- Starring: Jennifer Lawrence (X-Men: First Class), Josh Hutcherson (Bridge to Terabithia), and Liam Hemsworth (The Last Song)
- Directed by: Gary Ross
- Synopsis: “Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the evil Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games. A twisted punishment for a past uprising and an ongoing government intimidation tactic, The Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which “Tributes” must fight with one another until one survivor remains. Pitted against highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives, Katniss is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch Abernathy. If she’s ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love. THE HUNGER GAMES is directed by Gary Ross, and produced by Nina Jacobson’s Color Force in tandem with producer Jon Kilik. Suzanne Collins’ best-selling novel, the first in a trilogy published by Scholastic that has over 16 million copies in print in the United States alone, has developed a massive global following.” (Collider)
- Rated: PG-13 for intense violent material involving teens
Back in July, I did a spotlight post on The Hunger Games (before it started getting tons of attention), and, to date, that post is still the Top Viewed post on my site. Once the post started getting a bunch of attention, I knew that The Hunger Games was going to be a big deal. “A Big Deal” is an understatement.
The best-seller book “The Hunger Games” finally makes its way to the big screen after much anticipation. And a big question for fans of the book series is: “How does it compare to the book? Is this going to be an epic book-to-movie translation? or is it going to be an epic disappointment?”
Well, I can’t answer that question for you. haha. I decided to not read the book until AFTER watching the movie. This decision was made mainly because I wanted to enjoy the movie for the first time as simply that…a movie (without trying to critique its interpretation of what was penned in the book). And I am glad I did so. No expectations to be met. But may I say, that many of my friends who had high expectations from reading the book prior also saw this as a fantastic adaptation.
That being said, here is my “non-comparison” review!
The Hunger Games begins with a very telling introduction into the world of the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen of District 12 of Panem. Immediately engrossing you into the film, there is hardly a moment that your attention will be drawn away. The Hunger Games truly keeps you hungry for each upcoming scene as the story unfolds.
There are several amazing elements that comprise this amazing film- Contributing contrasts; Fantastic cast/characters; High level mixture of action, drama, and suspense; and an impressive soundtrack. Here’s a quick look at just a few of these elements and how they worked to make this film a success. But the true strength that makes The Hunger Games a winner is the look/feel, the cast/characters, and the storytelling (riddled with foreboding events leading to the following films).
It is interesting to see the way in which the film paints the stark differences between the two worlds that Katniss embarks through. The cold and impoverished district she calls home versus the colorful, grandiose, and exciting Capitol of Panem is a telling contrast not too easily forgotten. It all adds to the believability of the environment, the events, and the characters.
Speaking of the characters, Wow! What characters! When doing my initial research on the film project, I learned a little bit of what to expect, but it was nowhere near how amazingly well done these characters are shown in the film. From Stanley Tucci and Elizabeth Banks as some of the best scene-stealers in cinematic history in their respective roles; to a rather subdued Woody Harrelson and Donald Sutherland; to Jennifer Lawrence’s flawless performance as Katniss Everdeen; it is the characters and their respective journeys that add an additional sense of awe and wonder to The Hunger Games.
Lawrence could not have done anything better to make Katniss a character worthy of our attention and emotion. For someone who got into acting without taking a single drama class for instruction in acting, Lawrence definitely proves she has what it takes to be believable in carrying the lead role for such an epic series. Her emotional performance will make you do nothing but cheer and feel for her plight! Cannot wait to see the follow-up films!
So many members of the rest of the cast sold their parts so well, no matter how small, that emotions will undoubtedly rise when events take place. Tears, sadness, anger, laughter, excitement, joy, awe, action, and wonder…all good words used to describe the experience you will have when watching The Hunger Games.
The story itself, while under scrutiny for plagiarism (look up the book/film Battle Royale), is one full of familiarity tied with originality. Love, war, power, corruption, self-discovery and acceptance, and more, there is something for every viewer to relate to when watching this film. It leaves you with a well-enough feeling of closure with enough openings leaving you with plenty to look forward to in the coming sequels.
Aside from a rather disconcerting shaky cam used in the first 15-20 minutes of the film (used no doubt to add to the contrast between the poverty-stricken District 12 and the never-wanting capitol), this film receives nothing but high praise from me. And, as far as the box-office is concerned, it looks as if “the odds may be ever in its favor!”
Score: 4 out of 5 stars for The Hunger Games
Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!
–T, The Focused Filmographer