The Hunger Games Movie Review: Face of Hope Amidst Post-Apocalyptic Dystopia

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Have you ever imagined being in the ruins of a community, after surviving the occurrence of the much-feared apocalypse, where you dread for your life in every coming year? You look at your surrounding and all you see are people, of different ages, stricken of hunger, impoverishment and sickness. This is how it looks like in the twelve isolated districts of Panem, where citizens live in utter dystopia, denied of supplication from its totalitarian government. And what’s worse, all its youth, males and females are subdued in the probable misfortune of playing in The Hunger Games.

♦ The Movie Summary ♦

The Hunger Games - Official Trailer (HD) [Video Credit: Gary Ross via BitLanders]

The Capitol and the Twelve Districts of Panem

In North America, the apocalypse birthed a new nation, called Panem, out of its surviving population. It has two prominent divisions, the Capitol – where the wealthy and fortunate ones live, including the government, and the twelve districts – where the otherwise thrive. Unknown time ago, in the past, there happened an uprising against the Capitol from the twelve districts which failed to succeed. As a result and punishment, each year, all twelve districts are decreed to select two tributes from its youth – a boy and a girl – to enter the infamous, national television show known as The Hunger Games.

As a mechanic, all tributes from the twelve districts enter an artificial arena of computer-simulated environment after a series of physical and mental training. In there, each of them must battle each other and survive natural adversaries until one lone victor emerges. Only one tribute stays alive and wins the game, while the rest are defeated to death. During the selection of tributes for the 74th Annual Hunger Games, a young girl in District 12 presents herself instead after her younger sister was chosen by draw lot.

The Hunger Games Movie Poster [Photo Credit: IMDb]

The 74th Annual Hunger Games

A first in the history of her district, Katniss Everdeen left shock among her fellowmen when she emotionally stopped her younger sister Prim from walking up the stage, and volunteered to be a tribute in Prim’s place. Together with her fellow male tribute, Peeta Mellark, Katniss travels to the Capitol to train and finally compete in the game. In the way, they were escorted by Effie Trinket, the same host during the selection, as their chaperone, and Haymitch Abernathy, a former tribute and lone survivor, as their mentor.

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen [Photo Credit: IMDb]

During their first encounter, both tributes demanded mentorship from Haymitch, who seemed not to pay attention and take them seriously. When Katniss finally expressed dismay and eagerness by stabbing a knife intentionally so close but missing his hands, Haymitch gave out one rather important thing she and Peeta would need to increase their potential in winning – sponsors. During the game, a sponsor can send out “gifts” which they can use to further survive in the game. And so, they must do everything to win hearts of sponsors.

Jennifer Lawrence and Elizabeth Banks [Photo Credit: IMDb]

◙ Peeta's Public Confession to Katniss

Katniss and Peeta, along with twenty two other tributes from the rest of the districts, enter the training which lasted for a couple of days. During an activity where every tribute can showcase their best skill, Katniss made a mark on the sponsors' minds when she shot an arrow right through an apple to get their once lost attention. Earlier, she missed a shot at her target's bull's eye which made for a laughingstock to the sponsors. 

The Tributes [Photo Credit: IMDb]

In a live and televised interview before the games commence, Peeta confessed his feelings for Katniss which drew wild reaction from the audience. The latter, thinking it was a disguised act to attract sponsors, got furious and stormed out at him after his turn. She later on found out his admiration is genuine.

Then came the day for the much-awaited game, and right off the bat half of the tributes died. Katniss was the target of the alliance volunteer tributes from Districts 1 and 2 made. But she used her hunting skills and her sharp instinct to outsmart them, surviving the coming days.

Along the way, she met an ally in Rue, one of the tributes from District 11, after the latter saved her from passing out due to wasp stings. Unfortunately, she died while trying to distract the enemies as Katniss blew their supplies stockpiled and surrounded by planted bombs. This caused severe riot in the 11th District.

Katniss During The Hunger Games [Photo Credit: IMDb]

◙ The Game Changer - Crown for Co-victors

Katniss found Peeta, who had previously pretended to be an ally to the tributes of the 1st and 2nd district. Then Seneca Crane, the Head Gamemaker, announced a huge turnaround in the game. Two survivors can be named co-victors for as long as they are from the same district, revoking the standard rule of crowning a lone victor. The two tributes engaged in acts which show their supposed love for each other, manipulating viewers to root for them.

