‘The Hunger Games’: The Best Seller Comes to the Big Screen

August 20, 2012 21 Comments

romoted as the movie of the summer – and quite possibly, even the film of the year, after I read the novel this past winter (if you want the truth, curiosity got the best of me), I was left baffled by what the appeal of this story is. Still this didn’t stop me from reserving a rental copy the first day The Hunger Games (2012) arrives on DVD.

The Hunger Games (2012) Film Review

War tears apart a nation that was once “one.” Now, the nation of Panem keeps to a strict code among their divided 12 districts. Each one houses people that survive by adhering to one source of employment. Every year, the Capitol picks two tributes from each district to participate in The Hunger Games – a battle to the death, as a means of reminding everyone the consequences of war. 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) has a load of responsibility on her shoulders. She’s the one who puts food on the table, along with her best friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth) while her mother is sits at home listless since her husband’s death, her younger daughter, Prim (Willow Shields) is safe because of Katniss.

On the day of the selection, young people line up to hear the two names. This year, Katniss’ worst nightmare is realized when her sister’s name is read. Volunteering, Katniss takes her place as tribute, and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) is the second to represent district 12; a boy with whom Katniss shares a past. In the aftermath of the selection, Katniss and Peeta are taken to The Capitol to train. Winning will mean wealth and a new life for one, but for the rest of the tributes, it means death. The 74th Hunger Games are about to begin.

Before I ramble on with a gush or tirade, I should say upfront this story conflicts me. In my opinion, it’s one that has potential but its glaring prospective is squandered. Any of you who have read this blog for any length of time know I hold little ardor for The Hunger Games but I wasn’t going to not see the film after reading the book. The story, on film goes through a wide range of emotions and I “feel” them all; it has the power to bring a smile or laughter and tears (I cried) but most of all, it makes me “mad” because of its flawed premise.

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Visually, this movie is pretty, and the sets phenomenal. To see the tributes emerge from a stark desolate world into the elaborate Capitol to finally, the danger of the ‘games’is a wonder in and of itself. We don’t need words to understand how ghastly the districts are or how horrifying the games are because the sets so beautifully emit that; this doesn’t make it a world I want to visit. The production is impressive but some of the flashback moments do confuse if you aren’t familiar with the material. My recommendation is to read the book first so that you understand the scope and know what’s about to happen. The costumes are beautiful and perfectly align with the novel.

‘The Hunger Games’ (2012): The Best Seller Comes to the Big Screen. Jennifer Lawrence plays iconic YA character Katniss Everdeen. Review text © Rissi JC

The film is not as complementary to the novel as some adaptations despite being co-scripted by the author. Though the script isn’t word-for-word, it’s more reflective than conversational; countless shots of the camera focus on Katniss’ face in an attempt to convey emotion. For the most part, its female protagonist impresses. Lawrence makes Katniss a heroine with empathy. She keeps true to her wooden personality but she also gives her more “purpose” so that we desire to support her.

Where Katniss is blunt and fearless, there’s the kind Peeta whose survival chances are slim. Josh and Jennifer have chemistry while poor Liam never does get a fair chance since 90% of the time he’s on-screen is without words. When Katniss’ kisses Peeta, and he resolutely claims he won’t let her go (this is way better than the book), I melt. Also, the scene when Katniss thinks she’s lost Peeta is heart-stopping. The supporting cast is phenomenal, and consists of Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bently and Donald Sutherland; and in the surprise performance of the movie, Woody Harrelson as Haymitch. Like Lawrence, he makes his drunk, loser of a character a great deal more considerate, and many of their scenes are touching.

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‘The Hunger Games’ (2012): The Best Seller Comes to the Big Screen. Jennifer Lawrence plays iconic YA character Katniss Everdeen. Review text © Rissi JC

So what do my thoughts boil down to? I did like the movie. I watched part of it, shut it off and pondered a while before settling in for the second half. There is something “catching” about the movie and I actually do cry when a certain beloved character dies (I never do that!) but I’m not sure that its pull is strong enough to be addictive.

Its premise bothers me and there is really no way around that. What I do love is that the movie opens new perspectives. Especially enlightening is one scene with President Snow and the games keeper; his analysis is that the only thing stronger than fear is hope. The “logic” of this story is twisty. Despite it supposedly being about “courage and honor,” self-defense killing for sport is iffy. This leaves one unsettled.

