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The Hunger Games [DVD]
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
All science fiction futuristic societies are written to have a message about the current day. This is normally contained within the text, or a line someone speaks. The movie starts giving us some background for the games, but we don't know why there was a rebellion in the first place, something that is in the book. The rebellion resulted in a lottery where teens from the various districts must now compete in a survivor battle to the death, all for the entertainment of the audience. Early in the film we hear, "If no one watches, we won't have a game." In other words if we stop watching reality TV shows, they will be taken off the air...not exactly a bad thing.

In those other films the evil of society had been either, capitalism, socialism, the super rich, corporations, religion, or science. The irony of the film/book is that it makes fun of the viewer/reader for enjoying it. They are the problem with today's voyeuristic dummy down society, which like the movie can be divided into two groups" Those who see the movie/games as entertainment. And the intellectuals who realize the metaphor contained within. I'm loving it! (Pardon my pop culture response, but it seems apropos.)

There is a stark contrast in wealth and dress between those who participate in the games and the society who runs them. However, it is those who participate who ultimately empower those who run them, just like with war, the second message of the film which dates from Homer "War is old men lying, young men dying."

Jennifer Lawrence, who I thought was Oscar worthy in "Winter's Bone," immediately becomes our heroine when she volunteers to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games. We don't expect her to die anytime soon. As the fighting begins I kept wondering if they were going to simply fight for everyone's entertainment or are we going to get a Captain Kirk/Agorn moment when he has defeated his opponent and refuses to kill him shouting, "You are going to have to get your entertainment elsewhere!" Or maybe we could end it like "Death Race 2000" where Frankenstein kills the president...but I am getting way ahead of myself.

The victims, or tributes as they are called, are paraded and cheered having done nothing...similar to reality show TV "stars." (Yes I mean you talentless Snooki.) People wildly cheer because...they can. Woody Harrelson helps to bridge the time from when Jennifer Lawrence is selected until the fighting begins. Donald Sutherland appears as an unrealistic unlikeable President Snow, a composite character representing the evil of society. There are interviews and pageantry prior to the games during which time we get to know more about Jennifer and very little about the other contestants. It would have been nice to have known some of the quirky combatants and have them killed in ironic ways to their character, but maybe that was too much to ask about a film about shallow entertainment.

Jennifer, with her honesty and rebellious attitude has become the fan favorite and our favorite because she is the only contestant that we know. She lacks the killer instinct...until she must. Alliances form and everyone wants to get the fan favorite aka Rambette Jennifer Lawrence, who did an excellent job to give girls a heroine being both a compassionate woman and a huntress. Like all reality TV shows, when the drama starts to fade the program directors add an element to push it in the direction that they want.

No f-bombs, sex, or nudity. "Safe" for kids to watch.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 17 May 2015
I admit that “The Hunger Games” was a surprisingly good film, considering that it's based on a fantasy novel for teenagers, and I'm not *that* young anymore.

I haven't read the novels, but the film reminded me of “Running Man”, with its parody of staged reality shows and violent entertainment. “Running Man” was made in 1987. It seems nothing has changed in the entertainment industry! Besides, the next logical step in reality TV probably is a gladiator contest. I mean, the networks are running out of ideas with a shock factor...

But, of course, “The Hunger Games” goes deeper. The story probably works best if you see it as a caricature of today's society: elite groups out of control, super-exploited subjects in outlaying districts, and “panem et circenses” for the stupid masses. “The Hunger Games” is a weirdly believable futuristic scenario. I can almost see it happening.

Let's hope those mockingjays will be around to save us!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
It’s been hard for the last few years to not hear about The Hunger Games. Even before the movies started coming out, everyone who read talked about the books. While I have been holding out on reading them or watching the movies, I knew at some point I’d see what all the buzz is about. The first movie being on ABC Family last weekend was just the push I needed to plunge into this world.

Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is a typical teenager – at least in her world. She is part of district 12, one of the outlying regions in Panem. While the wealth is located in the capital, the rest of the country struggles to survive. And every year, two teens, a boy and a girl, are randomly chosen from each district to compete in a brutal contest to the death until only one of them remains.

As the movie opens, it is once again time for the lottery. When her sister is chosen, Katniss volunteers to take her place. Taken to the capital along with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), a boy she’s known all her life, she must suddenly figure how to compete for her very life. That includes being nice and getting sponsors who might help her during the games, something she is not very good at. But even with help, will Katniss be able to overcome the odds and survive the Hunger Games themselves?

