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Friday, March 23, 2012

entertainme: "the hunger games" review

Writing this review for "The Hunger Games" movie seems almost superfluous. With the pre-excitement level for this film bigger than the "Twilight" and "Harry Potter" series, it would take hundreds of critic reviews saying that the "The Hunger Games" film was about a mom encouraging her kids to eat vegetables through various kitchen challenges for fans to even think twice about seeing this movie. It's already a winner.

As the millions of fans worldwide already know, the film is based on the acclaimed "The Hunger Games" young adult books by Suzanne Collins. If you have not read the books (I have not, along with maybe a handful of people so this paragraph is for you, otherwise skip to the next one.) "The Hunger Games," told from the point of view of teenager Katniss Everdeen, takes place in a post-apocolypitic country called Panem. Following a rebellion, as district sacrifices and for the benefit of entertainment, every year the twelve districts submit a male and female tribute who will battle each other in a televised survival game until only one tribute remains. (Imagine all the contestants in "The Bachelor" having to eviscerate each other to win the guy.) After Katniss's younger, delicate sister is randomly selected to fight, Katniss steps in to volunteer along with Peeta, the male tribute selected from her district.

In the film Katniss is portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence ("Winter's Bone"), Josh Hutcherson is Peeta ("The Kids Are All Right") and Liam Hemsworth ("The Last Song") is Katniss's best friend back home, Gale. Rounding out the cast is Stanley Tucci as the blue-haired enigmatic television host of "The Hunger Games", Elizabeth Banks as Effie, Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, District 12's mentor and former Hunger Games winner, Donald Sutherland is President Snow and Lenny Kravitz as stylist Cinna.

With a pedigreed cast, and an oft Oscar nominated crew (including cinematographer Tom Stern, costume designer Judianna Makovsky, editor Juliette Welfling and Oscar winner and editor Stephen Mirrione) "The Hunger Games" has all the ingredients that make up a Hollywood blockbuster. The story is gripping, it is beautifully shot and exactly what a hit should be. However, when you look at the story on paper "24 teenagers including several tender young girls use any means necessary to violently kill each other off until they become the last man standing" you wonder how that could possibly be an enjoyable story, especially for the young ones who seem to gravitate towards this series. As I watched the film I thought about my lovely and sweet twelve year-old niece, Amelia, and I wondered if it was too violent for her. After all, the kids onscreen who are shooting, stabbing and clawing at each other are her age. (For parents: Yes, it is disturbing but the blood and actual killing is shot in such a way that it isn't as gory as you would think.) I thought about "The Hunger Games" mall tour I recently covered in Seattle where thousands of young girls and boys as well as parents and those without kids waited for hours in the rain just to catch a glimpse of their heroes (Jennifer, Josh and Liam). Katniss, with her quick thinking and archery skills is scrappy. She is a survivor. She is a strong, brave young woman who doesn't use violence because she can. Katniss is calm, smart and kind and she also has two cute boys crushing on her. As role models go, Katniss is a good one to look up to. So when your daughter asks for a side braid, go for it.

You don't need to be a fan of "The Hunger Games" book to enjoy the film. It stands clearly and strongly on its own. My recommendation? Order your tickets RIGHT NOW online to get a seat to what will obviously be a #1 film for weeks to come.

May the odds be ever in your favor.

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