The Hunger Games

Director: Gary Ross
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley and Woody Harrelson
Released: Mar 23rd, 2012

Well, this is a situation we’ve all seen before right?
Now that the Harry Potter saga has concluded, all the teens and tweens need a new book-to-film adaptation to look forward to. Attempts to launch a successful franchise on the scale of  J.K. Rowling’s work have, more often than not, met with embarrassing failure. Eragon, The Lightning Thief, and The Dark is Rising, all of these films were mediocre as a ham sandwich on brown bread, and failed to spark much interest. So, it comes as some surprise that The Hunger Games has managed to buck the trend, establishing itself as a strong standalone film, rather than a cheap copycat.

The Plot:
Set in a futuristic world, the people are separated into either the luxurious upper class Capitol, or the hard working lower class Regions. Every year, the Capitol takes a boy and a girl from each of the twelve regions and pits them all in a fight to the death, where only one may leave victorious. In an attempt to save her younger sisters life, Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) volunteers herself as the Twelfth Regions’ tribute in the 74th annual Hunger Games.

What really sets The Hunger Games apart from other teen book-to-film adaptations is that it doesn’t feel anything like an adaptation. It’s a thought provoking and intelligent film in it’s own right, and not just a visual book, loaded with your favourite scenes. Whereas the likes of Harry Potter and Twilight rely heavily on standout scenes that contain special effects and fantasy to reel in it’s audience, the Hunger Games’ is a very fluid film that is both impressively topical (considering the increasing popularity of reality shows) and unashamedly humble.

Let’s get the comparison out of the way: How similar is The Hunger Games to Kinji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale? Well, in terms of concept, yes, it boasts a near identical storyline. A group of kids are gathered up and made an example of, by making them fight to the death. And for some reason, they’re not all cool with that. However, in terms of focus and style, the two films are quite different. Unlike Battle Royale, the focus isn’t on extreme violence. Very little blood or actual violence is portrayed on screen, due to the fact that we’re dealing with teen lit. Instead, the film focuses on relationships and themes.

Jennifer Lawrence is perfectly cast as Katniss, managing to depict a very complicated individual in the films running time. She is intelligent and capable, but also slightly self conscious and awkward. You have to keep reminding yourself that she is very much a teenager. However, she has been deprived the privilege of a normal upbringing because, after her father left, she is the only responsible person left in the household, burdened with the responsibility of providing for both her mother and sister. She simply doesn’t have the luxury of being a kid.

Like the book, the film takes place mainly from her perspective and so, we relate to the other characters in the way she does. As such, the film unfurls in such a way that we are suspicious of everyone who interacts with Katniss, suspecting them of sinister ulterior motives. We notice this most when she interacts with Peeta (Hutcherson), the boy selected from her region. Also handing in a surprisingly impressive performance, it is difficult to know where Peeta stands, whether he genuinely cares about Katniss, or if he is actually as manipulative as the Games require him to be. Impressively, the film bravely doesn’t offer any closure in it’s conclusion.

Because of the heavy emphasis on relationships and character, there is little in the way of a ‘wow factor’, in terms of action at least. There are no slow motion scenes of kids fighting with lightning fast reflexes, or CGI giant spiders. In fact, if there are any complaints to be made, it is that the action is just a little too sparse. The film does a good job at maintaining momentum, with Katniss’ situation constantly altering, keeping both her and the audience on edge. However, as minor a complain as it may be, it does lack a little bit of a punch in that area.

The Hunger Games deserves a lot of respect for trying something different, and even more so for succeeding in producing a highly enjoyable film. It is far more meditative an experience than most films aimed at a young audience, which might alienate some. However, it is still an impressive addition to the sci-fi genre, one that acts as a distorted mirror to our own society. The conclusion absolutely begs for a sequel.

Rating: 8/10

“May the odds be ever in your favor” – Katniss Everdeen

Shamelessly Awful Facts:

  • Josh Hutcherson is a guy that will probably be recognizable almost primarily from trailers and film posters. To save you some time, he was in Bridge to Terabithia, The Kids are All Right and the Journey to the Centre of the Earth movies.
  • It took me some time to figure out that one of the girls, the one with the knives, was the murderous little girl from the film Orphan. Luckily, the exclamation “That’s the midget who came onto her Dad!!” was said in my head and not out loud.
  • The name ‘Katniss’ is derived from an edible plant species, Sagittaria, commonly known as ‘Arrowhead’.

This film is kind of like:

  • The love child of Big Brother and Gladiator
  • Eating a delicious steak when a vegetarian is staring at you

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I think that The Hunger Games is the best movie and book in the world and Jennifer Lawrence (the person who plays Katniss Everdeen) is the best actress in then world and Josh Hutcherson (the person who plays Peeta Mellark) is the best actor in the world. I have read all the books in this trilogy (The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay) and they are awesomely awesome. I love this movie and have watched it 3 times so far and I still want to see it many times more (and I wil), and I can not wait for the other 3 movies to come out!(they are spliting the last book of the trilogy into two movies). In fact, I am being Katniss Everdeen for Halloween. My favorite characters are Katniss and Peeta!!

    Go The Hunger Games!!!!!!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: