Review: The Hunger Games

Director: Gary Ross

Writers: Gary Ross (screenplay), Suzanne Collins (screenplay/novel)

Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth

Genre: Action,Drama,Sci-Fi,Thriller

MPAA: Rated PG-13

Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the evil 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.

No time is wasted to tell the story of Panem as with any book to movie adaptation it is just not possible to fit everything from the book in the movie. This is not a problem at all for Gary Cross, everything you have to know is spelled out for you by the cast (but never dumbed down to a level that insults).

The Host

Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) the hunger games host persona sporting blue hair and a winning warm smile he elevates the “tributes” (contestants) in the eyes and hearts of the people of The Capitol warping an act of oppression into a fun and exciting event albeit a mandatory one. Early in the film and spotted through out Tucci will appear on screen in a number of ways (that all work really well) with must-know-information.


Haymitch
(Woody Harrelson) our tributes (Katniss & Peeta’s) mentor a previous winner of The Hunger Games and a man who’s completely given up on life adds to Tucci’s narration with his “life lessons”. But by far one of my favourite characters is Effie Trinket the tributes handler, she is their manager with a dream of once representing a winning district, district 12 where our leading lady and lad are from is not exactly going on a winning streak anytime soon. In district 12 The Hunger Games is a death sentence.

Gale (Liam Hemsworth) is in the film but (here comes a reference) unlike the book his role has been reduced and while it may not give enough for those of you new to the franchise, it lays good ground for his character in the sequels. I also have to mention that Wes Bentley as GameMaster Seneca Crane with his shapely beard fits in well with the story alongside President Snow the main Villain aside from society itself) played by none other than veteran actor Donald Sutherland. I always associated him with a more or less good guy but he creates an empty void in his character where a soul should have resided. Effie Trinke (Elizabeth Banks)t is so well portrayed and acted by Banks I completely accept the ridiculous outfit and clown makeup that is the height of Capitol fashion.

High Fashion

Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) does a really good job as our co-tribute and his relationship with Katniss is explained through means that feel natural. Cato (Alexander Ludwig) and the other Tributes all do a good job in showing the difference between the 12 districts in terms of what the hunger games mean to their government controlled piece of the world.

Fine group of young adults

 

Katniss Everdeen our heroine portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence picks up this film and plants it firmly on her shoulders and without thinking twice (nearly) every scene she is in. She portrays such a strong young woman whom through the insane world she was born into and the personal tragedies that come with being basically a slave and still continues to care for her mother and younger sister. When Jennifer is on-screen you are shown fear, hatred, hope and joy. All emotions are communicated to the audience masterfully most of the time wordlessly. Bravo Jennifer Bravo. Some of you might think this is way out of line but parents if you have a teenager 13 or older, this is who should be your kids role model Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss, not because she kicks ass and slays her fellow-man in the games but because of what the character stands for, her strength in a time where most would just lay down and give up, a respect for life.

Quiet on set

A story about a society that feels real, this is not a bombed out wasteland filled with anarchy, there are still forests there is still wildlife. Rather a dystopian society that maintains control through violence and fear a story about every human beings right to freedom. With this story at its heart the film speaks to everyone, young old, male female.

Everything forms a symbiosis along side the wonderful soundtrack that sets the right tone for each moment with original songs composed and written by T-Bone Burnett James and Newton Howard accompanied by the outstanding cinematagrophy Tom Stern (Grand Torino). A reoccurring and very effective technique used is that of removing all sound but the music creating the “vacuum” most often used to depict shock think the beginning of Saving Private Ryan. During the fight scenes this is often used and due to it I don’t even want to call them fight scenes they are murders – this movie depicts violence in such a way that instead of glorifying it creates a disdain for taking another human life. Very well done indeed.

In summation this is a movie that should be seen it has a story that is very well told and extremely well acted. There are of course weaknesses a few pet peeves on the acting side nothing major. CGI does look like complete garbage during maybe a minute of screen time as all the tributes are brought out on chariots the large backdrop looks just awful. And there are few other times that unfortunately breaks the immersion.
Go see The Hunger Games.

 

8.5 out of 10

Jennifer Lawrence.
Film making at its best.
a must see film for all ages.

Let me start of by saying I did like the books but as a 28-year-old man it was too love triangle oriented for me to be able to identify with Suzanne Collins inner monologue for Katniss, the love drama not bad or anything along those lines is just so unimportant when you look at the big picture of the world that they reside in.

