No, this movie isn’t about Somalians sitting around a campfire watching each other get skinnier, waiting for the next one to drop dead from malnutrition.  “The Hunger Games” is about a nation that takes a young man and a young woman from each of the 12 districts and places them in an enclosed area where they fight each other until only 1 survivor remains.  Why?  Those 12 districts, many years ago, waged war against the government.  The 12 districts lost the war, and in order to make the districts remember their actions against the government, each region has to offer 2 of their children as sacrifice to the annual Hunger Games.  Well, it’s more than a remembrance, really.  It’s also a show of power for the government, and a way to entertain the masses who love blood sport.

Jennifer Lawrence ends up having the “honor” of representing District 12 after she volunteers in order to save her younger sister who was the first pick in the lottery.  Lawrence has the better odds of surviving the Games, as she is a hunter, an expert with a bow, and she’s mentally tough.

Lawrence’s counterpart from District 12 is Josh Hutcherson, a guy who works in his parents’ bakery store, and who has a secret crush on Lawrence.  But instead of having the guts to say he likes her, he simply tosses a piece of burned bread to a starving Lawrence as she is cuddled up by a tree during a rainstorm years ago.  Who needs diamonds to say “I love you” when you can use burnt bread?

In the weeks prior to the Games, the “tributes” from each district are treated to lavish meals, expensive clothing (the fashion and hairstyles are grotesque and laughable — like something from a gay man’s LSD trip), and training in fighting and survival tactics.  It’s disturbing to see the disparity in ages, size and ability of the tributes.  Some teens are the size of large men, while others are little girls.  But weapons are available during the Games; and it’s not just about strength.   Intelligence, knowing when to hide or fight, how to build a fire, set traps…they are all part of the fight.  Also, tributes who provide the most entertainment are usually rewarded with gifts from “sponsors” in the form of medicine, soup, weapons, etc.

“The Hunger Games” will probably disturb some people because of the depiction of children fighting to the death.  But keep in mind that the majority of the tributes are played by men and women; and these adult actors are the ones who are given the most gruesome deaths.  As for me, I give no greater weight to a child’s death in movies compared to an adult’s death in movies.   If I don’t care about a character, child or not, I couldn’t care less.  Plus I don’t like kids, anyway.  What?  Kids are our future, you say?  Well, then we’re all f*@!ed, I say, because our future will be littered with people who have lost the art of writing and proper speech; people who are so connected to their electronic devices that they don’t pay attention to what’s happening in front of them, even when they’re driving; people who would rather live in a virtual world than in the real world.  Anyway…

“The Hunger Games” is a solid piece of storytelling that makes a commentary on how a government can control and manipulate the masses through television entertainment.   Case in point: The United States.  How many of you know about the numerous laws passed since the 9/11 attacks that strip you of your civil liberties?  How many of you know who your Congressman is, and how to contact him or her to voice your opinion?  Not many, I’m willing to bet.  How many of you have memorized the offensive line of your state’s football team, or who Justin Bieber is currently dating, or the favorite color of Lady Gaga?  Many, I’m guessing.  Open your eyes, people, and see the prison bars that the government is slowly building around us.

Lawrence knows well how her government controls the people in “The Hunger Games,” and she fights not only the other tributes, but the government itself.  One act of defiance is my most memorable, movie moment.  Spoiler alert!  The government decides that 2 winners (both from the same District) can live, and those two turn out to be Lawrence and Hutcherson.  Then the government says that it changed its mind.  Only 1 winner can survive.  Well, Lawrence refuses to play the game anymore, so she decides to eat poison berries to end her life, and Hutcherson decides to kill himself in the same manner.  It’s a powerful scene.  When one is a slave, freedom can be had through victory or death.  When one person stands up and says “no,” sometimes the entire world hears it.