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The Hunger Games – best movie of 2012

Paul Peterson

I saw the best film of 2012 last night. The Hunger Games is a great movie for a lot of different reasons but before I get into that I need to clarify something.
This is not the new Twilight series. It has nothing in common with that successful but vapid series. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait for Breaking Dawn Part 2 to come out. Ka-ching. The rise of Bella. All those little werewolf wannabes and of course their demon child going Stewie on his mom and trying to kill her. Who cares about that, I just want the box office.
There are no vampires in The Hunger Games although there are some pretty nasty wolf/dogs sent in to make the games more interesting. There’s no pouty guy expressing his lusty angst. No hand wringing. There’s no time.
The Hunger Games is a post apocalypse celebration of decadence and mayhem. Something very bad has happened to North America.
It’s now made up of The Capital and then 12 outlying districts.
The further you live from the capital the less you have. Food energy, hope.
There are a lot of guards and while the film likes its dystopia in the background we get the sense of an omnipotent, uncaring tyranny that celebrates itself by killing off 23 of its brightest lights. Each district offers 2 Tributes at The Reaping. A tribute is a nice word for human sacrifice and The Reaping is a Let’s Watch Survivor Party on crack and megasteroids.
Our story so far. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is a powerful young woman who is deadly with a bow and arrow and responsible for her kid sister since dad died and mom went walking catatonic. Food is at a premium and Katniss hunts everything and begs and borrows whatever it takes to keep Prim fed.
She also looks after Prim’s emotional needs and when Prim is picked as one of District 12’s two tributes, Katniss volunteers to take her place.
It’s an act of sisterly love and bravery above and beyond and it inspires some loyalty once Kat is shipped to the capital.
Katniss has a feller who likes her. His name is Gale (Liam Hemsworth) and he’s mostly in the background for this one. He’s big and tall and well showered which is doing well for District 12. Then there’s Peeta, who is the other District 12 Tribute. He’s smart and Katniss and Peeta have shared a nice moment previously.
He’s strong and smart and learns very quickly how to play the other part of the Hunger Games. He knows how to work a crowd.
There really are elements of Survivor the Series, gone all wrong to these games.
There’s the background. Katniss and Peeta are whisked away to the Capital to train and indulge and be exposed to the ultimate decadence that comes with new age privilege. Woody Harrelson is interesting as a previous winner of the games and Elizabeth Banks is unrecognizable as the hostess. Special mention goes to the over-the-top cheesemaster of ceremonies, Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman. He’s creepy and caring and should get nominated for a supporting actor Oscar. I’m a big fan of Tucci’s already and this just ratchets that up to a new level.
Donald Sutherland is ploddingly pensive as The President and almost wasted is Wes Bentley as Seneca, the head of the games.
Let me say this, you don’t need to have read the books to think this is a great film or to keep up with the story.
It’s visually compelling and while there is some intentionally jittery camera work it’s shot very personally and intimately.
It’s a complete film even though it’s the first of three books.
There’s more to sink your teeth into and you like these characters.
The violence is well handled and we see Kat transform into someone who has to handle a reality she wants no part of, but life is for the living. While Peeta expresses his desire to not lose who he is to the games, it’s Kat who retains her humanity and integrity throughout and in fact stays ahead of the people who want her dead, both in and out of the games.
Spoiler alert. This is the first of 3 so you may guess the outcome of the Games. All I’m saying is it all works.
It’s creative, accessible and never goes too far into high tech although the parts that are touched on are fascinating.
I am the first to lament excess on the part of a director but the film needed to be the full 2 hours and 20 minutes it clocks in at. I really loved the film and will watch it again.
Smart never goes out of style and this is a really smart film.
As always, other opinions are welcome, but wrong. That’s it for this week. The cheque’s in the mail and I’m outta here. Paul

Filed Under: News from Everywhere ElsePaul Peterson

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  1. Mark says:

    Are you familiar with Battle Royale? A great Japanese book that precedes this series. It is much darker, not really geared toward the Harry Potter/Twilight demographic.

  2. verytallman says:

    This was definitely the movie of the year. I loved the Gale character.

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