Gale may not be very present in the movie and there are a few other things that fans will notice missing or changed. But I assure you, you will not be disappointed this is great adaptation. I saw this movie on a sneak preview screening, I walk in with my brother in tow at this point everyone is seated. I gaze out at a sea of mostly 12-16 year old girls, you can tell they are all DYING to see the movie there is a constant buzz in the air all you can make out is “Katniss” “Gale” mumble giggle”Peeta”. The movie starts and people are being shushed for touching their popcorn this before the Lionsgate logo has even disappeared. Key moments in the movie, im sure you can guess which ones, you can literally hear a pin drop as the collective breath of the audience is held. At one point all of row 6 is crying their damn eyes out it was quite interesting to sit through a great movie being watched by hardcore fans having a fantastic time.

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23 thoughts on “Review: The Hunger Games

  1. Hello,
     
    I had the chance to watch this movie yesterday. Honestly, I didn’t like it at all. Moreover, when I was walking out of the movie theatre I was kind of looking down since I felt a bit ashamed of myself. The beginning is promising since it catchs your attention. There are just some attractive scenes, because of their backgrounds, settings (there may have been some investment there). And a couple of actors do a good job, in my opinion:  Stanley Tucci (Caesar Flickerman) and  Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark). I prefer not to talk about what I didn’t like. Too much. I am not a teenager anymore. Maybe that’s why??. I just would change what is said above: “a must see film for all ages”  to: “Maybe someone likes this movie. Not a  demmanding movie lover, for sure”.
    Sorry for being so hard.xd. I think it could have been much better. Looks like they didn’t devote a lot of time on this movie. Not as much as it required.
    Regards!

  2. Hi, Nice Image, thanks for this like this king of article and i also see this movie. Thanks Hunger Games movie

  3. I so agree with the ‘vacuum’ effect! I thought it was particularly well done in the very beginning of the Games, as well as being a great technique to somewhat tone done the carnage (while at the same time making the deaths more dramatic) for the PG13 rating. Genius!

  4. This movie gets compared to Twilight a lot. How are they connected? Just curious to what people think. I would not think a vampire, love story could carry the same meaning as a dystopian death match. Is it because they are geared toward the same audience?

    1. Yup same audience, other than that you can only make the loosest of connections. Another reason for the comparison would be that this is Lionsgate’s attempt getting their own Twilight so they too can pull in the insane amounts a franchise of that caliber can bring in.

  5. I totally agree that this film needed some narration. I have not read the books but the movie was good enough to make me want to, now with that being said lets get started. The story line was great the acting from the new comers was blaa (the little girl did a great job look out for her) the vets were good because that’s what they do. I know there targeted audience but it would have been a much better movie if it were R rated they dropped the ball on the love interest because I couldn’t tell she really liked anyone, not more than a friend anyway. I did’t know the mom mentally checked out I thought she was just quite. Camera shakes are so unnecessary in a movie unless you are trying to make people mad at you. They would have done better if it was longer that way they could have gone deeper with the characters rather than overviews, but what do I know about spending millions.This movie was colorful “literally” and entertaining. I give it a 7 and will await part 2. Hey does anybody remember The Running Man

    1. Yes that was part of my point. in the book it is well established that Katniss’ mom had a mental break down after her father died but they missed the mark in portraying that accurately in the film. It seemed to me more that Katniss was just really disrespectful towards her mother and had I not known the back monologue would have assumed as much.

      1. I agree its a shame that part wasnt fleshes out further but I noticed in the movie very subtle hints. Katniss tucking in the sisters shirt only for us to see the sister perform the same act before she takes that first step after being called up as a tribute.

  6. It dragged the first hour and then I would say the last 40 minutes were interesting bit nothing to write home about…This movie reminds me of that movie with Running Man.

  7. Thos is by far, one of the worst movies I have.ever seen. The film had no point. I mean, jlw is it that a society with the levels of technology such as hovering machines and instantaneous genetic manipulation could be having hunger and housing problems, really?? not to mention that all the actors were well fed and for people that were selected at ramdom each one had great survival skills. I have to rate it “I want my money back”!!

  8. I’m 50/50 on this film. The more I reflected on it, however, I lean towards the negative side of the 50 so to speak. I haven’t read the books, watching the film did make me want to read up on as much as I possibly could in respect to ‘cheat/cliff notes’ online. Mainly because it felt like there was material missing, which is to be expected in a book adaptation to film. Or in some cases, I wondered how much more detailed various aspects were, characterization and in particular the violence.

    So much was done to setup a dramatic visual tone with how the Districts were versus the Capitol. Yet I feel the contrast of ‘The Hunger Games’ should have been more brutalizing. It’s not the want for glorified violence, with decapitations, etc. I just wanted more impact from the games themselves, you’re teased with the sense reality in respect to the mature themes that are being carried. Yet we’re only shown brief moments and in most cases have to work hard to make sense of what is going on-screen due to the cinematography – which I absolutely did not enjoy.

