THE HUNGER GAMES, from the dystopian novel by Susanne Collins is a surprisingly faithful adaptation of the book. Yes, there were things changed, but that’s the standard with ANY adaptation of the written word. There simply isn’t enough room to get it all in. In the land of Panem, a failed revolt by the 13 districts against the capitol 74 years ago resulted in the creation of The Hunger Games, an annual battle royal where each district is forced to hold a lottery and send one boy and girl to fight to the death in the arena. Katniss Everdeen takes the place of her younger sister Prim who was chosen as the district 12 tribute and must fight her place.
The books are an amazing read, and deal with subject matter far beyond their “young adult” tag. If you’re expecting Twilight, keep looking. This is a far better written and entertaining series. The movie follows suit, cramming a lot of information into it’s nearly 2 and a half hour running time, but entertains first and foremost. If you’ve read the books (which I highly recommend on their value alone) I don’t believe you’ll be dissapointed. If you’ve never read the books, You can certainly jump into the film without worry of missing anything, (though the ride is MUCH more enjoyable with that backstory).
An outstanding cast brings wonderful characters to life, including Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, and Lenny Kravitz. Of particular stand out is Donald Sutherland as President Snow, who manages to govern Panem with fear and intimidation and keeps the nation in a stranglehold under the Capitol, and gives his portrayal of President Snow as almost frail, and yet utterly ruthless. Also in fantastic if supporting roles are the Dream Lord himself, Toby Jones, and Stanley Tucci as Caesar.
Once the games begin, they unfold like a teenage version of Survivor as they battle the elements and each other. And this part of the film is outstandingly well made, it looks like a documentary crew was turned loose in the middle of a war zone. Unfortunately it matches the first half of the film. Director Gary Ross uses a lot of shaky cam to drive home drama, and in the first half of the film, it’s totally not necessary. In fact, it detracts from the rising climax of the end of the movie. I also wish that Haymitch and Cinna had been given more to do, as they are two of my favorite characters in the novel. It may not be the breakout film the media have built it into, but these are all small complaints in an overall well made film. It’s entertaining and certainly lays the groundwork for the two sequels to follow. May the odds be ever in your favor…
The Hunger Games – A