It's far from a flawless piece of work -- not exactly brilliantly shot, and with some skids in the pacing. Nevertheless! Boy, did it make my revolutionary heart pound!
And it had some nice moments, too. The character of Haymitch was one of my favorites in the book; Suzanne Collins did a great job developing the drunk ex-winner/survivor-now-mentor of new tributes, and Woody Harrelson plays him well. The minute at the dinner table when he glances from Peeta to Katniss and realizes that this year he might have a chance of bringing a kid home alive is just so nice.
And when Katniss volunteers to take Prim's place, and her district raises its hands in salute to her -- how that sets up, so perfectly, her raising her hand in salute to those in District 11, whom she can't even see. Wow.
And the scene at the end with the crystal bowl full of berries. Deliciously evil.
I took my kid to see it, and she loved it, too (probably even more than I did ), though she had to hide under my arm for the very violent bits (and there are some very violent bits).
On the way home, she asked me, and here is why I like the movie so much, "What if that happens? What if our country starts doing that?"
"Seriously?" I asked her. "You know science fiction is mythic, right? Do I need to give you that rant again?"
"No," she said. "No, no, no, no, please don't."
A brief pause, as we drove.
"But seriously," I said.
"Mythic means it's not about the real world."
"Mythic means it's a metaphor which will help us think about the real world."
By this time my kid is sighing and slumping against the car window. But she is listening, too, because she's that kind of kid.
"That means Suzanne Collins is already telling us about the real world," I explain. "No, it's not going to be like Theseus and the King of Crete*. We've already got the hunger games, going on right now. What else is it, when my students have to join the military to get health care, or pay for college, or feed their kids? Sure, it's not last-man-standing, but it's their lives on the line anyway. What do you call it when people have to sell their futures to have any hope of a decent life? While Cheney and his friends make billions off the deal?"
"Only it's not on TV," she said dubiously.
"Right," I agreed. "They keep that part off TV now, the death part. They've gotten a little smarter since Viet Nam. Winter's Bone," I said. "That's the other movie Jennifer Lawrence was in. It makes very nearly the same point, in an entirely different way. Ree, her character in that, she's planning to join the Army. That's how she's going to keep her brother and sister fed. How they're going to stay alive. That's the choice we give our citizens these days. If you weren't lucky enough to be born among the 1%, what are your options? Sell drugs, starve slowly, join the military, or hope you can win the lottery**."
"So we need a revolution," she said, knowing how all my rants end.
I sighed, and slowed down before we got to the first of the speed traps which is how, apparently, Fort Smith is funding its police force these days. "So we need something to change," I agreed. "Let's hope it doesn't come to straight up revolution. No one really wants that."
"Not even you?"
*Which, by the way? Everyone who says Collins is stealing from Running Man or Battle Royale? Shut up, because both of those stole it from Theseus and the Minotaur, who probably got it from some other guy, and look up archetypal time, will you?
**Sell a novel, sell a screenplay, invent an iPad, win Dancing with the Stars, whatever. How many people are going to do that, out of 400,000 Americans? 28?