Since I haven’t read the books, I am coming to the movie with no preconceived ideas of how the story should be told, so you won’t find any complaints about changes from the book here. However, I did find the story a little hard to get into. Part of it, I’m sure, is the fact that character development is one thing always cut when a book is made into a movie. (Okay, fine, a book to movie comparison.) Plus, I knew how the story would have to end, at least partially, so I didn’t allow myself to get too emotionally invested in the majority of the characters. Still, I did find the killing in the movie hard to watch, which I’m sure was the point. Unlike slasher movies (which I do enjoy upon occasion), this movie rightly makes the killing something horrible to be reviled even though each death means Katniss is closer to winning. The violence wasn’t graphic (at least on TV), but it was still rightfully hard to watch.

Honestly, this dichotomy has been one reason I’ve been hesitant to read the books. I knew I’d struggle with all the death, again weird since I do read murder mysteries most of the time. The story definitely treats the entire thing as something truly evil, as it should be, with those who celebrate the games being monsters, again as it should be. The result is something deeper to think about when you are done with the movie.

I am thrilled to see what a great character Katniss is. She is a selfless young woman who sacrifices for her sister. When the games begin, she actually goes out of her way to avoid killing, only killing in self-defense and even doing her best to protect one of the youngest competitors for a time. Mind you, she has the skills to take out the others if she has to, but she doesn’t do it unless absolutely forced to do so. It is easy to get behind her as a result, and I was glad to see such a wonderful role model in the story.

The cast does a great job with their various roles. Again, I came to this with no preconceived ideas of how anyone should look or act, but I thought the actors were great at bringing their characters to life. I especially enjoyed Woody Harrelson as the only winner from District 12 who then mentors Katniss and Peeta before the games begin. Jennifer Lawrence carries much of the movie, and she is wonderful as Katniss.

The director chose to go with the shaky camera work for the film, a technique I hate. Fortunately, on the small screen, it didn’t bother me too much, although all the quick cuts at times made it hard to tell exactly what was happening. That’s my biggest complaint about the film. I also thought a few of the cut aways to other locations slowed down the story.

I think my reaction to the film fits how I thought I would feel about the franchise. Still, I am curious how the series progresses, so I will be on the lookout for the sequel to The Hunger Games so I can watch it soon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The film version of the first book in a hugely popular trilogy of young adult science fiction dystopian novels comes to dvd, after a hugely successful cinema release.

For those who haven't read the book:

Near future America. Now called Panem. Somewhen after a devastating war. The country is divided into twelve districts. Some of which are richer than others. All provide vital resources. And all are ruled over by the capitol. Ever since the war, by way of punishment, each district has to send two teenagers to the capital every year for the hunger games. One male. One female. Twenty four competitors. They go into a sealed environent. Fight to the death. And only one can come out.

It's reality tv taken to the extreme. The stylish residents of the capital love the hunger games and betting on who will win.

Impoverished mining district 12 has only ever had one winner in all the years of the games. But when Katniss Everdeen, district 12 resident, a girl who helps support her family via hunting, since she's a crackshot with a bow, has to volunteer to take part in the games in order to save her sister from them, her world will never be the same again. Katniss is a loner, but she has to get used to the world of the capital. Working with other people, from her would be mentor to fellow competitor Peeta, a boy she barely knows. And she will have to fight to survive if she ever wants to see her family again....

The world of the hunger games sees people hooked on questionable reality tv. It sees a privileged and wealthy elite ruling a world where the poorer people feel ever more disenfrancished. And it sees a girl learning to trust and work with others and to do the right thing. It has lots of themes. Plus an excellent and strong central character. Someone who doesnt have superpowers, but is a credible and believable creation thus someone you can relate to. This is why the books are so popular.

Near future science fiction is a tricky thing to get right because, as they say, the one thing you can be sure about in regards to the future is that it won't look anything like we expect it will. But there's some excellent design work here which does go a long way towards creating a credible future society. From the impoversished mining area of district 12 to the bright fashions and futuristic buildings of the capital.

Jennifer Lawrence is perfect casting in the lead, bringing Katniss superbly to life.

Since the book was written entirely in first person present tense, the movie opts to focus on Katniss via lots of moments when she has no dialogue and moments of violence being done via fast moving handheld steadicams. It's an approach that succeeds, thanks also to the strength of the character and the portrayal.

It also opens the story out somewhat by having scenes that Katniss doesnt appear in. This being a change from the book. But these succeed because they show more of her world and add extra depth to some of the characters. There are two whom readers of the book might think differently about come the end as a result.

The casting of all the supporting characters is also good, Donald Sutherland in particular making President Snow a credible creation and a good three dimensional character.

In order to get a certificate that would allow younger viewers to watch, this is somewhat toned down from the book, all the violence as mentioned being fast and blurry and there being no blood. Even so this and the themes of the story mean a twelve certificate is about right and it wouldn't be ideal for anyone younger.

Readers of the book will find some minor changes but those are there to make it work as a movie, and it does that very well. If you really want to know all the differences then an internet search will bring up a lengthy articles that detail all of them But there's really nothing too major.

