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.
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 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.
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.