Friday, March 30, 2012

The Hunger Games (Non-Spoiler Review)

The Hunger Games is more filling than the name suggests.

Apart from the massive headache induced on me by the documentary-style shaking of the camera (even when not much is happening might I add, but worse when it’s a fight scene you’re trying to follow) The Hunger Games lives up to the hype. In preparation for the film I read the first two books of the trilogy earlier this week (in the middle of the third currently) they seemed good enough, pretty easy reads since they were geared for teens, so if you’re looking for some new, light reading material you should give it a try. I can’t decide if it’s better to have read them prior to seeing the movies or not though… So I guess I’ll lay down the facts and let you decide.

The film is set in the future, where America is now a place called Panem. The twelve districts of Panem, in repentance for their uprising years prior, are forced to give up two tributes each, one male one female, between the ages of 12-18 years old, to participate in a gruesome, televised battle to the death, in an arena of wilderness, until one victor arises in a pageant that shall only be known as ‘The Hunger Games’. 

From the get-go the movie drops you in the middle of the fear and anxiety felt by every teenager in District 12. When Primrose Everdeen, the much younger sister of the skilled hunter with a bow and arrow Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), is selected as the female tribute, Katniss steps up and volunteers herself in a touching scene that would bring tears to your eyes… if you cry for everything like I do. The other tribute from District 12 is Peeta Meelark, played by Josh Hutcherson (yes, he’s the big brother from Zathura, and all grown up). They both are mentored by the only previous District 12 winner of The Hunger Games, Haymitch Abernathy, a drunk, blunt yet amusing character who offered the most comic relief for the film, beautifully portrayed by Woody Harrelson. Effie Trinket is their quirky and optimistic escort played by Elizabeth Banks, while Lenny Kravitz pulls off their fabulous stylist, Cinna with ease (who knew right?). President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and the head Gamemaker, Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley) were fittingly cast as well but Stanley Tucci shines as the host of the reality show. The story gets complicated as there seems to be a budding romance between Katniss and Peeta, the irony lying in the fact that at least one of them will die in the games. Gale (Liam Hemsworth) is Katniss’s hunting partner and best friend in District 12 and we can see the typical triangle foundation forming. 

The action is immediate when the games begin. Teenagers turn into gladiators when the survival mentality kicks in and brutally chop, kick, stab and shoot their competition without thinking twice. It’s quite entertaining but sometimes hard to follow as it desperately needed more steady-camera shots (again, thanks for the headache Gary Ross).

My concerns, however, is that it lacked character development as well as scene development. If you haven’t read the books, you may have a cornucopia (*wink wink*) of unanswered questions as many explanations were ‘implied’ rather than properly conveyed. Maybe these would be addressed in the sequels. On the flip side, if you have read the books you may be wondering where some characters went and why they altered tiny bits of the storyline. Apart from these minor points it pretty much stayed true to the essence of the book.

All in all, it was a very respectable try; touching, good storyline, action packed, a bit of comedy and intriguing with just a touch of romance. Definitely not as good as the book, but it’s worth watching, so go see it! :)

Rating: 8/10

Thanks for reading! And as always comments are welcome..
Kim :)