Movie Name: The Hunger Games
Release Date(s): March 23, 2012
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is forced to take the place of her sister Prim (Willow Shield) at the annual Reaping for District 12. Now she is on the her way to the Hunger Games with Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). With coaching from Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), Cinna (Lenny Kravitz), and the only District 12’s only living winner Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), she must perform for the crowd if she has any chance of winning the kill-or-be-killed competition. Knowing that she must at some point turn on Peeta becomes more difficult when Peeta professes his love, but Katniss must also decide if her feelings are for Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) back home or Peeta. All is null-and-void however if the games keeper Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley) and President Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland) decide that Katniss cannot win.
Directed by Gary Ross, The Hunger Games adapts the first book in the wildly popular series by Suzanne Collins. The books are already a phenomenon with comparisons to Twilight and Harry Potter by the ravenous fans, and the movie is sure to be a record breaker.
The big question is: who will enjoy this movie? The answer is probably many people because it is pretty solid. People who can’t stand a movie like the Twilight series will enjoy the action and the competition which pits the characters in the woods with only the weapons they can grab. The pomp and circumstance surrounding the Hunger Games is also quite fun and trying to dissect the society which has created a game and can fund it. The love triangle feels very contrived with the nice guy who admits his feelings, the rebel guy who won’t admit his feelings, and the girl who has to decide between two nice guys, but fortunately, the movie doesn’t spend a lot of time playing it up.
The movie is actually pretty good and definitely has a different feel than movies like Twilight or Harry Potter. The camera work has a lot of handheld aspects and really looks fantastic at points by not just giving viewers the easy shot. Add to this, a large variety of locations (the poor coal town, the Capitol, and the forest), and there is a lot of different areas to be explored…and the filmmakers used them wisely to give a real feel. The movie makers rather than trying to make a tech based world that will immediately be dated went with an über-real Clockwork Orange style Capitol that is so out of style that even if it is dated it won’t matter. Even some of the music felt Clockwork Orange-like (especially the closing song). It wasn’t as well done as A Clockwork Orange, but it was a nice attempt.
What really sells this movie is Jennifer Lawrence. With Winter’s Bone, she proved she could act, with X-Men: First Class, she proved she could have fun, and with this movie, she was able to bring those two aspects together (plus she got to eat another squirrel in this movie…she’s going to be really good at that by the end of her career). Her smart acting holds the movie and creates a pretty genuine character.
Lawrence is backed by a great supporting cast with Woody Harrelson as the stand-out as the grumpy yet supportive Haymitch. Elizabeth Bank’s character Effie is meant to be obnoxious, but she does a bit too good of a job of it, making her scenes a bit irritating. Wes Bentley who fell off the map not long after American Beauty returns with his crazy beard and Donald Sutherland playing his typical old man role (and with an equally crazy beard). Stanley Tucci plays the talk show host of the Hunger Games and really plays it up. Both male love interests are pretty dull and generic along with most of the contestants. Ok, the Rue character (Amandla Stenberg) might be important to Katniss, but I only saw her a couple of times and have a hard time getting attached…once the game is on, the character development is finished.
The Hunger Games is a movie that will be liked by many, boyfriends who get dragged there with their girlfriends will like the killing (though it is still just a weak version PG-13 version of the superior R-Rated Battle Royale), and the girls will like the underdeveloped love story….that’s for the sequels I guess. For the most part it followed the book with some little scenes cut out and reworked for the big screen (I thought the genetic-Tributes dogs from the book were rather dumb anyway). The movie is simple, but nicely shot fun. The Hunger Games was followed up by The Hunger Games: Catching Fire in 2013.