Of note is the treatment of violence in the movie. A film in which half of the plot revolves around a group of people trying to kill each other should ideally be created to receive an R rating, because to hold back on the violence can come across as cheesy or sugar-coated. However, the situation with “The Hunger Games” is unique, as the audience is specifically the young adult crowd; an R rating is not an option. However, the problem is handled nicely – the initial slaughter upon commencement of the Game is not shy when it comes to blood or vicious attacks, but the (again) shaky-cam effectively keeps the exposure to a PG-13 level while simultaneously providing an appropriate mood of chaos. Henceforth, much of the killing occurs off-screen, but the story is effective enough that the audience doesn’t feel cheated.
The best thing about the film, however, is that it managed to be surprisingly deep. To watch the trailer, one expected a teen-friendly “Battle Royale” rip-off, but as the first half of the film is devoted to exploring this dystopian future world and the nature of the media surrounding the game, it provides an excellent commentary on our own society and our reactions to violence, as well as our obsession with reality television and glitz and glamour. One of the most remarkable scenes is the afore-mentioned interview with the Tributes, hosted by Master of Ceremonies Caesar Flickerman (brilliantly portrayed by Stanley Tucci). The whole spectacle is bright and flashy and horrifically gaudy, but the huge audience laps it all up, consistently laughing or “awwww”-ing on cue. It is a bitter indictment of the mindless masses in our society who somehow get fulfillment out of watching the dreck provided just by switching on the television.
“The Hunger Games” can be viewed as just an exciting and entertaining movie, but it provides food for thought as well, if you let it – and you should let it. It is a very well-rounded film, and definitely worth the ticket price. See it in theaters – it deserves the big screen treatment.
And we only have a year and a half until the sequel.
Image: Rotten Tomatoes