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The Hunger Games

A film directed by Gary Ross based on the book by Suzanne Collins

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The Hunger Games

  • Mar 23, 2012
The Hunger Games is the first of three books written by Suzanne Collins, the other two being Catching Fire and Mockingjay. With a huge opening weekend predicted there is little doubt that the studios will green light the other two movies to have them made as soon as possible. For those who have not read the book I suggest you do as not only is it a quick read but frankly this movie is made more for fans of the book than it is for someone going in knowing nothing about the series. In fact I went to see the movie with someone who had not read the books (along with two huge fans of the series) and while he loved the film there were some details that were lost on him such as what are sponsors, or why Gale had his name in the drawing so much, or for that matter why Gale was such an important character to the story. Fans of The Hunger Games will no doubt love the movie as it is a very well done and entertaining, but having just finished the book a couple months ago I found myself comparing the source material to the movie throughout the story.

With a need to satisfy fans of the series there is a lot that needs to be put into the movie, but by putting so much in the filmmakers often short change the detail. From the grandiose Capitol to the chariot rides you lose much of the detail the author puts in. This is compounded by the fact that so many of the bigger scenes were created using CGI and looks far too animated from the scenes shot on location. While the detail may have not been in the picture, the main bullet points were all hit, and maybe to a debilitating degree. While the movie wraps up after 142 minutes with many in the audience wanting more there were scenes bogged down especially before we get inside the arena. The pacing was inconsistent throughout the movie. In the beginning there was not enough development involved with major information being lost in the beginning left for the audience to infer or for readers to already know. An early example being the lack of time dedicated to showing Katniss Everdeen as a strong hunter which is what makes her such a strong favorite in the arena. From there we get to the Capitol, it just seems to take too long to get inside the arena. Once inside the arena the movie pace quickens again, but lost is the struggle to survive. I don't know how I could have done it better as it is not all that visually interesting to show dehydration but it just felt like director Gary Ross kept accelerating and then slamming on the brakes throughout the story and any driver can tell you just how frustrating that is to follow.

The most frustrating thing not shown in the movie is the brutal murder of children. Who didn’t want to see kids killing each other, in fact it is what I was looking forward to most. There is no getting around the themes of this first book, it is a post apocalyptic America having their children forced to fight each other to the death, this is dark subject matter and I wanted to see it. Now because this is a young adults book there are many kids out there who are going to want to see this movie, so maybe you don't want your nine-year old to see a child slit another child's throat. And while I knew it wasn’t going to be as gritty as I wanted it to be with a PG-13 rating I still had a small bit of hope to see the massive amounts of violence the book promised me. Instead what we see is a lot of close ups, quick cuts, shaky camera work. This usually helps to show a non violent form of death and chaos but using all three techniques became distracting and really took you out of the action. Most noticeably once they enter the arena and during the climax. With all that said the story from the novel is so strong, fast paced, and filled with so many great characters that it seems impossible for this movie to fail.

Jennifer Lawrence is absolutely perfect as Katniss Everdeen, with just enough charm to still be likable to the audience and with the perfect amount of fuck off written on her face. She can capture an audience by simply doing what she is asked to do. She is such a natural actress that it becomes easy to see her as the strong female lead that the role demands. She does not need to carry this film alone as she is accompanied by a star studded cast. Stanley Tucci plays Caesar Flickerman, the charismatic host of the event; he is more engaging and charming than most hosts currently on reality television right now. Woody Harrelson plays most people's favorite character, Haymitch. A perfectly cast drunk and can mix in the sincere when need be. The only thing lacking is his relationship with Katniss, but that seemed more like a conscious choice by the writers to leave out than anything Harrelson did. Then there is Lenny Kravitz as Cinna who proved to be a fantastic casting choice and took his role and played it with the perfect combination of sympathy and seriousness in order to pull off charming. This is all without mentioning solid performances by Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, and Wes Bentley who did much more with Seneca Crane then was originally intended but it was great to see inside the production of it all and what those on the outside thought about the tributes.

With all this terrific acting the only two people who didn't benefit from this amazing casting were the two male leads, who looked awful in comparison. Josh Hutchinson is wholly unremarkable and unmemorable as Peeta. He delivers his lines either so matter of factually or so overdone many people in the audience actually laughed at scenes I know should have been taken much more seriously. Then there was Liam Hemsworth who is often cut away to during the action to remind us he is there and we should care about him, but visually there is no reason to care unless you want to see a brooding teenager. While one of the great discussions from the book came from all the "romance," neither male lead is strong or compelling enough to maintain an interest in. And without an outright declaration of what Katniss is thinking a lot of the “romance” is left by the wayside.

