This review-lite of the Hunger Games contains NO SPOILERS.
Fabulous! The best book retelling I have ever seen. Usually I find myself walking away, saying, “The book was way better than the movie.”, but this time I was fully satisfied driving home from the theater. Of course, not all my favorite moments were captured, but all the key scenes made the cut.
ACTING: The other potential disappointment is the acting, but not so with Hunger Games. The young people who played the tributes were amazing. Katniss was incredibly believable. There was a moment before the games when she was trembling with fear and anticipation. My adrenaline was pumping out nerves vicariously despite having read the books and knowing what would happen. Gail was exactly as I pictured him, cute, strong, and capable. At first glance I thought Peeta might not be what I expected, but as they started interacting, he was perfect. I thought Woody Harrelson had an acting stumble during his first few scenes, but it all smoothed out and he was a superb Haymitch in the end.
VIOLENCE: Now on to the hot topic, the violence. If you are familiar with the story and understand what is going to take place, then I think that there are no shockers here. The IMDb Parental Review section defined the violent episodes well. The directors did a great job of minimizing the potential impact. The other tributes were kept very non-descript. The book goes into more detail about each character, and I was more affected by their death in writing than watching it on-screen. A part both Randy and I agreed on is that the violence was not in any way glorified. You realize these teens had no choice and ache for them and the part they are forced to play. There were no reactions in the theater of, “Wow! Did you see that one get speared!” as you might experience in an old Terminator film. Each death, even the more ruthless tributes, felt like a loss.
My boys enjoyed the film. It gave us much discussion on the way home and probably for the next couple of days. They definitely needed to talk about it. If you are taking kids, I encourage you to drag some dialogue out of them.
My husband has already made many modern-day political parallels. That may sound tired or reaching, but our history as humans has had its dark and torrid past. It’s much better to look ahead and detour, rather than reminisce and regret.
Overall, it was a great thought-provoking film. My boys have watched movies like Lord of the Rings and have played games such as Call of Duty, so their tolerance level to on-screen violence and action may be a bit higher than some. It’s definitely a case-by-case decision. If you have the least bit of concern about your young one, I would recommend pre-screening. Then at the very least, you get to see it twice!