Half the film is the build up to the games. The other is the games themselves. Despite this the pace of the first half never drags. There are quieter and slower moments in the second half so it's not quite as pacy but that's down to there being some quieter moments during this period.

This is a very good adaptation of a strong novel, and a fine bit of science fiction for our times as well. And it's worth five stars.

The disc has the following language and subtitle options:

Subtitles; English.

Languages: English.

It begins with a few trailers but you can skip these via the next button on the dvd remote.

This is also a dvd of the kind they hardly make anymore. A two disc edition, the second disc being laden with extras.

Game Maker: A thirteen minute long feature about the origin of the book and it's popularity. Featuring lots of contributions from readers and fans and publishers. Book writer Suzanne Collins is a bit conspicuous by her absence though.

The world is watching: a two hour long making of documetary. This can be watched all at once, or in one of eight shorter sections. These range in length from nine to twenty minutes. This is a great feature for budding film makers as director Gary Ross is an excellent contributor, going into great detail about all sorts of creative choices and matters.

Letters from the Rose Garden: a nine minute long feature about Donald Sutherland and how he got the role of President Snow. It features him reading an email he sent Gary Ross with his thoughts on the character, which is superbly written and very well read. Thus this feature is highly recommended viewing.

Controlling the games; a five minute long feature, with more from Gary Ross, all about the design of the games control room.

A conversation with Gary Ross and Elvis Mitchell. A fifteen minute long chat between the director and a film critic, the latter asking some interesting questions about a few of the issues the movie raises. A lot of the running time of this is simply clips from the film, but the rest is thoughtful viewing.

Propaganda film: a two minute long feature, showing the film that you see in the movie which tells the origin of the Hunger Games.

Marketing archive; two short galleries of all the various posters for the film and stills from it's production.

Great movie. Great extras. Excellent Dvd as a whole.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 24 July 2015
The Hunger Games was supposed to be a controversial film (Lord of the flies, Battle Royale) yet it clearly pulls its punches, and is completely bloodless (controversy lite) typical 12A stuff meant for kids, how has such bland material become a franchise ? The only reason for the second star is the presence of Jennifer Laurence (Winters Bone) a fine actress who'd just have to stand up to improve this film, but even her talent is wasted, in the only one to one catfight she's defeated by Isabelle Fuhrman (Orphan) who's half her size. The Japanese film Battle Royale completely out guns this effort in all departments, Jennifer Laurence should have a great acting career ahead of her but she needs to keep clear of this type of movie even if it does bring her wealth, she could top the actor lists for decades. MPC.
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The Hunger Games is a surprisingly good blockbuster action film with enough going on to make it stand out from the crowd. So let's get the obvious comparisons out of the way. Yes it is very similar to Battle Royale in that a bunch of kids are taken to a remote place and left to fight it out to the death. However Hunger Games takes more time building character and getting the audience to have an emotional connection to its characters than all out action. There certainly is a lot less blood!

The Hunger Games builds its world wonderfully. Capitol City if fully realised and feels alive and vibrant. The lush forest landscape of the arena is also marvellous to just look at. However all this pales in comparison against the actors. Jennifer Lawrence is just fantastic as Katniss Everdean, skilfully walking the thin line between being too moody to connect with and having a strength and vulnerability which gives her some depth. She isn't afraid to throw herself in to the action and shows that she can handle a lead role in a tentpole film with grace and vigour.

She is ably supported by the likes of Lenny Kravitz in an understated part and Woody Harrelson who is clearly loving his crazy, slightly unreliable but ultimatley good, mentor role.

The action comes thick and fast and is handled in such a way that although little blood is shed it still manages to feel brutal and dangerous. Tension is built up well and the film whips along at a good rate. The story itself is fairly redundant with no real shocks, but the characters generally make up for that.

There are some flaws with it though. Peta is sorely underwritten and doesn't persuade you to invest anything in him. Hopefully his character will develop more over the next couple of films. The ending is a bit of a cop out with a change to the rules allowing an escape route for some characters. Also the CGI wolves are just terrible. In a film where the effects are largely practical and subtle the wolves are jarringly ugly and don't fit the aesthetic of the film at all.

Aside from that this is one of the better blockbuster to appear last year. Full of action and adventure with a great turn from Lawrence. The sequel has a lot to live up to. Let's hope it doesn't drop the ball.
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With few decent releases on over Easter, my 16 year old daughter and I succumbed to the hype and went to see The Hunger Games. Not having read the books we went in cold and with hopes fairly high but left slightly non-plussed to be honest.

I found it difficult to engage with the pouty and aloof lead character Katniss, played by the too-old-for-18 Jennifer Lawrence. We were fed small scraps of information regarding her background as the film proceeded but by the end we still only knew that her father was a dead miner, she had a younger sister and was good at shooting squirrels with a bow. Her sector partner Peeta was a nice guy but a charisma free zone and there was a distinct lack of chemistry between them. It was left to Woody Harleson to provide the talent as their eccentric and maverick mentor Haymitch, but we have seen this character from him far too often for it to be novel and entertaining anymore.

