Three Reasons Why ‘The Hunger Games’ Is One of the Most Important Films of 2012

There’s no stopping the Hunger Games steamroller.

The film adaptation of Suzanne Collins‘ widely popular young adult fiction lords the box office for the third consecutive week, raking in $33.5US million in addition to its already cool $426US million sales since its opening week.

Certainly, the odds are definitely in the favor of The Hunger Games. But whether its success is sheer coincidence or a premeditated plan, the film has already laid the groundwork for another successful franchise in the annals of Hollywood films.

Aside from its record-shattering first week, which saw the film rake in $211.8US million – the highest opening week for a movie not released during the summer (the previous distinction belonged to 2010’s Alice in Wonderland at $210.1US million) – The Hunger Games has a lot more going to it than just breaking bank.

The star-in-the-making performance of Jennifer Lawrence.Prior to the opening of the movie, casual moviegoers may not be familiar with Lawrence, who plays the female protagonist Katniss Everdeen in the film. Even a quick look at her rather less than prolific filmography and it’s easy to dismiss her as one of those actresses favored by producers because her anonymity makes her cheap commodity to offset the bloated production costs.

However, it’s also easy to overlook the fact that, just this past year’s Academy Awards, she was nominated for the Best Actress category in her gripping performance  as a daughter of a catatonic mother in 2010’s independent film Winter’s Bone.

A nod from the most prestigious award-giving body in film costs more than cents, mind you.

Lawrence’s abilities to command presence on screen and embody the struggles demanded from her role as seen from Winter’s Bone fits perfectly in The Hunger Games, where Katniss is forced to participate in a game in which survival is the only option.

While critical reviews of the film were generally positive, it was Lawrence’s performance that received praise. Among the many reviews, Peter Travers from The Rolling Stone offers his accurate sentiments towards Jennifer Lawrence, the actress:

Lawrence reveals a physical and emotional grace that’s astonishing. Give her the deed, because she owns this movie. It’s not just that Katniss makes Twilight’s Bella Swan look like the wimp she is, it’s that Lawrence, 21, is an acting dynamo with the skills to let us into Katniss’ searching mind…My advice is to keep your eyes on Lawrence, who turns the movie into a victory by presenting a heroine propelled by principle. She makes Katniss revolutionary.

The Hunger Games

With the roll she has been riding, expect Lawrence to receive lucrative and challenging roles in the near future than would make her an Oscar winner in the process.

The breakthrough of Josh Hutcherson. The guy who played Peeta Mellark in the movie has been in the  industry for so long that you may have seen one of his many films – the family-friendly Zathura, the heart-wrenching The Bridge to Terabithia, and either from the campy The Journey to the Center of the Earth franchise, to name a few.

In case you’ve seen the films but failed to identify Hutcherson as part of the cast, don’t worry. Despite playing the lead characters on the aforementioned films, he neither possesses the look nor the superb acting chops that gets you noticed in the business.

However, a person will eventually reap what he or she sows, as the saying goes. After paying his dues as an actor since the age of 10, he is rewarded a role of a lifetime, playing the love interest of Katniss in Hunger Games.

Similar to Lawrence, Hutcherson needed a bigger stage to showcase his acting skills and receive recognition. Due to his believable performance as a love-struck hero who finds himself underneath Katniss’ shadow, he won CinemaCon’s 2012 Breakthrough Performer of the Year and NewNowNext’s Next Mega Star awards. Not bad.

The glorification of reality television by society.  Regardless of whether you like reality television or not, its novelty lies in how its cast reacts towards certain situations without following a script. Assuming that what we see on TV is real, the genuine emotion shown in one of these gimmicky shows captures an untamed spirit that even Daniel Day Lewis or Meryl Streep, at their peak, would find difficult to emulate.

It is this very characteristic of reality television that The Hunger Games is criticizing in its story.

Although reality television, in general, is irreparably dumb and bound to waste your time, they at least have an interesting premise that draws viewers into the shows. Some are goldmines in terms of offering alternative programming on the boob tube (Survivor, The Amazing Race) while most scrape the bottom of the barrel and manufacture the reality part of it to make the show watchable at the very least (Keeping Up with The Kardashians, Jersey Shore).

The latter is an example of how worse television has gotten since its inception – the shows feed on the mindlessness and irrational love of the masses for mediocrity that plagues society. While I personally do not hate reality television as a viewing genre, I do feel that it is used incorrectly as it gravitates to the less compelling values found in television.

In a way, the Games, used by the Capitol as a device to supplant further uprising from the 12 districts, serve as opium for the masses – a mindless drug that satisfies the selfishness of people that holds hegemony in society. The way that the Games are celebrated is similar to how the public make a big spectacle out of American Idol, especially during its first few seasons. (Again, not that it’s a bad show, but is it deserving of that much attention?)

It has come to a point that reality television has become much more ruthless in delivering crass content to viewers and is becoming no different to the mindless killings shown on the Games. Somehow, in some way, shape, or form, reality television has got to stop, or at least mend its ways.

How about you, dear reader? What do you think makes the film important? Or it is just one of those run-of-the-mill young adult flicks that are no different to the reality television it criticizes? Feel free to comment below. But before you do that, may luck be ever in your favor.