I went into this movie not really knowing what to expect. I mean, I knew it was going to consist of Jennifer Lawrence being a badass in some sort of post-apocalyptic future where they make kids fight to the death, but had no idea how intense it was going to be.
In many ways, the movie was just that–Jennifer Lawrence being a badass in some sort of post-apocalyptic future where they make kids fight to the death. And that’s awesome. But it’s mostly awesome because this movie reminded me of some of my favorite classic Si-Fi movies like Logan’s Run, Planet of the Apes, or Soylent Green, all without feeling dated.
The film held my attention, which is impressive for any movie not featuring super powers, aliens, or zombies. I’m pretty one-dimensional.
Basic overview of the plot…if you have not seen this film and don’t want it ruined, SKIP THIS PART!
So in the nation of Panem, which is apparently set somewhere in North America, is broken up into 12 districts and a Capitol (and during the film, I wanted District 9 to be inhabited by Prawns…it was not). Apparently at some point in Panem’s history, there was a revolution and/or Civil war. When the Rebels were defeated, the Nation was broken up into these districts. As punishment for being dirty, government-hating rebels, each year some weird representative from the Capitol comes to these districts and picks a boy and a girl to fight 22 other boys and girls, to the death, on TV. This all seems pretty twisted, but who knows how desensitized we could all become in the future so, while farfetched, this was believable. In district 12 we follow this girl Katniss played by Jennifer Lawrence (apparently everyone has strange names in Panem–don’t get me started on Foxface–yes there is a girl named Foxface). Katniss is pretty badass to start, taking care of her family, hunting with her bow and arrow to feed them or to sell for other necessities. One scene depicted Katniss and Baby Thor (Liam Hemsworth) sharing what looks like an Amaroso sandwich roll…when she sees it, she says, “is that real?” seemingly to stress the point that EVERYONE IS HUNGRY HERE.
Elizabeth Banks (Slither and 30 Rock, among other things) shows up in district 12 to pick some kids to die, and happens to pull the name of Katniss’ sister. Katniss gets all emotional and offers herself as “Tribute” which means she will go in place of her sister. This is apparently unheard of, well, because it’s basically suicide. Powdered wig-clad Elizabeth Banks picks a dude to fight also and they all head to the capitol.
Katniss and Peeta (said dude from above paragraph, played by Josh Hutcherson of Zathura “fame”) meet drunken Woody Harrelson who is supposed to teach them how to not die. Much tension and drama ensue. They get to the Capitol, a place where everything is chrome and everyone dresses like royalty from 1776. At this point they are washed because they are dirty peasant people and that simply won’t do. Katniss meets Lenny Kravitz, who is the first to be real by basically saying “I’m sorry you’re going to die…but let’s make you look pretty for this parade.”
During the parade, the tiny gladiators ride in on chariots (SURPRISE) and are supposed to be as eye-catching as possible to gain sponsors…basically companies or wealthy people who send supplies into the arena (like matches, magic healing cream, or food) if they like you. Our heroes from district 12 come in last (because 12 is after 11) on FIRE. Apparently, they have the technology to create fire that doesn’t hurt you, but they can’t feed their country and like to watch kids kill each other.
After the parade, playtime is over and it’s time to train for 4 days. All 24 contestants line up and throw knives, fake sword fight, learn how to make fire (real fire), and tough-guy stare at each other, Yes I’m talking about you, Alexander Ludwig of “The Seeker.” We find out that Districts 1 and 2 train their kids from birth to be psychotic death machines because, let’s face it, this is the 74th Hunger Games…meaning there were 73 games before this and you would be a stupid district NOT to train your children to be bloodthirsty monsters. Districts 1 and 2 learn from the past.The Seeker being a douche
At this point (because there is only one winner) each team of two sort of breaks off into separate groups, The favorite, and the one that will obviously die. Katniss is our favorite (if that wasn’t clear) Blue-haired Stanley Tucci is the Ryan Seacrest of The Hunger Games. He talks to the Tributes about stupid crap to make viewers interested. It’s basically American Idol meets every other reality show ever with a dash of The Most Dangerous Game.
