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The Hunger Games


When I first read The Hunger Games I immediately thought two things. 1. This is a pretty good idea for a film. 2. It’s just a subdued combination of Battle Royale and Twilight. Turns out, both of these were true, but to varying degrees.

Grade:

If you don’t know the story that’s been shoved down everyone’s throats by advertising, here it is in a nutshell. In a dystopian future, the Capitol holds an annual event called the Hunger Games, which puts two tributes (children between 12-18) from each district – of which there are twelve – in an arena and forces them to kill each other for the amusement of the country. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) represent the poorest district, 12, and are mentored by a former victor, Haymitch (Woody Harrelson).

To start, I was impressed with how well director Gary Ross and his crew portrayed the events on the screen. Some situations may not have had the same aesthetics as I had anticipated, but there was enough truth to the novel that I could see the foundations. That being said, for the first fifteen minutes or so, it is impossible to see how District 12 is portrayed due to abysmal camerawork. The camera is in constant motion during scenes that don’t require any motion whatsoever. This is obviously a stylistic choice, but it is wildly unnecessary and a terrible way to start you off on a journey of over two hours. There is an odd emphasis on full-body panning that highlights the costumes and results in an unnerving prominence on feet. Luckily (mercifully) the cinematography improves, but it is always subpar and off.

For me, the real winner of the film is the casting director, Debra Zane. Jennifer Lawrence is a solid Katniss, even if she seems capable of only anger, confusion and sadness. Harrelson, Stanley Tucci (as the host, Caesar Flickerman), Elizabeth Banks (as District 12’s Capitol rep Effie Trinket) and Lenny Kravitz (as stylist Cinna) are all excellent choices for their respective roles and do well to make them stand out. The best, in my opinion, is Amandla Stenberg as the diminutive Rue. She is a perfect mix of sweet and sly, which makes her crucial scenes that much better. Hutcherson does a decent job, but to be honest I was never a fan of Peeta as a character so any fault I have with Hutcherson is probably not of his own doing.

With regards to the adaptation aspect of the film, The Hunger Games does a fairly good job using scenes from the book while incorporating extra scenes to provide information about Panem (the country). By providing Head Gamemaker Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley) with a larger role in the proceedings, we are given a better insight into the thought process of the Capitol – a facet I actually preferred over the book. The scenes actually during the Games are – mostly – kept completely accurate to the book and hold as much suspense and tension. At times, I have to say, I felt it was enormously beneficial to have advanced knowledge because it seemed like without that knowledge I would have been lost – any readers who did not read the book please chime in with your thoughts.

Looking to the future, I feel that Games sets up the second and third (fourth?) films much better than I had anticipated. I have lukewarm sympathies for the second book and an ardent dislike for the third, so I will have little expectations viewing them as films, but I will see them regardless. The Hunger Games is fast-paced, intense and quite entertaining while remaining accurate to the book. Overall, it is a film fans would and should be proud of.

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    • Tran
    • April 24th, 2012

    The movie was a lot better than I expected. Thanks for the heads up about the nauseating camerawork! Prepared myself by taking motion-sickness pills. just kidding. The movie was also not as violent as I expected, which helped me stomach the cinematography 🙂
    Hutcherson was very disappointing, although I feel like his acting in this movie is a bit better than his other “Journey to..” movies, which isn’t saying much.

  1. April 18th, 2012

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