REVIEW: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
Directed by: Gary Ross
Written by: Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins and Billy Rae (screenplay), Suzanne Collins (book)
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrelson

The biggest asset The Hunger Games has in both the book and the movie is its insistence on making you think about war as a meaningless, almost ritualistic sacrifice of a country’s youth.  As many are likely aware by now, it is the story of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), a gritty young woman raised in the poverty of a dystopian future.

She is chosen along with a young male tribute (Josh Hutcherson) to represent her district, District 12, in the country’s annual Hunger Games “celebration.”  This consists of 22 other tweens and teens being thrown into an arena and fighting to the death.  The winner returns a war hero, a champion lauded with spoils and congratulated for being turned from child to murderous shell.

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ARCHIVE REVIEW: Battle Royale

Battle Royale
Directed by: Kinji Fukasaku
Written by: Kenta Fukasaku (screenplay), Koushun Takami (novel)
Starring: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda, Chiaki Kuriyama, and Reiko Kataoka

The age old question “What would you do to stay alive?”  has been explored to death.  A unique take on an old adage is always welcome, and Kinji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale hoped to deliver that.  Does it succeed?  Kind of.

In a futuristic vision of Japan, the children are too unruly.  So, a classroom of 40 children is selected at random each year to partake in a brutal three day free-for-all on an island until only one remains.  If more than one remains, the collars placed around their necks will detonate.  Then the survivor returns to the country, striking fear into the others with their stories of the horror.

This is a film that could be analyzed to death by philosophers and historians as to what exactly it means in the context of Japanese history.  Is it an allegory to Japan’s involvement in World War II?  Is it a statement about individualism in a country that is notoriously solidified and stubborn in combat?  It’s both, and they kind of mesh, which is why the film could be looked at so deeply.

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