So now it’s SHOW TIME! Each kid is on a platform, and if they run off early to grab at the pile of supplies and weapons in the middle of the field, they explode. Once the game starts, The Seeker and his fellow psychos from districts 1 and 2 start slaughtering kids left and right. Katniss grabs a backpack and runs up a hill, sets some traps, and sleeps in a tree. While she was sleeping The Seeker starts the Cool Kids Death Squad* to hunt down all the other kids, we find emotional-weakling Peeta-bread (get it? Because his parents are bakers!) hanging out with the CKDS to hunt down Katniss…that little wimp.
After some wandering, some more trees, and a fire set by the people controlling the games, Katniss comes face to face with the CKDS and they chase her up a tree. Because the CKDS sucks at climbing and aiming things, they decide to wait for her to come down, and fall asleep. Once our hero wakes up she sees another small girl in another tree who signals for her to drop a nest of genetically enhanced wasps on the other kids.
In case you thought you misread that last line
DROP A NEST OF GENETICALLY ENHANCED WASPS ON THE OTHER KIDS
That’s what she does! As it happens these wasps have SUPER VENOM that causes you to hallucinate and maybe die. The bow-wielding girl in the CKDS dies by wasp, and Katniss pries it from her cold, dead hand while hallucinating because she got stung by a couple of GENETICALLY ENHANCED WASPS, herself. Wimpy Peeta then runs over and demands she get going because his allegiance to the CKDS was all a ruse and he loves her, redeeming himself as not a total tool.
Katniss wakes up to find the small girl from that other tree has been keeping her safe and they become BFFs 4 ever. She goes to steal some supplies from the cool kids, but they have them booby trapped with bombs so she just blows up their supply, instead. When she gets back, her new BFF (Rue) is trapped under a net, Katniss gets her out just as another psycho runs up and throws a knife at Rue. Rue dies, everyone is sad.
Rue’s death starts a revolution in her native district 11, which prompts the people running the games to change the rules a bit. Thanks to seemingly sober Woody Harrelson, there can now be 2 winners, as long as they are from the same district. So Katniss runs to Peeta and they kiss in a cave. Some sponsor sends them Magic Healing Cream and they get all better from their wounds. (oh yeah. they were both wounded.)
Because this has been going on for a while, dudes in charge decide to mix it up a bit and put some MUTANT BEAR DOGS in the ring. Up until this point, I bought the whole end of the world death-match thing, but there is no way that technology has advanced to the point that you can draw a picture of a mutant bear dog and magically make it a real thing. It just doesn’t work that way. Somehow, they did just that and sent 3 of these buggers in to eat everyone.
Katniss and Peeta get chased to the starting point of the games by these Bear Dogs, where they climb on top of the bunker where weapons were, only to find a crazy Seeker driven to woods-madness and covered in blood. There is a bit of rough and tumble on the bunker and the Seeker holds Peeta in the standard hostage pose. Katniss shoots him in the hand and Peeta throws him to the bear dogs.
So…game over right? 2 kids from the same district are the only survivors so it’s time to shower them with gifts. AH but they decide to rescind the previous rule about 2 winners so now the cave kissers must fight! Peeta tells Katniss to murder him because he loves her and junk but Katniss has another idea: ”LET’S EAT THESE DEATH BERRIES AT THE SAME TIME SO THAT NO ONE WINS!” that will show them! And show them it does—just as they are about to take a mouthful of death to the face, they are announced as co- winners!
HORRAY! they both won and everyone is happy…except for Baby Thor, because he totally wanted to hit that, and she kissed the kid from Zathura in a cave.
The Hunger Games comes to DVD and Blue Ray on August 18th 2012. Watch it with your face. Buy The Hunger Games DVDs from Amazon
* The Cool Kids Death Squad is the name of my new band. Please apply in the comments as to what you would like to play. Auditions will be held next thursday.