It’s hard for me to review this movie and not compare it to the book, so please bear with me on this. ‘The Hunger Games’ is a series of books written by Suzanne Collins that is now being turned into a motion picture phenomenon. I was very anxious to see ‘The Hunger Games’ mainly because of the huge hype the movie has been getting. To prepare for this movie, I decided to read the books themselves and compare them to the movie. So did I enjoy ‘The Hunger Games’? I did, very much actually. However was I fully blown away by the film? The answer to that sadly is no. While the movie did capture the tone of the book in several parts, many important plot points for the trilogy were left out for no reason at all. I would love to rant about what they took out and changed from the book all day long, but I can’t because that would spoil not only this story, but the entire trilogy. So let me end of this paragraph by saying this: ‘The Hunger Games’ is an exciting, fast paced, film that not only captures the powerful tone of the book but can also be considered one of the best book adaptations in many years. (Not including ‘Harry Potter‘)
The cast of this movie is fantastic if I must say so. Jennifer Lawrence had a big responsibility carrying an entire 2 and a half hour film mostly on her own. However her portrayal of Katniss Everdeen is incredible and the perfect casting choice for any lead role recently. The character of Katniss goes through a lot in the first book, so adapting all of what she goes through could not be done unless the film were three hours. I’m just happy to see that the character of Katniss stayed exactly the same in the transition from book to screen. Lawrence isn’t Oscar material by any means, but her performance is powerful and kinetic. The supporting players of the film are what really steal the show when Lawrence is doing something that isn’t exciting on screen. Josh Hutcherson is good for what the script gave him, but there was more to be desired from Peeta after seeing his depth in the books. Liam Hemsworth, the brother of ‘Thor‘ star Chris Hemsworth, is very good for his brief scenes with his character, Gale. I cannot wait to see this character develop and blossom over the next three films. The best performances from the supporting players come from the following four actors: Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, and Lenny Kravitz.
Woody Harrelson plays Haymitch, the only former tribute from a previous Hunger Games who is now a drunken mess. Even though Harrelson is playing basically the same role as he’s played in a million other films, he is absolutely perfect for the role of the drunken wise ass. Elizabeth Banks is everything I imagined the character of Effie Trinket to be in the film. The character of Effie is a bitchy, obsessed, and wacked out of her mind woman who cares more about the glamour and drama of the Games rather than the tributes themselves. Stanley Tucci surprised me as Ceaser Flickerman, the talk show host of the Capitol. While his character isn’t very big in the book, Tucci owns the character of Flickerman with his charm and funny ways. Plus the way they used his character in the film during the games was really cool because it was the inner monologue of Katniss but put out in a way that regular audience members can understand what’s going on. Lenny Kravitz for the brief time he had on screen was also great as Cinna, Katniss’ stylist. He is the only guy who genuinely cares about Katniss in the capitol, and his role was also pitch perfect. I felt the roles of President Snow and Seneca Crane weren’t needed in the film, but they helped carry the story along. This movie would have been less than great if the supporting cast wasn’t there to help out, even though Katniss still owns the movie.
I have seen the movie two times by the time I’m posting this, and let me tell you it holds up very nicely. I kept nitpicking the film on my first showing and I really didn’t want to go back. I’m glad I did, because my rating went up a bit. ‘The Hunger Games’ is a fast paced, emotionally gripping, and action packed movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat and your focus on the film for the surprisingly quick two and a half hour running time. The performances are superb, the story could have been better due to the thrown out contents from the book, and the film overall leaves the audience begging for ‘Catching Fire’ to come out as soon as possible. Gary Ross clearly knew what he was doing when he was making this film, even though he cut out some important plot points and the heavy violence needed, even though the film would’ve been rated R then. Despite these absences, ‘The Hunger Games’ is still a great film with heart, action, and a feeling of intense rush. I swear this movie is like a breath of air. Breath in, breathe out: that’s how the movie feels. Definitely check it out if you still can, and may the odds be ever in your favor.