The Hunger Games, the first part of a 3-part story based on the young adult novels by Suzanne Collins, takes place in a futuristic, post-apocalyptic world that has seen the destruction of North America and the rise of a population subjugated by a select few. In place of North America, 12 districts containing the majority of the population who live in poverty and despair are ruled by the wealth-filled Capital whose population never knows the hardships most face in their every day life. In order to keep the districts in line, the Hunger Games are conducted once a year, a competition where two children (one male and one female) between the ages of 12 and 18 are selected from each district in a process known as the reaping. These tributes must fight to the death as a form of entertainment for the Capital denizens.
This concept of a post-apocalyptic future with the few haves ruling over the many have-nots or even where competitors have to battle it out to the death on televised broadcasts isn’t exactly a new or fresh concept in the world of Sci-Fi. What does make the Hunger Games a bit unique is that the main character is a young girl opposed to some kind of leading male action star you typically find in these types of movies.
The story focuses primarily on the character of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) who has learned to live off the woods surrounding the fenced-in District 12 to provide for her younger sister and mother. She hunts with a bow and arrow, a skill taught by her late father who died in a coal-mining accident. After volunteering to take her sister’s place in the reaping, Katniss must compete in the latest round of the Hunger Games along with fellow District 12 member Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutchenson). The two are whisked off to the Capital City where they are prepared for the Games by former Games winner and District 12 resident Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), who at first appears to be nothing more than a drunkard who wants nothing to do with his latest students. Abernathy’s apathy changes over the course of the movie as his tributes show promise. Harrelson gives a great performance in the movie as does Staneley Tucci who plays Caesar Flickerman, the host of the Hunger Games and Donald Sutherland who plays President Snow. All three actors do a great job in their supporting roles and really help add a dimension to the movie that will appeal to a wider audience.
The Hunger Games trilogy is compared frequently to the Twilight Saga, a series that I do not adore. With that in mind, I was a bit hesitant going into this one but was pleasantly surprised to find that both the movie and the book were a lot better and seem to have things that will appeal to a wider age-range of people, both male and female. The movie, even though it doesn’t go into the character development nearly as much as the book, manages to keep the overall story intact. There may be a few character nuances you might not pick up on so easily if you haven’t read the book, but overall you should get the gist of what is happening and there are both some good action scenes that will keep you on the edge of your seat as well as emotional scenes that will tug on your heartstrings a bit.
I have not read the second or third books yet so I don’t know how the overall story ends, and obviously this is only the first chapter in that story so I can’t say how good the entire plot will be. So far the book and the movie have managed to entertain me and keep me interested in finding out what happens next. If you considered passing on this one because you think it’s just another Twilight movie, then don’t - it is a lot better than that.