The Hunger Games
Directed by Gary Ross
Based on the story by Suzanne Collins
Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Donald Sutherland
Despite its lavish spectacle, The Hunger Games is surprisingly subdued – in a good way – for a Hollywood entertainment of its scale. Director Gary Ross would like this dystopic tale to be a character-driven film, and he has cast terrific actors accordingly and for the most part (although the teenage boy leads are pretty interchangeable).
But the plot and concept rule here, and even Jennifer Lawrence can’t overwhelm the cynical vision of a world – not so unlike our own – in which reality TV is taken to its most logical and absurd extreme, engaged in the service of national ritual, like some perverted fusion of Nazism and Christianity.
It’s a heavy load for a film this light to bear, and a lot to ask of Lawrence along the way, but to the length that the film and Lawrence succeed – along with the likes of a very human Lenny Kravitz, a very evil Donald Sutherland, and a very weird Stanley Tucci and Elizabeth Banks – it delivers what it promises.