Hunger games is the blockbuster franchise based on Suzanne Collins bestseller trilogy, which in turn, is inspired by the Greek Mythology. Collins, through the hunger Games, introduced a whole new world that is a hostile environment for children and where the kid’s childhood is stolen as they are forced to live in fear of having their names being drawn out during the reaping ceremony. A boy and a girl are chosen as tributes from each of the 12 districts through the reaping ceremony. They eventually have to take part in the hunger games, where only one person becomes the victor. He/She survives the murderous environment or kills everyone to be the winner. The plot is intriguing as well as disturbing as it is about children killing each other before the mass audience. The irony is that the participants have to be from the age group 12-18, in our society a child is legally an adult only after 18.
The movie is about a young girl named Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) a strong person who looks after her unable mother and younger sister Primrose (Willow Shields). Katniss is a skilled hunter and archer, the strength she’s formed, after years of living in hunger and fear, helped her gain the courage to volunteer for her sister when the latter’s name was called out during the reaping ceremony. She is joined by Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), a young boy who has a heart of gold and tender nature. The rest of the plot is about her training and how she overcomes in the games. Amidst all this, her costume and her decisions made her the girl on fire.
A big shout out to Suzanne Collins for the proto-feminist elements in the story by delivering a strong female character who could generate revenue as well as popularity. The term of “girl on fire” gave a whole new definition as the word “girl”is used a lot in a context used to insult men (and women). Girls can kick ass and take bullets for her community and loved ones.
Gender roles neutralised and we see women doing the hunting activities and men look after the families and other businesses without any peer pressure. We see women needing the proper motivation and in the games, both boys and girls become the source of valour for their respective communities. Katniss Everdeen is one of my most favourite on-screen characters, not just because of her strength and endurance but because she was, in many ways, real. She does what is right and never feared before taking a stand as a rebel. But even then, she is ready to take a couple of steps back for the safety of her friends and peers. I can’t imagine anyone in that role but Jennifer Lawrence. She is perfect in every way. We experience the world of Panem through her eyes. The only drawback is the fact that she looks too strong and matured for a 16-year-old and as someone from a very poor background. She nailed it, especially in the “I volunteers as tribute” scene.
I became a die hard fan of Jennifer Lawrence after watching this movie. Josh Hutcherson succeeded in creating a persona who draws in admiration for his gentle and sweet nature. He is someone who learned how to survive the games but he cares for Katniss more. I loved the moment where he shakes his head, saying no, to Katniss while she was planning to go for a kit of bow and arrow, during the count down. Katniss and Peeta develop feelings for each other, but as per what is shown, the love part is not quite visible.
Katniss does what she did, as a sign of defiance against the capitol and malevolent leader President Snow (Donald Sutherland). This aspect, as inspiring it is, in way disturbs you as her choices are made to look hazy. Maybe that’s what the filmmakers needed in the first place, to deliver the world of Panem through Katniss’s complexity. Donald Sutherland is fantastic in his role as he has the villainous look. Willow Shields delivered a standout portrayal as a young girl who fears for her sister. The scene where she reacts to Katniss’s decision to take her place is powerful. Woody Harrelson is himself as Haymitch, but the more we despise him, likeable he becomes. Haymitch magic!
As much as I appreciate feminism and good acting from the movie, the direction is not perfect overall. The games sequence is too slow due to the sluggish pacing and the usage of too many shaky cam shots made it irritable altogether. In a film, that depicts children fighting and killing each other, a better direction is mandatory and Gary Ross couldn’t see to that. The book shows a community who is deprived of basic necessities like food and nourishment, where the bread is so expensive that Katniss takes a fresh breath off before devouring it. Poverty is shown in the films in bits and pieces and the audience, unless they have read the books, will have no sympathy for them. They just look forward to the “butchering” and “slaughtering” of teenagers.The visual effects looked amateur, notably in their scene where Katniss to show off her fiery gown and the final Mutt attack scene. The computer generated mutts were obvious. James Newton Howard’s music is stupendous as it takes you to Panem like the train which transports Katniss and Peeta to the Capitol.
Hunger games can be enjoyed as a film but as someone with expectations, it wasn’t up to the point overall.
Featured image: hunger games poster