between the ages of 12 and 18 from each outlying district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Although seen as part entertainment and part intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcast throughout Panem. The 24 participants must kill--thus eliminate--their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch.

When 16-year-old Katniss' younger sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district's female representative, Katniss inadvertently volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, son of a baker family, are escorted to the Capitol where they must face stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives. Can Katniss and Peeta survive the brutal 74th Hunger Games, or will they perish like hundreds of previous young souls in he wilderness?

I have heard of the books, but I had never expressed interest because the material contained little supernatural. When the film finally came out, my friends highly recommended that I should see it in movie theaters. I did not research the plot to see whether it was really good as the critics said. I enjoyed it so much that it exceeded my expectations. Collins even adapted and co-produced the plot for the movie screen. Thus, I had to write this review.

The Hunger Games is an example of dystopia, a type of science fiction that focuses on poverty, squalor, or oppression within a futuristic society. Most authors of dystopian fiction explore at least one reason why things are that way. Although Collins does not explain in detail why certain districts in Panem suffer poverty and injustice, I heard that these details are revealed later in the triology, including the history of the rebellion. I cannot wait to learn the social oppression themes in future film sequels. For more information about the districts, this graphic illustrates the different economic sectors within Panem.

Although there is romance in the story, Collins de-emphasizes this aspect by focusing the the film script on the thrilling action sequences, bringing in more male audiences to watch the story of a brave female protagonist who not only defiles the status quo but can also possibly change history. It is also one of the few 2.5-hour (!) films in my lifetime that has never bored me. That definitely a huge compliment. I also believe this film could be the heir to the popular teen Twilight series.

A sequel will be released in theaters on November 22, 2013.

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