The Hunger Games was one of the most anticipated movies this year, and it came at the perfect time. Fans that need a new series to sink their teeth into with Harry Potter over, and Twilight ending in a few months. It’s safe to say at this point that The Hunger Games has taken over the stand as the new trilogy that everyone is obsessed with.
The film tells the story of Panem, the ruins of what remains of North American. The nation now broken up into 12 districts after an uprising which didn’t turn out so well. As on-going reminder of who has the power, the government requires that each district send one boy and one girl (between the ages of 12 and 18) to take part in The Hunger Games (a nationally televised event). These “Tributes” from each district much fight against one another to the death. There is only one winner at the end, the sole survivor. While some districts train their youth their whole lives for the event, Katniss Everdeen has not. When her sister is selected as the female Tribute from their district, Katniss volunteers herself to go instead. The male Tribute selected, Peeta Mellark, is also someone that Katniss knows and has a history with. After arriving at the Capitol and training together, Katniss discovers that Peeta may or may not be in love with her – and thus finds herself facing impossible decisions between life and love once she enters the arena.
There are a couple minor changes in the film that don’t match up with the books. A few minor characters such as at the Mayor and Madge Undersee have been cut, the way the mockingjay pin was acquired is different (obviously since Madge is MIA), and Peeta’s dad doesn’t come to Katniss before she leaves District 12. However, I didn’t notice anything that would make fans terribly upset. With any film adaptation of a successful book series, it’s important to remember it’s just a movie.
There was one particular element that got a little annoying throughout the film, and that was the shaky camera filming. In a number of the action scenes, it’s a little difficult to watch because of all of the bouncing around. While I definitely can see that a certain degree of this style can add to the grittiness feeling of the scene – there’s also a point where it becomes a little to Blair-Witchy for my tastes. Sure, it is madness, we get that – but director Gary Ross actually dilutes the effect that scenes are supposed to have on the audience, because we simply can’t see what’s really going on.
The special effects are also a little disappointing – especially those that take place at the Capital. From Katniss and Peeta’s on-fire costumes to the digital events used to create the hordes of people, something just looks off. Hopefully for the next film, they’ll have a larger budget to play with, and we will see improvement in this area.
Jennifer Lawrence does a tremendous job at Katniss. She may be the only one of the core characters that was perfectly cast. When the cast was first announced, fans of the book series had plenty to say about the picks – especially the roles of Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). While we don’t see much of Gale in the first film, we see plenty of Peeta – and I’m inclined to agree in regards to his casting. While Hutcherson does a fine job at playing the damsel in distress (and I do love seeing the roles reversed for once and a girl saving the day), he’s not how I pictured him when reading the book. Everything else fit pretty solidly with what I imagined. I’m interested to know if book fans will feel the same way.
I would definitely say that having read the books, you’ll pick up on some things in the film that might be lost on others. However, that being said, the film goes into some backstories that the first book doesn’t – so that change serves as a fine addition to the film.
There as a reason this film was unbeatable at the box office for so many weeks at its first release. The Hunger Games has an important story to tell that in some eerie ways may make people take a closer look at the world we’re living in, and if that alone wasn’t enough – parents don’t have to freak out if their daughter wants to be just like Katniss (She’s so much cooler than Twilight‘s Bella!). She’s pretty kickass, and she’s not going to go crazy if she doesn’t have a man on her arm. The Hunger Games is something you can admire and not be ashamed to like.
The Blu-ray release includes a number of awesome featurettes including The World Is Watching: Making The Hunger Games, Letters from the Rose Garden, Controlling the Games, a Propaganda filming, and so much more! It’s definitely worth picking up for the features alone – but either way, The Hunger Games should be apart of your movie collection!
The Hunger Games is available on DVD tonight (8/17) at midnight!
Review By: Emma Loggins