The Score: "The Hunger Games Is Likely To Break Box-Office Records"

Friday, Mar 23, 2012 12:06PM

Written by J. Bachelor

Watch Trailer
  • The Hunger Games
  • Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson
  • March 23, 2012
USA Today 3/4
Three Movie Buffs 3.5/4
Mania 8/10
The Guardian 5/5
Media Mikes 4/5

The game is on. Fans of the popular trilogy by Suzanne Collins can now witness the opening act, as The Hunger Games looks to slaughter the competition at the box office this weekend.

Set within a morally void society in which children are forced to fight to the death, Hunger offers viewers a peek at humanity at its worse.

The story is set in the future remains of North America, now known as Panem. It's a country divided into 12 districts surrounding the Capital. 74 years before the movie starts, the districts staged an unsuccessful revolution. After putting the rebellion down, the Capital decreed that to mark the anniversary of the failed revolt, every district would send two children (one boy, one girl), drawn by lottery, to participate in a fight to the death in an arena devised by the Capital Gamemakers. The fight is streamed to all the districts and presented like a reality television show, only one that takes the term "survivor" quite literally. Jennifer Lawrence plays Katniss Everdeen, the female tribute from District 12. When her kid sister's name is drawn in the lottery, Katniss volunteers to take her place.(Three Movie Buffs)

Although the novel series is targeted at young adults, older viewers can find entertainment in the film's many throwback references.

If you're older than the film's target audience, that won't be the only outside reference that'll occur to you as you watch the film. There's the dressing-up-to-be-selected-to-die scene from the short story The Lottery; the Wizard of Oz by way of Dr. Seuss hairstyles and fashions of the Capitol; the plot that mirrors the Japanese teen flick Battle Royale, and a generous helping of fall-of-Rome references, from the tributes' introductory chariot ride through the streets of the Capitol to such sibilant character names as Cinna, Seneca and Caesar to the name of the country itself: Panem, which sounds like a shortening of Pan American but is actually from the Latin "panem et circenses," for "bread and circuses."(NPR)

Unlike the popular film series Twighlight, The Hunger Games is light on romance and high on action as the teen combatants find themselves in a true fight to the finish.

Twilight, this isn't. And for the most part, it works. Elizabeth Banks and Stanley Tucci get to chew scenery as unctuous officials happy to see casualties mount. Woody Harrelson plays an appealing Haymitch Abernathy, the hard-drinking mentor who once hacked his way to victory and has Katniss' back.(USA Today)

The film manages to offer up action and adventure while still making a statement about the future of a society entertained by human tragedy.

The Hunger Games convinces us of its authenticity, giving the storyline room to breathe in the process. It's not the most original narrative ever devised - Battle Royale remains an obvious inspiration, though it also owes a debt to Stephen King's novel The Long Walk - but it brings enough wrinkles to the formula to create an identity of its own. Credit for that likely goes to Suzanne Collins, who wrote the novel after a career spent writing for television. The film's none-too subtle satire of the media's voraciousness and our willingness to be blinded by its sheen works by not overplaying its hand, and by letting the universe carry it rather than altering the world to fit its needs.(Mania)

Critics were impressed with The Hunger Games, saying that although it could have been a bit more edgy, it is an enjoyable release for both fans of the series and movie goers looking for an exciting story.

Back to the audience: satisfied, buzzing. The Hunger Games is likely to break box-office records, and I have no doubt the majority of its audience will like it and love (for good reason) Jennifer Lawrence. But where is the pervasive, lingering sense of loss? Where is the horror? Maybe the true horror is how easily the movie goes down.(Vulture)
The film, like the book, never settles down in tone or intent. The cold Orwellian architecture and cruel Swiftian message (kids slaying kids is a more-than-modest proposal) would indicate satire, while the nutty fluorescent hairdos suggest it's all goof - a chance to play dress-up with the bold aesthetic cues of sci-fi fascism. As for the romance at the center, well, teens will be teens. At least when they aren't busy killing each other.(SF Gate)

Check out the film's trailer below:

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