Two Jews on Film - By Joan Alperin Schwartz: I'm sure by now almost everyone is familiar with the story of 'The Hunger Games.' The book was the first in a trilogy written by Suzanne Collins and all three novels have been on the bestseller list for several years.
But for those people unfamiliar with the story of Katniss Everdeen, the 16 year old girl who competes in The Hunger Games, the time is the future.
North America is no more. Instead we have a nation known as Panem which is broken down into 12 districts. These districts exist to provide goods for the wealthy people living in the Capitol. The Capitol is run by a heartless dictator, President Snow (Donald Sutherland). His only goal is to keep the people of the districts in line… aka enslaved.
Apparently 75 years ago, give or take, the districts rebelled and as a punishment, the powers to be got the brilliant idea to create...The Hunger Games.
Every year, on Reaping Day, the 12 districts are forced to hold a lottery where they pick two teenagers who must fight to their death until only one remains. These teenagers are known as 'Tributes.'
Think 'Survivor' meets 'Gladiator.'
When Katniss Everdeen's (Jennifer Lawrence) younger sister Primrose (Willow Shields) is picked for the games, Katniss volunteers to take her sister's place.
Instantly, she and her new co-Tribute, the baker's son Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) are whisked to the Capitol. Once there, they are thrown into a glamorous world which includes a total makeover, new 'do,' new wardrobe, lots of delicious food, a luxurious hotel suite and hours of grueling training (how else does one become a warrior).
Most importantly, they appear on live TV where Katniss and the other 'Tributes' introduce themselves to their public/potential sponsors. Sponsors are very cool to have because they'll send you stuff during the game that could save your life.
All that said, 'The Hunger Games' is the story of one girl who must try to survive using her sheer wits and in the process, she comes to realize, that there is more to fight for than just herself.
Jennifer Lawrence is the perfect choice to play Katniss. She embraces Katniss' strengths, her fears and in the end, her heart.
As I mentioned in our video, my only criticism of the film has to do with the fighting scenes. I think in going for a PG rating. The director Gary Ross edited them in such a way that you can't tell who's fighting who and by making the battles for the most part bloodless. It takes away some of the emotion and sense of horror that we'd experience watching teenagers fight to their death.
But I'm sure that 'The Hunger Games' will not disappoint fans of the book as well as those who haven't read it.
The supporting cast is excellent. Standouts are Woody Harrelson as the rarely sober Haymitch. The victor of the 50th Hunger Games and now mentor to Katniss and Peeta; Elizabeth Banks (Effie) the Escort/PR handler, Stanley Tucci (Caesar), TV host and probing official interviewer and Wes Bentley (Senecca) the appointed Game-maker who has the power of life and death over the 24 young Tributes.
I gave 'The Hunger Games' which opens in theatres Friday, March 23, 2012, 4 out of 5 bagels. Check out our video to see John's thoughts and find out how many bagels he gave this excellent film.