I Saw A Film Today… The Hunger Games

The book or the film? It is a question that has plagued cinemas forever. Really it’s a catch-22 situation. If you read the book, your expectation of the movie will not be met because someone else doesn’t have the vision or imagination as you do. Characters, scenery, and architecture are not what you expect. But the problem with seeing the film before reading the book is all imagination is gone. When you read you will only see what you saw in the film. And to not use your imagination in this way is very sad indeed. But with almost all things, there are always exceptions.

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Years after a war has devoured what we know as North America, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) lives in the Appalachia coal town known as District 12. In a barbaric tradition that started after the war, anyone from the ages of 12 to 18 must put their name in a lottery that will decide if they are to participate in the Hunger Games.

The Games are an event held every year that pits 24 teens, one boy and one girl from each of the 12 districts, to fight to the death until there is only one victor. And when Katniss’ younger sister is chosen to participate, Katniss instead takes her place by volunteering.

Katniss is joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) and their mentor Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) in the journey to the capital to meet with the other competitors and prepare for the Games. Then the time comes. Let the Games begin!

Going in to The Hunger Games, I didn’t really know what to expect from it. My knowledge of Suzanne Collins’ novel was less than my description above. But I was thoroughly thrilled with what this film offered. It was a story that could have easily been a straight-forward action film with no plot. Thankfully, the crew behind the film stayed faithful to the source material (or at least that’s what many of the people who have read the book have told me). It has action but really it’s more about teenagers growing up under extreme circumstances.

Originally I did take issue with how the film was shot. And to a certain extent, I still do. Gary Ross’ shaky camera approach works for some scenes, but for the action sequences they just don’t. It was too extreme and ultimately illegible. Did he do this to keep a PG-13 rating or did he genuinely think this would be the best look?

Another problem I hadwas how slow this film started. This normally isn’t a problem but in this slow period not a whole lot is accomplished. They dwell a long time on the training for the games without really accomplishing or learning anything new. You learn very little about most of the other competitors other than the blond guy is going to be a challenge to defeat. And I also wasn’t crazy on the ending. Almost feels like instead of an original ending, they decided to go the easy route.

Young Jennifer Lawrence has a bright future ahead of her. Her performance is very good. She may show weakness in the more emotional scenes but that’s the charm of her I believe. Her innocence is her charm. Josh Hutcherson does well enough as well. Maybe not as skilled as Lawrence but near the end of the film he really takes control of his character.

The supporting cast is great as well.  Woody Harrelson is, well, good ole’ Woody. The ways he slurs his words and casual demeanor are him at his best. I’ve never been much of a fan of Lenny Kravitz’s music but there might be a future for him in acting. Another surprise performance was from little Amandla Stenberg as Rue.

I found The Hunger Games to be a thoroughly good film. Then again this film is a little more for fans of the books than me. Which is good because most of the fans have reacted positively to it. Not to say there are not one or two people whingeing out there.

Verdict: SEE IT!

*Rated PG-13 for intense violent thematic material (nice wording, eh?) and disturbing images- all involving teens.

**Poster by Adam Juresko

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2 Responses to “I Saw A Film Today… The Hunger Games”

  1. Man, I found a GREAT poster for my Hunger Games review and then you came in with that one and blew my offering out of the water. Great review, awesome poster!

    • Kevin Entrekin Says:

      I know, I almost gave up looking for a good fan poster. Most of them were either goofy or made by super fans with little editing skills. But I lucked out finding this one.

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