While it seems like I bitched a lot about what The Hunger Games were missing, it was when it seemed like they were doing nothing at all that they got everything right. Most of my frustration, as any reader will tell you, is the inability to separate what the movie lacked. The book itself reads like a film and it is easy to visualize how the scenes should play out. So rather than sit back and enjoy this terrific story, which it really was, I got bogged down in the minutia. Lesson from it all, stop reading and assume the Hollywood is so far gone out of ideas that the adaptations from popular novels will come out within a couple of years. 

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March 24, 2012
We have similar things to say about this movie. It was good for what it was, but it was just missing something. Nice review.
More The Hunger Games reviews
review by . March 23, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Decent...But I Liked This Premise Better When It was Called
“The Hunger Games” had been getting a lot of press and ‘hype’ when word had gotten out that Suzanne Collins’ novel (published in 2008) was going to be adapted into the big screen. Director Gary Ross adapts this dystopian world along with screenwriters Suzanne Collins and Billy Ray into an action-drama. I have to admit the book had garnered quite a following, and this film has been heavily anticipated. I have seen several threads about the controversy due to its similarities …
review by . September 16, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
** out of ****    "The Hunger Games" is based on the first book in the best-selling young adult self-titled trilogy of books written by Suzanne Collins. I have never read any of the three - "The Hunger Games", "Catching Fire", and "Mockingjay" - and the film really does me no favors. Based on fan feedback, I will not for one second believe that this adaptation reflects the quality and depth of the novel; because the film falls short in both departments. But as always, I'm here …
review by . March 23, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
There were few novels as striking and unique as The Hunger Games when it debuted.  When I first read the book a couple of years ago I'd have never thought it would become a phenomenon... much less become a movie.  Not only did I ever think it would become a movie (my first thought was, "How would they do it?") but I certainly didn't think it would become one of the finest films I've seen in some time.  It is a movie that tackles big themes.  Asks big questions.  …
review by . March 21, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
'The Hunger Games' 'Two Jews On Film' Go To Battle Over This Futuristic Dark Fantasy (Video)
               By Joan Alperin Schwartz      I'm sure by now almost everyone is familiar with the story of 'The Hunger Games'.  The book was the first in a trilogy written by Suzanne Collins and all three novels have been on the bestseller list for several years.      But for those people unfamiliar with the story of Katniss Everdeen, the 16 year old girl who competes in The Hunger Games...   …
review by . March 21, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
THE HUNGER GAMES Written by Suzanne Collins and Gary Ross Directed by Gary Ross Starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth   President Snow: Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.   Having just finished reading the incredibly addictive Suzanne Collins novel, and having fallen completely in love with the heroine, Katniss Everdeen, in the process, I could barely breathe before seeing Gary Ross’s film adaptation of THE HUNGER GAMES. I was downright giddy …
review by . March 24, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         That The Hunger Games is so timely and intelligent is precisely the reason why it’s also so frightening. It depicts a time and place in which the failures of mass society are exploited for the entertainment of the privileged few. In this case, it’s in the form of an annual competition to the death, one that’s captured via hidden cameras and aired for the rest of the world to see. Whatever they call it in this alternate reality, …
review by . April 21, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
      There's something about this movie that makes me like it more than I should. I don't know what... but I know it's there. I've never read the books so when I saw it I had no idea what to expect. Fortunately for me I was pleased with the product and it's like it became one of my guilty pleasure movies.      The Hunger Games strives away from the usual and synthesizes elements that are rarely common in movies like these. The story serves …
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  • The Hunger Games
  • Opened March 23, 2012 | Runtime:2 hr. 22 min.
  • PG-13
    Intense violent thematic material and disturbing images - all involving teens
  • Information for parents: Common Sense Media says Iffy for 13+. Read More
  • Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games. A twisted punishment for a past uprising and an ongoing government intimidation tactic, The Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which "Tributes" must fight with one another until one survivor remains. Sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen volunteers in her younger sister's place to enter the games, and is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch Abernathy when she's pitted against highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives. If she's ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
  • Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland
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    Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama

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