|Still from The Hunger Games|
Set in the not-too-distant future in a famine and war-torn version of North America called Panem - one Boy and one Girl are to be chosen from each of its twelve districts. They will fight to-the-death in a series of annual Televised Games which all Citizens are required to watch. Sparing the life of her weak younger Sister Primrose (Willow Shields) after her name is drawn in the determining Lottery, a brazen Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) decides to volunteer herself. Together with her drawn male Counterpart Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), she must fight for the honour of her District and more importantly, fight to survive against her vicious and increasingly ruthless Opponents. With the help of her Mentors Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) and Cinna (Lenny Kravitz), Katniss undergoes the Transformation of a lifetime needed to place her in good favour with all-too-crucial Sponsors and the watchful Public. There can only be one Winner in The Hunger Games, but will it be her? What will become of her looming Romance with Peeta, if only one of them were to live?
Never having flipped a page in the Suzanne Collins Trilogy which the forthcoming The Hunger Games Films are and will be based upon, I found myself drawn-in almost instantaneously to this cutthroat World ruled by tyrannous President Snow (Donald Sutherland), where Human Beings heartlessly are pitted against one another for Entertainment. We don't question it, we accept it and for two-and-a-half hours we are on the edge of our seats, hoping for the best.
Director Gary Ross takes this Story set against unfortunate circumstances and turns it into an experience that is visceral, tapping into truths about basic Human needs for Love, Companionship and Protection. We are swept away on a battle, questioning loyalties, yet always being careful never to fall prey to lethal traps. We aren't watching a Movie, we are growing along with Katniss and fighting with her.
Much will be said about Jennifer Lawrence's portrayal of Katniss, with her brilliant Academy Award-nominated turn in 2010's Winter's Bone acting essentially as an Audition Tape for this defining role in her exciting Career. She channels that same fire she showed us then and then some; we see her challenged physically and taxed emotionally, playing a Sister/Mother Figure, while at once we are reminded that she still is a Teenage Girl coming to terms with her own sexual awakening in becoming a Woman. The weight of the World quite literally is on her shoulders and The Hunger Games will immortalize her as a real Role Model for Girls (and Boys) for generations to come. To be able to shine among a Cast which includes seasoned veterans Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci and a Rock Legend in Lenny Kravitz, is by all means no easy task and Lawrence soars in what looks like an effortless performance.
Already having hinted at much potential in his brief but promising career, Josh Hutcherson channels that irresistible lovelorn susceptibility which drives Girls out to Mall Tours en masse. It will be interesting to see what comes of the sparingly-hinted Love Story between Katniss and Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) in forthcoming installments of this Franchise. Believe the hype, The Hungers Games delivers - the odds are ever in its favour. Alliance Films releases everywhere in Canada on March 23, 2012.