    Ross inexplicably decides to apply ‘shaky camera’ to everything. It works early on and I expected it to be some type of artistic visual contrast once things get ‘steady’ camera wise in the Capitol, like a purposeful relief. But as the film continued, it wasn’t purposeful, it was just scattered, the close ups became jarring, the fight scenes were masked in respect to what was actually going on, even a zoom in on a loaf of bread couldn’t be simple. I think it’s a bad thing when I could make more sense of what was going on in Cloverfield’s chaos versus this film. Ross shakes the camera during what is happening and steadies it afterward to show the result. So when you work to try to understand what’s happening on-screen all you get is ‘something, something, something, this character has just died’. At least that’s how I felt.

    However I do think this is Ross’ intent, mainly due to the rating, the intended general audience and it allows for a faux-violence throughout the film. Because it’s obvious the studio wants The Hunger Games saga to be Twilight/Harry Potter big, while not being Twilight in it’s more well ‘Twilight’ audience, which is also obvious in the casting.

    There are moments where the cinematography does carry well, I can think of scenes, which are definitely memorable for myself, but I won’t state simply due to spoilers. Movies allow something that books do not. And I wish this aspect was exploited a lot more. I wanted more focus, more exploration in the environment and how the characters interacted with it. I wanted perspectives from the tributes, which also felt like a missed opportunity. You get the moments with the Gamemakers with how they react to their product as it unfolds live, and it’s moments like that, which remind me of the magic of say, The Truman Show. It’s a question as to how the source material will translate film wise in the future, with what happens in the sequels. The casting was great and I did appreciate how contained this first movie was and the ripples it does create story wise. Another thing I thought was well done were the fine details in respect to the costume design.

    Other than that, I enjoyed reading your review Erik.

    1. Hey Elliot, thank you for the feed back and thoughts as always its a fun read. I agree fully the shaky camera while I feelt it fit (the vast majority of the time) it had to be to some degree because of the MPAA rating.

      I was fully expecting a movie that had been toned down on the violence side because lets face it, the book is violent. Instead I was treated to a level of violence that was true to the film and in my opinion appropriate for the audience to which it is aimed.

      Look for a review on Friday or Saturday for Wrath of the Titans… hurray? haha

    2. Interesting thoughts!

      “Mainly because it felt like there was material missing, which is to be expected in a book adaptation to film.”

      See, I read the book before going to see the film, and truth be told, not a LOT is missing (I mean, there are a few subplots/changes, but nothing that would make the movie less comprehensible). So I do think that the movie is faulty if it made you feel like you were missing information. Of course a screen adaptation can’t be 100% faithful to the book, but truth be told, it should operate smoothly in its own universe.

  9. I have to be honest. I was dissapointed in the film. Peeta didn’t look how I envisioned him from the description in the book, they didn’t mention the Seam and the grey eyes that all from the Seam have, which I might add Catniss’ eyes were not grey. Madge who gave the pin to Catniss was cut from the script, where was greasy Sae? I mean it is called the Hunger Games and as my husband pointed out (who did not read any of the books I might add), not one of them looked as though they were starving. The movie would have benefited from Catniss narrating during the film so that viewers who haven’t read the books and couldn’t fill in the blanks would know that her father dies leaving her to care for her family when her mother mentally checked out, it would have strenghthened her relationship whith Gale and explained her necessity for ill…egally hunting. Haymitch should have been drunk more often and the first time Peeta asked him for advice he doesn’t say don’t get killed, her prep team should have loudly spoken of her body hair and overall appearance to give an accurate depiction of what is important to the capital and how truly clueless capitol residents are to the serious conditions the districts face. There was no note in the parachuttes, I thought that particular touch was lazy and lacking in imagination where wasn’t the whole point she needed to think like Haymitch to gain sponsors and items she needed? I hope they put more thought into the next 3 films and revise whatever they have so far to make it so much more. The books are great and the movies have the potential to be as well if they really put forth the appropriate amount of time and effort. One thing that I did find to be an added bonus was being able to watch the gamemakers in action during the games. Nice touch.

    1. Even though a ton of backstory was left out I dont think it would have made for a very entertaining movie if we had to wait the majority of the movie for the “games” to start.
      With a big boxoffice success at its back hopefully the next one will be less “games” and more story. Did miss greasy Sae(?), never did see the point for the majors dull daughter, alltho she does play a key “role” in the later books. Gamemaster scenes were really good I agree : )

  10. nice review except for two small but yet important issues.
    1… T-bone Burnett James AND Newton Howard.Is this a bit like Jerry Zimmer and Hans Goldsmith ?
    2.In a film blog one should always spell check before making mistakes on words like cinematography.
     

  11. Just back from this movie and personally I wasn’t … mmmm, how should I say this … too found of it. It was too Twilightish, just not my cup of tea.

    Happy it was a free ticket ;)

    1. Hey free tickets are always nice!
      Thank you for the comment, we are in the process of upgrading the commenting system, in its current form we are aware its slow as dirt : D

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