What are your thoughts on The Hunger Games? Have you seen it? Are you going to? Start typing, friends!

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Content: Many people die in the first seconds of the games as tributes race to get weapons. Each kill is just out of camera range but there is blood spatter in some instances. Injuries to characters happen with frequancy. Arrows, spears and knives pierce fellow competitors in the games. There are a few minor profanities, da*n. One character drinks to the point of disruption. The film is PG13.

About Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

Rissi JC

amateur photog. #bookblogger. downton abbey. inspys. internet-photo-shy. writer. the aspiration is to someday write professionally. a girl can dream, right?

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21 Comments

  • Amber S. August 20, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    Nice review! I agree about the great quality of the movie, as well as the story's thought-provoking nature. It certainly seems to open up a lot of discussion! And there are definitely some disturbing assumptions and elements… But I appreciate that it prompts discussion about important issues.

    Here's my review of The Hunger Games (just the first book):

    http://seasonsofhumility.blogspot.com/2012/01/my-thoughts-on-hunger-games.html

    Here's my review of The Hunger Games book series (contains spoilers if you haven't read the whole series):

    http://seasonsofhumility.blogspot.com/2012/01/books-that-were-on-fire-my-thoughts-on.html

    And here's my review of the movie:

    http://seasonsofhumility.blogspot.com/2012/03/my-thoughts-on-hunger-games-movie.html

    I'm not sure yet if I'm going to see the movie again. Since my dad read the first book, I think he's interested in watching it just to see how they adapted the book to film. So maybe we'll rent it…?

    ~Amber

  • Rissi August 20, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    Thanks, Amber. I think more than anything else, this story IS thought-provoking BUT it isn't a positive conclusion in my opinion.

    I cannot say that you should or shouldn't give this movie a second viewing BUT I will say, I think my thoughts will shift with a second run through, although I don't know that they will be any more positive… just different.

    Thank you for the links. :-) I am probably going to be writing a rambling post with this film as its centerpiece. So… I should get on that!

    Thanks for stopping in – I am so glad you did! :-)

  • Ruth August 20, 2012 at 8:04 PM

    I'm anxious to see this film again — my pre-order is supposed to be delivered from Amazon sometime this week!

  • his little lady August 20, 2012 at 8:50 PM

    oh gosh, i can never say enough about the hunger games. loved the book. love the movie! and even though a lot of people didn't like jhutch for peeta, i just adore him!!
    need to get that movie asap!!!
    xo TJ

  • Rosie August 20, 2012 at 9:23 PM

    My thoughts on this series are as complicated as a 1000 piece puzzle. Its premise is barbaric and it's storyline is twisted and the writing is fantastic.

    To cut my rampant short, I don't think I could ever in good conscience *own* either the series or the movies.

    I did like seeing the movie though. But I hated the last two books.

  • Brooke August 20, 2012 at 10:14 PM

    I love this movie! But I am quite heartbroken over Gale. He is just so sad at the end of the movie.:( I can't wait for Catching Fire!

    http://jumping4jesus.blogspot.com/

  • Rissi August 20, 2012 at 10:34 PM

    Ruth – hope you enjoy it the second time through! :-) I bought this last week at Wal-Mart via a price match ($14.99) but am still deciding if I'll keep or return it (I rented it first). I would re-watch it… possibly more than just once but… we'll see!

    Such a dilemma. ;-D

    TJ – I guess I didn't really think about Josh being right or wrong for the part but I thought he was just fine. I did think Jennifer was grand as Katniss! In fact, she was an improvement as a character! Hooray for that!

    I don't love either the movie or book but I liked the film a LOT more! I'd watch the movie more than once… not sure about re-reading the book again though I probably would even if for no other reason than to re-fresh my memory before watching the movie. :-)

    Hope you can pick this up on DVD – or Blu Ray. ;-)

    As always, I am glad you stopped by, TJ.

    Rosie – great way to sum up thoughts about this series. I plan on writing a blog post with HG being the "center," so I will probably be rambling on and on about various aspects of the story. The premise had LOTS of potential – or I see it that way, but it pretty much crashes.

