Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

The Hunger Games


I enjoyed the books (I have read all three), and was curious to see how this one would turn out as a movie. I guess they didn’t dare change much, since the books have such a huge fan base of ‘tween and teen girls. And they didn’t. The premise is so awful that I think a lot of people would be put off. As punishment for an uprising over 70 years ago, the government of a future nation called Panem decreed the Hunger Games, where a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 are selected at random from each of 12 districts, some of them poorer than others but all much poorer than the Capitol. Katniss Everdeen is from District 12, which is the poorest of all, a mining district where life is cheap and things are dire indeed. Starvation is a distinct possibility. Her beloved younger sister is chosen, so she steps forward to volunteer to take her place, knowing it’s almost certain death. Already I like her.

These kids are groomed, wined and dined, made into instant celebrities by teams of fashion designers and make-up artists, given a little training, and then thrown into an artificial environment to fight to the death. Only one can win, and the rewards are substantial. But the cruelty almost beggars the imagination. Almost … but not quite. You will soon think of the gladiatorial games of Rome, and not long after that the idea of reality television will enter your head. Because that’s what this is, reality TV taken to its extreme, an entertainment for the almost hilariously decadent citizens of the Capitol, though it is also shown to the people of the districts. (Robert Sheckley wrote several variations on this theme in the ‘50s and ‘60s.) Parallels can be drawn with our situation today, with more of the wealth concentrated in the top 1% every year, with no signs that it will ever quit until most of us are impoverished, virtual slaves to the people with the dough. So, yeah, I can believe this premise, sick as it is. And I can certainly see its appeal to young girls, and boys as well. Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen is very good. She’s not beautiful (though certainly not unattractive). She is plucky, determined, serious … a fighter. She has boy trouble, with two handsome guys in love with her. This series is off the a good start, and having read the next two, I know it’s going some serious places. It’s vastly superior to those awful Twilight movies, and I look forward to Catching Fire and Mockingjay.