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Kentucky has more than basketball to brag about this week. Two Kentucky natives are starring in the greatly anticipated film “The Hunger Games.”
Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss) is from Louisville and Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) is from Union.
Teenage fans have talked nonstop about the film adaptation of the Suzanne Collins books, but I wonder if they grasp the philosophical applications or the sheer horror of what’s taking place.
The plot of the film is disturbing. The districts, which once led a rebellion, are punished by a ruling authority. Once a year, two teens are drawn from each district to participate in war games. They are then paraded around as heroes for all to watch and cheer for. The winner of the games is rewarded with help for their impoverished district.
But there can be only one winner and by winner I mean survivor. The children, some as young as 12, have to try to kill one another until only one is left alive, all while the world watches the blood sport in a very warped reality television show.
If you are thinking “The Lord of the Flies” meets “The Running Man” you’re getting close to the plot.
I left the film disturbed. This is a very popular book series that many have recommended to me, but few comment about the disturbing nature of the content, children killing children.
One scene in particular haunted me as I left the theater. When participants first are brought to the game arena, it’s a free-for-all and many viciously attack and kill each other.
If the point of this plot line is to make viewers leave disturbed, then it did its job. Philosophically, it explores how reality television creates a warped fan base to cheer on the victor. The question remains: Will reality television ever go this far, a gladiator type of entertainment?
It also begs another question: Has society become so desensitized to violence that a story such as “The Hunger Games” does not bother us?
It doesn't seem to bother many teens.
Over the weekend when I asked several teens if they liked the movie, most of their answers had to do with what may have been left out of the film or how attractive the two male stars are. When I asked them if the story of people their age killing each other to win bothered them, few gave it a second thought.
It also contains some classic sci-fi elements dealing with a grim futurist society with “big brother” control.
As a film, “The Hunger Games” is a much better adaptation than the “Twilight” saga. It is a quality film directed by Gary Ross (“Seabiscuit”) and featuring Lawrence (“Winter’s Bone”) both previously nominated for Oscars. I believe the direction and casting of quality actors created a better movie than previous teen-followed books made into movies. Stanley Tucci (“Captain America”), Elizabeth Banks (“Man on a Ledge”), Donald Sutherland (“M*A*S*H”) and Woody Harrelson (“Friends with Benefits”) are anchors for their younger cast mates.
Liam Hemsworth (“The Last Song” and younger brother to Chris Hemsworth who played “Thor”) and Hutcherson (“Journey 2: The Mysterious Island) also give good performances.
Rocker Lenny Kravitz also makes an appearance.
I left the film wanting to know what happened next, which means I cared enough about these characters to want to see how their lives play out in the remaining two books. This is a result of good performances.
But I also left the movie with an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach, wondering if it is right to be entertained by what I saw.
My challenge, especially to teens, is to care more about what’s happening in this film as a whole and less about the teenage romance of Katniss and Peeta that develops during the games.
Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741. For movie reviews visit her reporter page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Becca-Owsley/96924584861.