    I own all the books as well as the movie… right now. I've heard bad things about the last two books but overall, the movie was a far better prospect that its written counter-part.

    Brooke – so glad you enjoyed it! The second movie is set to begin filming next month and will be out late next year – hopefully it too will improve on the second novel. :-)

    Thank you ALL for commenting and sharing your opinions – I so enjoy getting all of your feedback. *smile* Anyone else interested in discussing this popular series, please go ahead, add your thoughts to the mix.

  • Charity August 20, 2012 at 11:55 PM

    I had no emotional reaction to the film whatsoever, which is odd since I'm a weepy sort of girl when it comes to movies. I thought none of the leads had any chemistry together, I didn't cry when THAT happened, etc. I just felt it was all so… empty, meaningless, and pointless, just like the novel. But I'll give it a rewatch at some point, I'm sure.

  • ginanorma August 21, 2012 at 12:30 AM

    I have yet to see this movie!! I so want to though;)

    Found your blog through Natalie at Heart Stirrings!

  • Rissi August 21, 2012 at 1:14 AM

    Charity – I understand perfectly what you are saying. I was VERY surprised that I was so… "emotional" watching *that* one scene or that I felt excited seeing how worried Katniss was that Peeta could have been killed. It just seemed to flow well. All in all, this was a MUCH richer experience for me than the novel BUT I still am "bothered" by the concept.

    The story is… meaningless in many ways but the film was well made.

    Ginanorma – I hope you enjoy it! The visual aspects of the film are lovely though, like the novel, the script leaves much to be desired.

    THANK you so much for all your feedback in the comments – I so appreciate them, and hope you continue to drop by. (Thanks also for the follow.) Natalie is so kind and a blogger who takes her posts seriously (a compliment to her!) – that is great to know that is how you found me! Thanks for sharing. :-)

  • Mette August 21, 2012 at 5:16 AM

    I loved the books (the first one in particular), and the movie was one of the best teenage-books-to-films adaptions in the last few years (although I liked the first Twilight movie).

  • Miss Jack Lewis Baillot August 21, 2012 at 5:19 AM

    This is one book, movie I cannot make myself watch/ read. I've heard a lot about it though.

  • Gwendolyn Gage August 21, 2012 at 6:25 PM

    Hi Rissi! Great review! I confess, I haven't seen the movie or read the book yet, but I'm going to take your advice and read the book first. I hate it when movies do that confusing flash-back thing. :-)

  • Rissi August 22, 2012 at 12:13 AM

    Mette – really? I think the film is WAY better than the book. It improved on the story in areas where the novel just felt… flat.

    Thanks bunches for stopping by!

    Miss Jack – I hear you. I didn't have to force myself to finish the book but it isn't a "pleasant" story either. Its concept is a strange one.

    Gwendolyn – yes, definitely read the book first if you plan to see the film. That would be my recombination. Most the time flashback scenes are very well done and though these aren't poorly filmed, if you are unfamiliar with the story, you may question what you are seeing.

    As always, love the feedback, readers!

  • Ella April 24, 2013 at 3:04 PM

    I finally watched this . I didn't really like it. Kids killing for sport was disturbing and hard to watch for me.
    I did like some of the Characters, though. Who do you like better, Petta or Gale?

    • Rissi April 24, 2013 at 7:57 PM

      I agree, Ella. That was the main point of contention for me – killing for the amusement of the district government was not my cup of tea. However, oddly enough, I thought this was better than the book.

      Katniss was a better character – more easily liked in the film also which was a big improvement. As for the Peeta vs. Gale debate. Hmm… I think right now I am edging towards Peeta, just because he spent the most time with Katniss and therefore as a viewer/reader, we get to know him best. How about you?

  • Ella April 26, 2013 at 6:07 PM

    I have to say that I like Gale much better. Peeta was the main male character in this movie so I see why more people liked him.

    • Rissi April 30, 2013 at 4:00 PM

      I think on the surface, yes, I would root for Gale also (much of this has to do with the casting *grin*) but as far as looking deeper and getting to know the character, I feel as if I don't really "know" Gale well enough to wish he and Katniss together. That being said, I look forward to that changing – learning more about Gale, once I read book two. :)

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