The Hunger Games

Heroes come in different sizes, genders, colors and ages.

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen is 21 in real life and plays a teen rather closer to the high end of 12-18 from which contestants are drawn.  Drawn to kill each other until there is but one standing.

Inevitably, The Hunger Games is being compared to William Golding’s Lord of  the Flies, an American classic.  The comparison is rather thin, as the Golding book explores the dénouement of the psyche of children thrust into an unbidden situation where they must survive by their wits.  In The Hunger Games they just have to kill each other.  Creating a governing body is irrelevant here, while it is the theme of Lord of the Flies.

Lawrence’s Katniss is a most appealing heroine, exhibiting qualities we all admire but rarely see in ourselves or our fellow humans.  She volunteers herself into harm’s way to save her sister and comports herself throughout the carnage with nobility.  When she kills it is defensively;  when she makes a point it is with skill and finesse.  She learns from mentors and adversaries alike, and inspires loyalty from all who are not hell-bent on her destruction.

The movie fails, in parts, to tie things up and we are sometimes uninformed about motives and reasons for actions.  But it moves rapidly – no boring parts,  and we are mesmerized by Jennifer Lawrence’s beauty and bearing.  There are other appealing characters, to be sure, although Donald Sutherland and Woody Harrelson seem to be there just for their names. Each has done far better work.

One criticism being leveled by some is that Ms. Lawrence is too well-fed for the role.  That Katniss should be leaner coming from a district which is relatively poor and that she would not be so plump.  Well, get over yourself.  This is not a documentary, it is an adventure.  Her hair wouldn’t stay so neat under conditions of combat either, nor would the billowy afro of her fellow warrior, Rue, nicely played by 13 year old Amandla Sternberg.  In the real world Katniss would probably be less curvy, but if this is your real world, you may need help.

Enjoyable to watch.  Probably not destined to be a classic, although it is setting records.  Three stars.

A word about IMAX.  While the film itself was okay in IMAX, there were places where the action was blurry.  During the trailers, the action sequences seemed to have been chosen to show off the thousands of watts in the sound system.  The crashes and conflicts sent enough bass voltage through the room to actually cause me discomfort.  I may attend IMAX sometime in the future for a 3D nature feature, but I did not care for it.  Surely skip the trailers and come only for the feature unless you are a glutton for megawatts of bass;  technology at its worst.