The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games gives audiences a feast
The Hunger Games, also referred to as ‘that movie everyone except me saw opening night’ and ‘Twilight done right’, managed to live up to its hype as the next pop culture craze taking over America.
Starring fairly-newcomers Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, the picture wowed audiences and even sated the appetites of normally unquenchable book-to-movie diehard fans.
Lawrence plays Katniss Everdeen, a rebellious and sneaky heroine who volunteers to compete in the yearly Hunger Games in place of her sister. Set in a dystopian North America of the far future, their government, the Capitol (think Big Brother mixed with Fashion Runway) hosts the Hunger Games once a year, in which twenty-four randomly selected children must fight to the death on live television.
Katniss travels with fellow District 12 ‘tribute’ Peeta Mellark (Hutcherson) to the Capitol, where the two prepare for the Games. Their relationship is strained under the looming prospect that only one can survive the Games, but they become close in spite of this.
Though the script focuses solely on Lawrence and her remarkable performance up to this point, I found myself rooting for a Peeta Mellark victory by the end of the train ride there. Anyone worried about Hutcherson (whose past roles include the lackluster Bridge to Terabithia and Journey to the Center of the Earth) can breathe a sigh of relief; Hutcherson nails it. I felt a huge amount of respect for him and his character within his first few minutes of screen time, a feat made even more remarkable by the fact he shared scenes with the eccentric Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks).
Shortly after the pre-Game ceremonies, which include an ancient Greece-styled fashion walk and showing off deadly talents (Katniss snags the highest score after nearly decapitating Game-maker Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley)), it’s Games time.
While I strongly believe Hutcherson stole the film’s opening third, I left the theater dazzled by Lawrence’s performance in the arena. I knew Katniss was in safe hands based off the previews alone (“I volunteer! I volunteer as tribute!”) but her true abilities as an actress shone during both the film’s intense action sequences and its softer moments. I will not include any spoilers, but bring tissues and an understanding grandmother with you.
(Side note to all impressionable teenage girls reading this: Katniss is now your role model. Pay no attention to the other fictional teenage girl, who will remain nameless, who spends an estimated eighty percent of her life emoting nothing beyond sadness, a fascination with supernatural teenage boys, or incomprehension. She spends the other twenty percent sleeping. That is all.)
To the audience who went to see the movie without reading the book, the movie could easily score five out of five stars. The acting was solid. It hit all the major points of the book. The shaking camerawork was a little dizzying at times, but maybe this was because I was only four rows from the screen. The odds were not in my favor. Nonetheless, The Hunger Games was a complete success.
However, those who read the book (AKA ‘real fans’) may have been a little let down by the film’s pacing and excluded details. The movie runs two hours and twenty minutes, but still lacks the liberty to flesh out the world of Panem, including all of its politics and social corruption. Worst of all, it could not fully show the developing partnership between Katniss and District 11 tribute Rue (Amandla Stenberg).
Overall, I was very pleased with the film. My initial twitter review read, “Best movie ever. Need to let the awesomeness sink in. No words.” Now that I had time to chill out and think about it, I can still credit it for being an excellent film, but not the best one ever created. The Hunger Games was a feast for those who had not read the books; but to those who had been spoiled by the book’s unmatchable splendor, it was a tasty, if not completely necessary dessert.