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The Hunger Games Review: Katniss Is The Girl Hero We’ve Been Waiting For

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The Hunger Games is an exceptionally faithful adaptation of the popular novel by Suzanne Collins. Normally such a slavish approach to a book as source material would be the kiss of death, but in this case Collins’ book is so straightforward and simple that it easily lends itself to the no frills approach taken by director Gary Ross.

Like the book the movie doesn’t waste a lot of time developing the complexities of an alternate world. It exists in a place where a country, divided into twelve districts, keeps the peace by forcing each of its member states to participate in an annual tournament to the death. Each district must send two young people to participate as tribute, and this year one of the tributes is Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence).

It may surprise the uninitiated to learn that, for a movie which revolves almost entirely around an arena where kids must murder each other, the fight scenes aren’t really the highlight of The Hunger Games. Sticking with the approach used by the book the battles are brutal and quick, the deaths swift and in some cases not even shown. Ross takes that even further by coating his movie in the fog of excessive shaky cam. Maybe this helped them get that PG-13 rating Hollywood so covets. It doesn’t matter.

Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson in The Hunger Games

It may further surprise you to discover that for a movie set in a high-tech dystopian future, there’s very little special effects wizardry in use. As the book did The Hunger Games movie focuses primarily on people, people fighting with knives and swords and arrows; and when called for rocks and fists. The only real indication here that this might be in the future at all is the occasional, extremely brief appearance of a hover ship, or the unusually successful application of lasers in creating an overhead lightshow. Pink Floyd would be proud. You won’t care.

The real point of this story is in pushing the audience to develop an attachment to Katniss, and to a lesser extent some of the supporting characters she has in her corner. The Hunger Games does that well. It’s simple, but in its simplicity The Hunger Games finds a way to tell an engaging story, and tell it well. Maybe there was a way to take this even further, maybe Ross should have added more of his own touch to Collins’ tale but it works this way, and in the process does what no other movie, let a lone a sci-fi movie, has done in a long time.

Remember, Katniss is a girl. And unlike almost every other film you may have seen recently in which the female protangonist is defined almost entirely by who she chooses to date (I’m looking at you Twilight) or worse by the pretty dresses she decides to wear, The Hunger Games presents a strong female character who defines herself. She’s a hero worthy of adoration and inspiration. If you’re a parent looking for decent entertainment to show your teenage daughter, here it is. The Hunger Games has the feminine hero we’ve been waiting for. Support it. See it.

Comments

  1. EF says:

    It’s interesting that you say Katniss is a hero, because one of her
    defining characteristics seems to me to be that she is, if anything, a
    reluctant hero.  She’s the right girl in the right place at the right
    time, and she wears her heroism uncomfortably most of the time.  That’s
    not a criticism–I think it’s a clever characterization on Collins’
    part.  Katniss is not exactly an anti-hero, but, well, I’m not sure
    she’s exactly a hero, either–at first.  She is most certainly a better role model
    than many female characters out there, as you say, partly because she
    absolutely defines herself: after balking at the definition that the
    rebels thrust upon her, she eventually takes it and makes it her own.  

  2. Baby Fart McGeeziaks says:

    I don’t get it… this movie looks so bad. I think I would actually rather watch twilight than this based on the trailers, I mean, that bratty kid from Zathura and every other annoying tween movie is in it and the rest of the cast seems to be pretty similar. I actually begged my girlfriend to go see John Carter instead yesterday (interestingly enough she ended up loving it!). But the good reviews are starting to pull me in… I may have to buckle down and go see this.

  3. The movie was pretty good, I don’t get some of the changes though, they really could have upped the intensity a lot and they chose not to, especially with the final kill of the game.

  4. Chris Paris says:

    That’s a whole lotta article that doesn’t address teh headline. WHY is “Katniss the girl here we’ve been waiting for?” The only sentence that comes close to an answer in the entire piece is that “she defines herself.”

    As what? Why? Is the just a female actress playing a tough guy? Or does she bring something of her gender into the role?

    This article needs another paragraph or two.

  5. Chris Paris says:

    Also, what’s this film’s relationship with BATTLE ROYALE, which sounds pretty similar?

  6. M Martinez says:

    why did collins choose katniss to tell the story of the hunger games