As a finale, Seneca ordered to unleash computer-generated, doglike beasts to chase the remaining tributes. Thresh, from District 11, was the first to get killed. Into the Cornucopia’s roof, all three remaining, including 2nd District’s Cato, were chased by the beasts. They got in a bout, Katniss and Peeta teaming up as allies. They were able to outdo Cato with Katniss’ arrow and Peeta’s strength, and the last tribute to die from District 2 got devoured by the wild beasts.

◙ Katniss' Act of Defiance

Just as when the two were about to celebrate, Seneca announced yet another turnaround in the game. The latest imposed rule was to be revoked and the original rule should be reinstated that only one victor would be crowned. Peeta urged Katniss to shoot him with her arrow, but Katniss declined, handing Peeta half of the nightlocks she kept. When they were both about to eat the poisonous berries, Seneca panickingly declared to repeal the latest announcement, and introduced the two victors of the game.


President Snow [Photo Credit: IMDb]

After the game has ceased, Haymitch warned Katniss of her act that could be interpreted by the government, most especially President Snow, as an act of defiance. According to him, although unintentional, Katniss did not only bring possible danger to herself, but to the rest of the districts as well.

♦ Gary Ross' The Hunger Games - A Book Adaptation ♦

Gary Ross' masterpiece is based from the bestselling novel of Suzanne Collins which sold millions of copies from US alone. During one interview, Ross professed his admiration of Collins and her work, saying it was intelligent, had so much to say, and was so relevant.

What I loved about Suzanne’s novel was that it was so intelligent, had so much to say, was so relevant.

• From Bestselling Novel

And I agree. Not far different from what was told in the movie, Collins' book offered many ideas relevant to our today's state, in politics and in ethics, that were presented powerfully in words.

As such, some people, including myself, would fret if a movie adaptation can do justice to the novel it portrays. I have seen a couple of movies myself where I have read the book they were based from, and I can say more than half of them disappointed. It is tantamount to having a great movie to be followed by a sequel, or a prequel, and you just think, nah. It just doesn't work.

Suzanne Collins [Photo Credit:  Kosmas]

But Ross' take at The Hunger Games is different. Although different from the storytelling in the book, the movie did it justice by reinventing and retooling it into something of similar say and relevance that is worth and fit for cinematic presentation. You don't have to "must read" the novel to get a full grasp of the movie plot. Before proceeding, let us take time to get to know our own taste for movies by answering the querlo chat below.

"What kind of movies do you like?"

• No Voiceover Narration

One evident difference in the approach of the film is that it diverted from a supposedly expected narration by voiceover. Throughout the film, there was no point where Katniss voiceovered her inner dialogue. Whereas, in the book, it is protagonist-centered, all written in her first-person point of view.

Which I thought was brilliant. When you go to theaters to see a book adaptation you have read, you expect things you knew of the book. And Gary Ross put a whisk of surprise element to eliminate voiceover, or expected inner dialogue.


Gary Ross [Photo Credit: Vanity Fair]

But narration was not absent in the film. I am not talking about the written introduction of the history of Panem in the beginning of the film. I am pertaining to the series of shots and sequences used by Ross to narrate what it is like in District 12, in the Capitol, and in the Hunger Games. The viewers get a full, firsthand point of view of what had happened and what is happening in the story.

• Gary Ross as Director

I was skimming at Ross' filmography as part of my drafting routine for creating a movie review. And I was a bit shock to discover I don't remember remembering any of his movies. It is unfortunate of me to have missed this kind of directorial brilliance. And he is an intelligent scriptwriter, too.

 I work for the movie, but where the movie becomes more important than you, it’s not about me anymore, it’s about conveying an idea that I find powerful.

One more thing I loved about his direction is his attitude. To step into a book with an established huge and wide readership, it is quite a challenge, or more likely a pressure, to put your own approach. But Ross took it as an opportunity to work onto something he really loves and enjoys. In the same interview, he mentioned, and I quote, "'s not about me anymore. It's about conveying an idea that I find powerful."

♦ Ideals of the Film ♦

The movie centers on the journey of its protagonist, Katniss, from her unfortunate life being part of one of the districts of Panem, to one that is far worse when she needed to volunteer as tribute for the 74th Annual Hunger Games.

It had been mentioned that the film revolves around politics, ethics and morale. Here I have dissected every ideal I saw watching the film.

(1) Women Empowerment

In the movie, although both Katniss and Peeta emerged as co-victors, it could be clearly seen that Katniss led both of them to win. Using her smartness and instinct, aside from her physical hunting skills, she was able to manipulate the game unknowingly to be on her favor.


