I feel that there has to be two reviews for this particular movie – one for the fans, and another for, well, the non-fans, or those with no background knowledge of The Hunger Games, the novel by Suzanne Collins. My word to the non-fans: Read the books. Read my review. Then decide whether or not you want to see the movie. But this review is for the fans who haven’t seen the movie. This review is also for those who have seen the movie and are merely curious to see what other teens think of it. (Haha, gotcha!)
Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you the 74th Hunger Games!
Directed by Gary Ross, flash forward into this post-apocalyptic setting, and the world as we know it has fallen. The shining Capitol rose out of the dust and chaos, and underneath are the 12 districts, each serving its own function. To remind the citizens of their power, the Capitol holds an annual Hunger Games, a twisted source of entertainment for all of Panem. One boy and one girl (called tributes) are selected from every district to participate in the Hunger Games, a fight to the death.
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), a 16-year-old living in District 12, one of the poorest districts, manages to feed her mother, her beloved younger sister Prim, and herself by hunting in the off-limit woods. Katniss’ world is turned upside down when Prim is chosen as a tribute, and bravely volunteers to take Prim’s place in the Hunger Games. Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) is her tribute partner, and they must play the angle of the star-crossed lovers to win the Capitol audience’s heart.
This was one of the best adaptations I’ve seen in a long time. It stayed true to the book as much as possible, and we (as an audience) are definitely sucked into the story, applying our background knowledge from the books to every character that appears on-screen.
Jennifer Lawrence embodied her character from head to toe. She became Katniss – her audacity, independence, and nerve shines ever so brilliantly on screen. Lawrence also brought out Katniss’ flaws, enabling fans to relate, connect, and love her as a well-rounded character. Josh Hutcherson is perfect as the easygoing, sweet, gentle Peeta, and Liam Hemsworth, with what little screen time he had, immediately established himself as the tough hunter Gale is. Woody Harrelson acted a lot like the Haymitch I imagined. Fans will not be disappointed in the roles of the tributes – although many are first-timers, they portrayed their characters flawlessly. I still wish they had more screen time, even though the movie is already two hours and twenty-two minutes long. The pacing is well done; audiences won’t squirm, but rather, their eyes will be riveted on the screen. The shaky-cam style wasn’t really my favorite – it was a relief when the camera stood still. Even so, it was a good technique that gave us quick, choppy shots that hid most of the violence.
I liked it very much, and that was why it bothered me. How can someone say that they like a movie about kids killing kids? The Capitol audience is entertained by watching the Hunger Games. We pay to watch the movie The Hunger Games. What difference is there? When you root for Katniss to win, you want everyone else to die.
As I was in great conflict, I wondered why I didn’t feel this way in the books. I came to the conclusion that Katniss’ anger towards the Capitol isn’t as prominent in the movie than the books. That moment with the berries is supposed to be monumental, something that will be remembered, but in the movie, it was over in a flash. Even so, her survival and willingness to give up her life for others still manage to win me over.
The deaths and killings are no way over glamorized, and I’m happy to report that the violence was toned down, true to its rating of a PG-13. We are not meant to cheer for the deaths. Even those who are part of the “bad” group reveal that they are simply hurt and scared, pawns that have been used in the inhuman system of the Hunger Games.
Fans will love it. Nonfans will probably love it. All I can say is that it turned out better than I expected, and that’s saying a lot. May the odds be ever in your favor. So watch with the world, ‘cause the world will be watching. Ages 12+
Check out my book review for the Hunger Games, and tell us your opinions below!
Author: Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Age range: 12+
Do me a favor and before you navigate to another website, read the following sentence:
The Hunger Games is NOT another Twilight.
OK, let me back up. The Hunger Games is set in the future Panem in what used to be North America. The harsh and cruel Capitol is surrounded by the 12 districts. Because of an uprising, the Hunger Games was born. Each district is forced to send in a tribute, one boy and one girl, to compete in the annual Hunger Games – a fight to the death. The last person standing is the victor. To make it not only torturous but also humiliating, the citizens must treat it as a festive as well.
When 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps up to volunteer when her sister is chosen, Katniss figures she’ll never see District 12 again. But as the Hunger Games go on, she realizes she has a chance of returning home as victor. And like the Hunger Games cover synopsis states: “But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.”
Just by the synopsis, the Hunger Games makes it clear that it is a bloody and intense principle. There are some scary parallels between their futuristic world and ours at the moment. It is dark, and I don’t recommend it for those below 12.
Perhaps it is the way Suzanne Collins presents everything in a straightforward manner, or that the characters are so tangible and real in a far, far away realm. Maybe it’s the comparison of the Capitol and District 12, or the fact that readers simply love the action, heroism, and romance. Whatever it is, the fan base has stretched out to include both Harry Potter and Twilight fans, along with critics, who prefer Katniss over Bella from Twilight.
Going back to my statement about Hunger Games vs. Twilight, yes, there is romance, but it is a secondary plot line. Heroism comes first. Katniss is a tough tomboyish girl who won’t go down without a fight, whereas Bella… I won’t compare them here. A love triangle forms between Katniss, her life-long friend Gale, and fellow tribute Peeta Mellark. Her romance with Peeta becomes essential to their survival in the arena, and she soon becomes a figure of rebellion, starting a spark that will never be quenched.
I, personally, love the Hunger Games, and I’d recommend it for any teen. The humor, suspense, philosophy, adventure and romance certainly pave a flaming path towards a Harry Potter-like success.