The game itself was just ok to be honest but lacking in real tension despite lives at stake and survival at all costs. There were some pretty lethal blades on display but being a 12 rating, the violence was toned down and blurred out which reduced the impact of a group fight to the death. The producers must have deliberated over this as the books were written for teens but I think the average 14 year old would have been a bit bored to be honest and scenes often dragged. I certainly didn't sense much excitement in the cinema audience on our visit.

Outside of the games, things were a bit better with some excellent and far out costumery worn by the "beautiful people" in a kind of modern day Rome meets Dangerous Liaisons but it was a pity that imagination didn't stretch to the anorak-clad contestants' garb who looked like modern day kids on their Duke of Edinburgh scheme. Too much was also made of getting sponsors to like and help the competitors (in the excellent interview parody scenes) only for this thread to play no further part in the plot. Katniss and Peeta were only parachuted in a bowl of soup and some meds from Haymitch himself despite her being rated as an "eleven" in the public X-Factor style build-up. I was hoping for some skulduggery to add twists and turns to the contest but none was forthcoming sadly and the forming of teams was slightly weird in an event that could only have one winner.

Future death match games have been done better before (Running Man/Rollerball etc) and the director was obviously hampered by the 12 rating here but as this is the first in the trilogy I will be interested to see how the plot and characters develop in Catching Fire. Just not on the edge of my seat...
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The story of THE HUNGER GAMES is a great one - set sometime in the future, Katniss Everdeen lives in a world where, every year a Reaping takes place. Each of the twelve districts have to offer up one female and one male tribute to the games, as penance for an uprising against the Capitol. The games are to the death - the last one standing becoming the victor. As I like to do, I read the book before watching the film, and I have to say that although the film is good, the book is far better.

The book is narrated by Katniss, which means that as the reader, we are able to 'see' everything from her perspective. We get to understand her thoughts, feelings, assumptions and reasoning. With a film, of course, the viewer loses this. I think this means that the film loses the development of the other characters; as a viewer, we understand that they are all going to have to either kill or be killed, but their turmoil of having to turn on those they may have developed an alliance with is glossed over. I also felt that the 'romance' between Katniss and Peeta suffered on screen. In the book, this is again a large part of the plot, as Katniss struggles to reconcile pretending romantic feelings just to keep her alive. In the film, although this is highlighted, again it feels as though it has been slightly glossed over.

Having said all of that, I did enjoy the film. I am also looking forward to seeing the second instalment.
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133 of 161 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 4 September 2012
Firstly I have read the books and I loved them. They were brutal, funny, tragic, romantic and heartwrenching. Everything a good adventure novel should be.
So it was I was waiting eagerly for the film. I never got the chance to see it at the cinema; but based on the numerous good reviews I preordered the blu-ray. I really enjoyed the film; but as with many other reviewers I felt that the book was better.
The book spent much more time establishing characters and relationships and I really liked that. Obviously, with the book being in first person, everything was from Katniss' perspective - but that only serves to makes you sympathize with her predicament and those around her more. Her relationships with Peeta and Rue go much deeper in the book and I felt the film foolishly downplayed these moments. Likewise, the other contestants in the games seemed vastly under utilised in the film; and as a result they either became unimportant or impotent. Cato was a fierce and imposing killer in the book - but reduced merely to a brooding bully in the film (albeit one with a sword).
Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed the film and I'm glad I bought it, but I just wish it been a little better. However, I am sure when I watch it again - knowing everything that's changed or omitted - I will enjoy it much more. I felt the same way with Twilight - hated it on first viewing.
I look foward to Catching Fire and Mockingjay!
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on 7 October 2012
For starters I haven't read the books. I have too much of a backlog of books to read that there was no point before the movie came out. I have put them on the end of that backlog now....

I have to admit I didn't expect much from this movie. I have heard mixed reviews and a lot of people (not everyone) that HAD read the books were saying this was pretty bad compared to the books. Not surprising because movies adapted from books rarely are as good as the books. My perception of this movie was that it was going to be aimed at teens (as a 42 yr old the one sure way to put me off a movie is telling me it's cast are mainly teenagers). Many teen movies are sub standard and I've learned to avoid them. This movie though was based on a series of critically acclaimed books so I had to give it a go and I'm glad that I did. It has a brilliant cast (mainly not teens) but a round of applause for Jennifer Lawrence. She was fantastic and as the lead she drove the movie forward was charismatic, mature, sympathetic, exciting ... just plain excellent.

I am glad I got the movie, look forward to the sequels and those books are now on order to fit somewhere at the end of my long backlog (they might jump the queue a bit)....
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