Life imitates art and, invariably, art imitates life and the cycle continues. In 1982 Stephen King published an early novel he had written while he was still in high school as a paperback original under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. In 1987, this book was adapted into a film starring Arnold Schwarzenneger called The Running Man (also the title of the novel). The Running Man told the story of a sort of reality game show where prisoners are forced to outrun gladiators or die trying. Two decades after the novel was published, the idea of reality game shows was, in itself, a reality with television shows like Survivor, American Idol and, God help me I can't make this up, The Real Gilligan's Island. These games don't involve prisoners and are a competition for money, not life and death, but hey, it's fiction, right? Now, art once again imitates life with The Hunger Games, also, ironically enough, based on a novel.
The Hunger Games takes place in a dystopian future where the US is gone, replaced by a new nation called Panem, ruled by a rich elite leaving everyone else poor and subjugated, basically reverting back to everything our forefathers left England to get away from. Apparently, Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi's future is alive and well in Panem, though this was most likely unintentional. But I digress. Anyhoo, in the movie, once a year they have The Hunger Games, a televised event where a group of 24 commoners are left in the woods to fend for themselves, hungry and being hunted by other competitors. Their only goal: to survive!
I enjoyed this movie immensely. It is extremely easy to get lost in the story and the characters. The acting is superb in every scene, from newcomers and veterans alike, and there is even an appearance by 90's soul rocker Lenny Kravitz. The director did have a tendency to move the camera around a lot, shakily, when there wasn't anything exciting happening, which tended to diminish the effect when there was exciting stuff going on. That was kind of unfortunate, but I understand that the director was going for a hand-held reality television sort of feel, so it's more than forgivable. Despite any shortcomings one may find, which aren't many, The Hunger Games certainly has the potential to be one of this year's most talked about, and most profitable, films. Highly recommended.