The Hunger Games

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After seeing the film adaptation of the popular book by Suzanne Collins, I texted my brother and had this to say…

“Book’s better.”

He thought that should be my review. However that would NOT be doing this film justice. As much as I enjoyed the book and as much as I think the book IS better, I still think the movie stands alone as a good movie experience. Even if you are the last person on the planet who hasn’t read the book (apparently that would be my brother Frank), you can still go into this film and connect with the main characters and that alone makes it one you should see in the theaters.

The story is an easy one to follow…in the far future, our country has been divided into 12 districts. The ruling district is the host for a yearly event called the Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death between a boy and a girl picked from each district. From District 12, our heroine, Katniss Everdeen, is a hunter and good with a bow & arrow. Her younger sister gets picked to be one of the combatants but Katniss volunteers to take her place. From there, she is transported to the Capitol where she meets a cast of characters that include her mentor, Haymitch, her clothing designer, Cinna and the District 12 escort, Effie Trinkett. She is also paired up with her male District 12 counterpart, Peeta Mellark. What transpires after they go to the Capitol is part of the fun of watching this film so I’ll leave it at that and just say it gets tense and somewhat violent (although NOT as graphic as some reviewers make it out to be). 

If you’ve read the book, you’ve probably already decided whether you want to see it or not (its opening weekend was one of the biggest of any non-sequel ever!) so I doubt I’ll sway you one way or the other. But if you haven’t read the book, I think you might actually enjoy it a little more than someone who has. In the book, there are a lot of relationships that are developed that aren’t covered in the film. This happens all the time in adaptations so it didn’t surprise me however there was a shallowness to the relationships that left me wanting more having read the books and that made this film a little less enjoyable. If you haven’t read the books, you won’t know the difference so it won’t matter.

Overall, ALL of the performances were pretty spot on. The lead character, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is exactly how I had imagined her when reading the book and she is perfect in the way she plays Katniss. The mentor Haymitch, played with drunken fervor by Woody Harrelson, is dead on. Other cast members worth noting…Elizabeth Banks as the shallow yet lovable Effie, Josh Hutcherson is perfect as Peeta, Stanley Tucci as the host with the most, Caesar Flickerman and in a surprise turn, Lenny Kravitz as the designer Cinna. Kravitz was the pleasant surprise. All the others I EXPECTED to be good but Kravitz turned out to be the perfect choice for this memorable character and I can’t wait to see how he does in the next film (already scheduled for release in 2013) when he has a little more screen time.

Overall…this movie deserves the hype it’s been given. It’s a little early to call it a classic (some are touting it as better than the “Harry Potter” films and THAT just isn’t true) however I feel that the producers and writers of this film have done a pretty good job taking a beloved book and translating it to the big screen. Is it perfect? No. But few adaptations are and it’s my opinion that anyone who loves the book will thoroughly enjoy the movie…even if it does have a few flaws.

Overall Rating: A-

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