The Hunger Games certainly did not disappoint fans as it hit theaters this past weekend. The first adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ best-selling book trilogy managed to stay relatively faithful to the source material without compromising the integrity of the movie.
The action-packed sci-fi film introduces audiences to Panem, a future version of North America that has been divided into 12 districts. The districts are closely monitored and regulated by the Capitol.
In order to prevent an uprising, the Capitol holds the Hunger Games every year. Here, a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district are randomly chosen and forced to enter a fight to the death, which is televised and considered required viewing for all Panem residents.
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to take the place of her younger sister in the games. She only volunteers to protect her sister, but the reality is that she does have a good chance at surviving because she illegally hunts. She has become the main provider for her family since her father died.
In the book, a lot of time is spent on Katniss’ role as the adult in her family, but the movie manages to get the message across very quickly. Though her mother is only in a couple scenes, the way Katniss speaks to her clearly conveys that Katniss is the caretaker.
Lawrence plays Katniss rather perfectly. In fact, she actually brings a certain vulnerability to Katniss that makes the movie version more likable than the character in the book. Josh Hutcherson plays Peeta Mellark well, but his job as the boy-next-door type wasn’t exactly hard. Woody Harrelson was great as functioning alcoholic and mentor, Haymitch Abernathy.
Even Lenny Kravitz was good, which was surprising since the announcement of his casting had some scratching their heads . Kravitz really seemed to understand that Cinna is the only person that Katniss trusts, and he kept the character very understated and sweet.
Lastly, there was Elizabeth Banks as Capitol-assigned handler, Effie Trinket. Her acting was great, but her costumes were much more memo r a b l e with Effie and all of the Capitol citizens wearing ostentatious, wacky, colorful cost u m e s , hair, and makeup. It w o u l d ’ v e been very easy to make them look like circus performers, but the costume department did wonderfully.
The cinematography, on the other hand, gave me whiplash at times. I understand cutting a lot of shots in a fight scene, both to keep the rating PG-13 and avoid the scene looking fake. However, these fight scenes were so shaky that it was impossible to tell what was happening. It was annoying and a steady cam could’ve easily been put to good use here.
The special effects were decent. While the fire looked a little unrealistic, the mutants in the arena were scary (and will make you jump out of your seat, even when you know they’re coming).
The film adaptation of The Hunger Gamesdoes show more in certain areas than the books did. Because the books were told entirely through Katniss’ perspective, we never saw anything outside the arena during the games. The movie, however, lets the audience see the gamemakers creating challenges in the arena and the government behind this bloodbath. This is certainly fun for book fans yet it changes part of the story. In the books, society as a whole is the villain. In the movie, the villain is just President Snow.
We also get a peek at District 11, which is a nice foreshadowing for the sequels. I won’t give away what head gamemaker Seneca Crane’s (Wes Bentley) last scene is, but it was a fantastic addition.
However, some things were left out that really shouldn’t have been. They don’t explain the fact that Gale (Liam Hemsworth) has his name in the lottery 42 times because his family needed food.
They also don’t expand upon The Hob, an outdoor market where Katniss sells whatever she hunted. It’s a black market and what she is doing is punishable by public whipping. The movie doesn’t really take the time to acknowledge that Katniss continually risks her safety for her family’s well-being long before she enters the arena nor does the movie focus on the starvation of Panem’s citizens. They completely cut out any mention of Katniss and Peeta being amazed by how much food is available to them in the Capitol.
Also, moviegoers might be expecting the pretty awesome soundtrack, featuring everyone from Kid Cudi to Arcade Fire, which was released last week, to be in the film. The title “Songs from District 12 and Beyond” actually means that none of the songs are in the movie. Not even Taylor Swift and The Civil War’s “Safe and Sound,” which had a video inspired by the film, made the cut.
Overall, The Hunger Gamesis a pretty good movie. As far as adapting the book, it’s much better than I expected. The audience I saw it with seemed to feel the same way as they applauded at the credits.
I did, however, overhear a lot of little kids in the theater saying that they didn’t like it because “it was just a lot of fighting!” It’s a worthwhile movie, but it’s also a political film. So, leave the kids at home.
IMAGE TAKEN from sfexaminer.com