Every once in awhile a film craze hits the movie world. Usually rising from some book series, often with popularity somewhere between cult favorite and juggernaut, a series of films are derived from this particular source material that turns many screen lovers, and young teenagers, mad. We’ve seen it with Harry Potter, sadly Twilight and even with series on TV with Game of Thrones. Across the years there have also been unsuccessful attempts at a new book to film franchise with the likes of Eragon being nothing more than critical, and more importantly, box-office failures. In 2012, with Harry Potter dun and dusted and Twilight crawling ever so slowly to its end, a new translation was needed. So, The Hunger Games stepped in.
The Hunger Games is a book trilogy, recently written, by Suzanne Collins. Even though the series was popular way before the film rights were sold, there is no doubt that a lot more people know about the existence of this sci-fi dystopian melodramatic thriller. The book is directed towards teenagers, and is set in a futuristic world were a Capitol state controls 12 other subordinate states, used to be 13 but one got annihilated, and every year ‘The Hunger Games’ are done were a boy and girl are chosen from each district to fight in the arena to the death. The protagonist is Katniss, and the movie is told from her perspective.
Any book to film translation faced the daunting task of being respectful enough to the source material while making the necessary changes so the film would be possible. Not everything that is written in the book can be shown in the film and that completely acceptable.
Forgetting the book, as a movie The Hunger Games, directed by Gary Ross is a really entertaining production. It stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, Elizabeth Banks, and Donald Sutherland who all give a good account of themselves, with the only exceptions being Hemsworth as Gale and Kravitz as Cinna who comes off as wooden. Harrelson and Banks steal every scene they are in, with Banks portraying Effie Trinket as over-the-top as needed and Harrelson portraying the drunken former winner Haymitch as toned down as needed to make him more instantly likeable in the film.
Jennifer Lawrence is going to be a worldwide star, and god she deserves it. A really mesmerizing performance, where she portrays Katniss with the maturity and power that the characters has in the book. She never over acts and there are times when her eyes can say a thousand words. Hutcherson is also a good choice for Peeta.
The plot is pretty much identical to the book, with just some minor details changed. I will not give away most of them for risk of spoilers, but some do help and others hinder this translation. For example, during the games the technology used by the game masters is actually expanded on in the movie which was great to watch. On the other hand the relationship between Peeta and Katniss is not quite as convincing, with minor details (including the ending) being altered and other moments, like Katniss reaction to the announcement that two victors will be allowed, being changed that do weaken the core relationship of the trilogy. Considering the significance the love story plays in the following two books this could have a greater effect on the sequels.
Also the film seems more suited to children than teenagers. The main story is still gruesome, but some scenes are definitely toned down in intensity (The finale again comes to mind). The action is good throughout, but never mind-blowing either, but that’s fine since the book never calls for big explosions either. The Capitol also suffers from this, with the city never feeling particularly threatening. The city is hardly shown, and mostly is portrayed as a city with people wearing freaky clothes. That’s all the depth that it’s given, thankfully Sutherland has some good scenes as President Snow to add some venom to the circus.
The Hunger Games is a good start to what hopefully will end up being a good trilogy. It’s better than most book to film translations and in my opinion has had a stronger start than the likes of Harry Potter and Twilight had, with the series really starting off on a strong foot. If nothing the film is worth watching for the lead’s performance.
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Movie Mood: Action Movie
Viewing Method: Other
Film Completeness: Looked complete to me.
Worst Part of this Film: Ending