FINALLY WATCHED IT. I can barely think of writing as objectively as I normally would, I’m just so happy. Okay. Calm down, Alexa. Here goes.
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD. Some book and movie comparisons will also be made.
The Hunger Games is the first film in four movies (says this) based on the trilogy of the same name by Suzanne Collins. Set in dystopian Panem composed of twelve districts (originally thirteen, but the thirteenth was obliterated), an annual event which requires a boy and girl tribute from each district summons Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) from District 12 to fight to the death against other tributes in an enclosed arena. Because the Hunger Games can only accept one victor, no tribute feels safe. Each of them has to fight for his or her survival, all the while being watched by everyone in Panem. As things get darker in every turn, Katniss has to learn how to outsmart the other tributes in order to emerge the victor. A lot of complications get in the way, of course, but it’s only just the beginning.
I first heard of The Hunger Games, from my best friend who loved reading YA, sometime in 2009. I was intrigued because I’d just read the short story by Shirley Jackson called The Lottery, and the themes were similar. When I heard that it was going to be turned into a movie, I was torn between feeling wildly delighted or worried that it might not turn out the way I expected it to. I know most people think this as well, so let me stop all that worrying by saying that: No. You have nothing to be worried about. The movie was brilliant. Let me explain. (At this point, there will be SPOILERS. You have been forewarned.)
We all have our expectations of how the movie will turn out – which scenes will be included, how they will reenact each scene, etc. – and I have found most of the movie remain faithful to the book. Some scenes were different, but they were necessary and added more to the story. I liked some of the changes they made, like how they killed off Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley) at the end, and the brief scene which revealed the more sinister side of President Snow (Donald Sutherland). I think this faithfulness to the events that occurred in the book – and how Suzanne Collins was part of the team that wrote the screenplay – was how Lions Gate won the series over against bigger rivals. And despite this faithfulness to the book, they were able to show the movie from different perspectives, not merely Katniss’s – the Gamemakers, the Capitol, people from the districts, even Gale – and this was a change that I liked wholeheartedly. Seeing the Gamemakers make changes to the terrain and creatures in the arena, in addition to all the other perspectives, added a new level of understanding yo the points of view of the characters in the movie.
I absolutely, from the bottom of my heart, commend everyone’s acting. I had a different cast on my mind, but now I understand why they were chosen for their respective roles. They were perfect. Jennifer Lawrence did a terrific job playing Katniss. Despite her character’s trademark stoic expression, Lawrence managed to portray her very well. Katniss did show some emotion later on, and Lawrence managed to do that pretty well, too. Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth actually really fit their roles. Stanley Tucci was convincing as Caesar Flickerman, as are Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, and Lenny Kravitz, who played Effie Trinket, Haymitch, and Cinna, respectively. I adored Wes Bentley as Seneca Crane. I especially love the design of his beard. Kind of fits him, as a matter of fact. The tributes themselves were very good. Alexander Ludwig and Amandla Stenberg as Cato and Rue were my personal favorites. The whole cast was great, really, but I would just like to say how I loved Donald Sutherland’s portrayal of President Snow best. President Snow did not have that many scenes, but he was in the last (which lasted about thirty seconds) and I personally think it made quite an impact. Sutherland’s just so amazing. He managed to show his contempt of those rebellious “star-crossed lovers” remarkably well, with expressions as subtle as the curling of a lip. Hands down, my favorite portrayal. I couldn’t imagine anybody else who could have done it better.
The effects and the score was good, too. They showed Katniss twirling her dress, flames and all, and it looked fabulous. And you know that part in the book where Katniss hallucinated due to the trackerjackers’ bites? I loved how they showed that. The Cornucopia’s not as I imagined it to be – it was more of gold and smooth in my imagination – but it worked for the final scenes, which is enough for me. I love the costume design and makeup aspect. The Capitol and its people were just as I imagined them! They all look colorful, which reminds me of the characters from Alice in Wonderland.
Overall, it was a really good film. One of the more faithful – and more impressive – book-to-film adaptations I have seen in a while. You really shouldn’t miss it. And if you haven’t read the book, please please do so as well! The movie is the perfect companion to it.
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In a nutshell…