Bentley's Review of The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games(2012)
Director Gary Ross brings Suzanne Collins' bestselling dystopian novel, The Hunger Games, to the silver screen in this thrilling adaptation. I'm one of the last few people at my school to jump on The Hunger Games bandwagon. I purchased the novel because the premise sparked so much interest in me. When I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. Collins is such a great writer and her storytelling is gripping. I finished the novel just in time to see the film on opening weekend.
The Hunger Games is set in a nation called Panem, which was built on the ruins of North America. Every year, the Capitol selects one boy and one girl from each of Panem's twelve districts to compete in the Hunger Games. No, it's not an eating contest. Instead, it's a battle to the death where only one will survive. When Katniss Everdeen, a girl from District 12, witnesses her little sister get chosen for the Games, she decides to take her place. Katniss, along with District 12's male representative, Peeta Mellark, set off to the Capitol to prepare for the games. With the help of Haymitch Abernathy and Effie Trinket, Katniss and Peeta learn to become celebrities. Once she enters the arena, Katniss must fight to survive.
If you haven't read the novel, I suggest you pick it up. It's worth reading. The Hunger Games was sort of a tricky source material to adapt to film. The book is written in a first-person narrative and they had to tone down the violence in order to warrant a PG-13 rating. I seriously didn't think the book was as gruesome as many people made out to be. It is a pretty violent novel and one of the things I was worried about walking into the movie was how violent the film would be. Is it violent? Yes. There were some scenes that I found a little disturbing. I appreciated Gary Ross' direction. It showed his admiration and interest for the story. Since the scenes that take place during the games are told through Katniss' perspective in the book, the film gives you the feeling that you are watching the games at home. Every few minutes, Caesar Flickerman, a media personality in the film's universe, gives you updates and comments on what's going on the games. It's like you're watching futuristic ESPN. The film was well edited and nicely paced. The first few minutes know how to introduce the story to someone who hasn't read the novel. Some people are complaining about the shaky camera work. It didn't affect me. I thought the camerawork was overall good.
As I mentioned above, The Hunger Games is tricky source material. Suzanne Collins helped out on the screenplay, but I would have loved to see someone do the screenplay without the author's assistance. It would be quite the challenge. The script is well written. There are a lot of dramatic scenes and a couple of funny ones. When there was humor, it was done well. The performances in this film are very good. Oscar-nominated Jennifer Lawrence gives a strong performance as Katniss. She makes the character believable and likable. I heard that she was a fan of the series before she landed the part. My sister heard from a friend that when her agent told her she got the role of Katniss, she was worried. She felt they were going to screw up with the movie. From this, I learned that Jennifer Lawrence knew a lot about the character. I believe this helped her portray Katniss well. She was a strong female lead. I thought Josh Hutcherson was pretty good as Peeta and so was Liam Hemsworth as Gale. They must have been familiar with the characters they played.
The young cast were backed up by experienced actors. I thought Stanley Tucci and Woody Harrelson were perfect casting choices. They were responsible for some of the film's comedic moments. Woody Harrelson plays the alcoholic Haymitch Abernathy. He can play a darn good drunkard. I've only seen three films with Stanley Tucci (The Lovely Bones, Captain America, this) and I've come to realize that he is a really good actor. He portrays Caesar Flickerman. He's like the Regis Philbin of Panem. He was funny, entertaining, and a little over the top. Elizabeth Banks plays the flamboyantly-dressed Effie Trinket. Just wait. Effie Trinket will be a popular Halloween costume and Cosplay item. I thought she was very entertaining and I liked how she played the character. She looked like a mix between Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter, The Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland, and Pris from Blade Runner. I liked it. Elizabeth Banks looked strangely hot. Lenny Kravitz did a pretty good performance and the same thing goes for that Jason Schwartzman lookalike that played The Gamemaker. This was produced on a budget of $100 million which isn't a whole lot to compared to how much Hollywood spends on their blockbusters. They spend up to $200-300 million dollars on CGI-crammed films. The special effects were awesome for their budget. The Capitol looked amazing and the style the people wore were so over the top. The futuristic technology was also cool.
I like the ending in the movie more than the novel. They are the same thing but the play out a little differently. The novel opens the door for sequels while the movie's ending feels complete and omits a cliffhanger. If the Catching Fire movie doesn't get made, the story would feel complete. In the end, I prefer the novel. The Hunger Games was still a solid adaptation of the popular novel. I'm happy that it's making a killing (No pun intended.) at the box office. Since I'm like the last to jump on this bandwagon, I was worried about seeing the movie. I imagined myself feeling lost among other teenage fanatics. I liked the crowd I went to see it with. They were mostly adults and teens who looked like that they were seniors in high school or in college. Was it worth seeing in IMAX? Nope. I saw it in IMAX Digital and it was disappointing. I know it wasn't shot in IMAX, but the film didn't fill up the whole screen. In fact, the screen was not that big. Trust me, 70mm IMAX is where it's at! It was still awesome to see The Avengers and Prometheus trailers in IMAX. I found The Hunger Games to be a well-made production. The direction and acting were my favorite aspects. The novel is better in my opinion, but this film was epic. Bring on Catching Fire!
"It's the only thing I know how to do, bringing pride to my district."