Rich, poor, Republican, Democrat. What could happen to our world if we don't address poverty? "The Hunger Games" is fiction. Or maybe not.
Do we have blinders on to the acute need for wealth to be redistributed? Are we choking our families and leaving our children to have to face up to a bleak future? Will Capitalism triumph over poverty or destroy us all?
"The Hunger Games" is about children left to fight for their lives in a post-apocalyptic dystopian world — as ghetto children do today. We just don't talk much about them, much less make movies about them.
The writer of this trilogy, Suzanne Collins, is the true star of this film. She wrote the novel, co-produced it and co-wrote the screenplay that is directed by Gary Ross. Ross also co-wrote the screenplay along with Billy Ray.
Collins' idea came from watching the Iraq War and its shock and awe campaign on TV and then switching to a reality show. She put both emotional experiences together, wrote a novel and voila! — "The Hunger Games."
"The Hunger Games" is set in the future. There has been an uprising, a World War of sorts, and the working class lost to the Capitol and its wealthy inhabitants. The remaining dystopian society is divided into 12 districts and once a year the Capital conducts games. Teenage boys and girls from each district must fight for their lives on national television (Shades of "The Running Man"?.
Contestants are referred to as Tributes. This bloodbath is a metaphor for what we have coming into our homes nightly in the form of reality TV. Viewers enjoy watching these train wrecks because they make them feel better about themselves.
Katness Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has volunteered to play in these games because her younger sister's name was selected in the lottery. To protect her sister, Katness insists that she go to the Capitol instead.
Novelist Collins was plainly inspired by ancient Rome, its gladiators and its coliseum.
The Capitol is portrayed in all of it futuristic splendor and is reminiscent of the ancient customs and mores of Rome with all of its splendor and self-indulgence. Costumes are over the top. Every extra is coifed and powdered in shades of red and blue face powder along with blue lipstick. They sport butterfly-motif false eye lashes while gigantic hair pieces adorn all.
Jennifer Lawrence is refreshing, a heavy duty talent, and carries this film like an Olympic champion going for the gold. She pole vaults over all of the men with the grace of a newborn star.
To win the game and to stay alive, her love interest becomes Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), but her true love is Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hamsworth) who remains in the 12th district while she battles for her life and for enough food for a year to feed her poverty-stricken district, reminiscent of a coal mining town in Appalachia.
Hawthorne and other townsfolk watch Katness try to overcome terror on a series of Jumbotrons in the town's square as do citizens of the Capitol, who watch on giant TV screens in every nook and cranny.
Blue-haired Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) is both sinister and amusing as the emcee for the games, and Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) plays the self-indulgent Marie Antoinette-type-hostess of the Capitol. Woody Harrelson delivers a driving performance and not one false moment as Haymitch Abernathy, a sponsor who aids the Tributes while in battle, Overseeing all is President Snow played by Donald Sutherland with condescending aplomb.
At a press screening the audience applauded in spots and at the end which, of course, is a set up for a sequel. Bye-bye, Harry Potter. Hello, Katness Aberdeen.
Are you ready for this media onslaught? Get a big bag of popcorn and pig out because "The Hunger Games" — which transcends all generations — is long and well worth every morsel.