Jennifer Lawrence with Josh Hutcherson [Photo Credit: IMDb]

Katniss was portrayed as a strong and empowered woman eventhough young. She sacrificed herself for her younger sister, survived the first parts of the game without an ally, and saved Peeta until the end.

It is not common in Hollywood to produce a female led movie with a huge budget. That is the reason why gender discrimination is still an unending controversy in showbusiness. I still remember how Patricia Arquette bravely stood up against it, but still much bigger portion of the population of production companies remain unawake.

But Jennifer Lawrence did Katniss so great. I barely knew her before the movie, and this to me was her breakout role.

(2) Gender Equality

The Hunger Games is not just about women empowerment. What I also love about it is that it shows no gender bias.

Atypical to the current state in our society, the movie features potential victors and threatening characters in guise of both a male and a female personae. One would notice too that in the movie, not only Katniss did all the saving, but she was also saved many times by different characters of both genders.

(3) Equity

Equity, in the movie, is portrayed through its absence. There is no equity that can be seen anywhere. All the wealth, food, clothing were concentrated in the Capitol, while almost none was left for the people in the districts.


District 12 During Reaping [Photo Credit:]

In the districts, one had to hunt for food, or else he'd be dead in no time. One had to learn how to earn for a living in a place where there are no resources. And then, in the Capitol, no one dies of hunger. In fact, many scenes showed people either eating or drinking. They are all dressed overly extravagant.

(4) Oppression and Totalitarianism

Aside from being isolated, all districts are forced to offer two tributes, young and of different genders, to kill or get killed. This started after a failed uprising took place in the past. The annual hunger games is held as government's way to remind everyone of its supposed generosity and forgiveness. But in truth, it is their way to remind people from all the districts of the government's punishment, and a tactic to continuously intimidate them to refrain from rebellious attempts.

(5) Showbusiness Cruelty

It is very evident in the movie how Katniss pushed herself to pretend she is in love with Peeta. This is caused by the nature and vogue of the game.

This is parallel to the real life showbusiness. Isn't it true that many celebrities do things, even though not in their own true discretion, in the name of publicity?

♦ Movie Relevance and Realistic Parallels ♦

It is not hard for someone to see the parallelism of the movie in real life. For instance, the sociopolitical allegory in the book is as inherent in the film. People from the Capitol have lived their life of extreme excess in wealth and riches that it morphed them to grotesquerie. Absurd, yet considered fancy by the general public.

Another one is the concept of survival of the fittest. Although portrayed horrific in the film, this concept further radiates into an important ethical and moral allegory. Survival, as depicted in the movie, doesn't only mean being physical nor emotional fit. It also demands humanity. How Katniss preserved her humanity inspite the horrors of the game and the cruelty of the Capitol played a big part in communicating the film's powerful message.

Other parallels that can be extracted from the movie include:

  • Poverty and hunger
  • Greed and Lust
  • Defiance and Rebellion

The Hunger Games - Opening Ceremony in HD [Video Credit: The Hunger Games via YouTube]

♦ Pertinent Blogs and Good Reads ♦

On a final note, The Hunger Games is a brilliant movie based from a great novel. I hope not to miss any point that I like to convey about the movie in this blog.

As part of building a much stronger perception of the movie, I'd like to leave a couple of blogs made by our fellows in Bitlanders. Here are some of them:

1. The Hunger Games: A Game You Don't Want to Play by jean-beltran
2. The Hunger Games Review and Katniss Everdeen's Role as Smasher of Gender Stereotypes about Women by Harrishereee

There are also intelligent and creative analysis of The Hunger Games from well known movie critics. Please refer to the list below.

1. The Hunger Games Movie Review by Olly Richards of Empire Online
2. The Hunger Games Movie Review by Bob Hoose of Plugged In
3. The Hunger Games Review by Ben Kendrick of Screen Rant

For more of my previous reviews, check below links for the blogs I made for the BitLanders Film Series:

1. Enchanted Movie Review
2. Red Sparrow Movie Review
3. Frozen Movie Review

How about you? Have you seen The Hunger Games already? What do you think of the movie? Let us know! Blog for BitLanders Film Series to support women empowerment and earn additional bonus rewards! Take note, this is only until November 4! Meanwhile, you may answer this querlo chat to let us know if you do support women empowerment.

"Do you support women's empowerment?"


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