“The Hunger Games” – Review by MovieManMenzel

The moment everyone has been waiting for is here.

The Hunger Games takes place in a not so distant future where the country is divided into various districts and the Capitol controls all. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and her sister Primrose (Willow Shields) live in District 12 and are afraid to be picked as part of the lottery to participate in the 74th annual Hunger Games. These games are a live television show where 24 people, two from each district, must fight one another to survive as the rest of the world watches. Primrose is originally picked as one of the representatives of their district, but Katniss steps in to take her place. She along with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) must now prepare to fight to the death even though only one of them can be crowned champion.

Wow, I must admit that I have never read these books, but man after seeing this first film of the planned trilogy; I am really looking forward to reading these books.  The movie itself is something that I feel right off the bat will be a huge hit for Lionsgate. Fans of the book series will more than likely fall in love with this film because I heard based on various conversations occurring afterwards that this was pretty close to how the book took place. The film itself is engaging and seems to have a mass appeal from everyone who enjoys romance films to those who enjoy things such as Lord of the Rings and Braveheart.  This is definitely not a Twilight franchise. There are plenty of things that both males and females will both adore about the film.

I really enjoyed this film; however, after seeing The Cabin in the Woods early last week, I feel that this movie and that one have some similarities. I know that this film was based on a novel written earlier then Cabin so my guess is that Cabin borrowed some ideas from the Hunger Games story and made it into its own.  I am sure most people are scratching their heads wondering what I am doing comparing two films, especially when one that has yet to be released, but they are both being released by Lionsgate and have a similar theme so I am teasing you to see both of them, because they are both worthy of your time and money.

The Hunger Games is probably one of the most intense films that I have seen with a PG-13 rating. The movie is extremely violent and deals with a lot of death including the death of young teenagers. The action scenes are really well crafted and there is a pretty fair amount of blood in this film. It’s odd after seeing this film why so many females would adore something like this because it really seems like a guy movie with a female lead. The whole plot also seems more “guy” related than something that majority of females would enjoy at least when you compared them to the romance genre of things like Twilight.

Jennifer Lawrence is absolutely terrific in this film. When watching this film, you can just see her becoming a bigger and bigger star as the film goes on. I love watching films like this because they help launch careers of those who normally would have gone unnoticed. I personally have seen Lawrence in various films before like X-Men: First Class & Winter’s Bone, but this film is what is going to make her into being a household name. She definitely deserves it to because she gives one hell of a performance.

Speaking of the performances, the entire young adult cast is all terrific with not a single person being a weak link even Mr. teen angst, Josh Hutcherson is surprisingly stellar as well as newbie Amandla Stenberg as Rue. There are way too many people to name when looking at the cast of 24 teenagers, so I won’t go through them all, but trust me the young adults steal this film from all the adult actors, which leads me into the only weak element of the film.

The only weak link in the entire film in my humble opinion is how mediocre and over the top the adult actors are.  I felt that Woody Harrelson while good in his role played the part a bit too much like every other character that I have seen him play in previous films. I also had an issue with Elizabeth Banks as Effie. I think the big named stars picked to play lead roles in this film hurt the overall effect this movie had on me because I couldn’t separate the actors from the characters they were playing.  This was a film that I felt needed all unknown actors to make it really work. I also felt that the adults acting compared to Lawrence as well as the rest of the younger actors didn’t even begin to compare. These young actors made people like Harrelson and Tucci look like amateurs in the film.

Director Gary Ross does a brilliant job capturing this world that the Hunger Games is set in. It felt like the perfect mix of futuristic society mixed with medieval times. The way the film is shot really builds suspense and captures some really powerful moments. There are some scenes in this film that you can’t help but get choked up and most will probably cry. There are some tough scenes in this one so be prepared by bringing some tissues. Ross really knows how to capture both the emotional moments as well as the action sequences. He is a total pro behind the camera.

At the end of the day, this is one film that really delivers on almost everything it promises, but lacks some character development as a whole.  The trailers and TV spots make you believe that this was going to be a great film and after seeing it, I completely agree. This movie has everything that one would want from a film of this caliber. Is it a groundbreaking film that will change cinematic history forever? No, but it is one of the best films that I have seen in 2012 and is one that is an absolutely blast to watch. I deeply enjoy films that challenge me to think, but at the same time entertain me and make me feel for characters that likable and worth rooting for.  For fans of these series, I think you are going to be in heaven and for those who have wondered what the hell The Hunger Games is all about; I recommend that you see this film because you are definitely in for a real treat!

MovieManMenzel’s final rating for The Hunger Games is a 8 out of 10.

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