Release Date: March 23, 2012
Director: Gary Ross
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland
When a popular book is turned into a movie, die-hard fans of the book are sure to watch the movie with a critical eye and point out lots of little things that didn’t make the jump from page to screen. With The Hunger Games, the new movie based on the incredibly popular Suzanne Collins trilogy, this isn’t going to work. If you’re going to see The Hunger Games, you better stop being distracted by what isn’t in the movie and focus on all the fantastic stuff that’s on screen.
From the very first shot, you know this is going to be very different. Like all book adaptations, they had to scale down the immense amount of detail in the book for the screen; despite being 2 1/2 hours long, a lot of the movie still feels rushed. However, they fleshed out the movie by adding new things that aren’t in the book, which I thought was interesting. If you’re a die-hard fan of the book and can overlook some plot incongruences, you’ll find that this movie captures the feeling of reading the book perfectly.
Like the books, things really pick up once the Games start. The Games are emotional, brutal, and fast-paced, but shot with a lot of hand-held cameras. This may bother some people who dread another Blair Witch Project, but it works well for the intense and intimate nature of the Games.
I would not be surprised if this movie was up for a few technical Oscars. Through all the shaky camera, there are a few genuinely beautiful moments of photography. District 12 looks like the slum you’ve always imagined. Make all the Lady Gaga jokes you want, but you can’t deny that The Capitol looks fantastic and true to the book.
Almost all of the raw emotion in the movie comes from the stellar child actors that are forced to fight to the death and the adults of the Capitol that surround them. I have never seen so many genuinely depressed and terrified kids as I have in the Reaping scene and it sent chills down my spine. The first minutes of the Games at the Cornucopia had more emotion than all of Twilight. Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, who I was concerned wouldn’t be a good Peeta, really shined on screen. Without these actors, the movie would not have worked; they are the forces that drive the movie from start to finish.
This is not the book that we know and love, but an adaptation that does something new with it. It’s faithful in tone, but takes some liberties in the plot that, in my opinion, work well. While it does feel rushed, as all book movies do, you’ll walk out of the theater feeling worn out and relieved after going through the whirlwind of emotion and action that is The Hunger Games.
– Brian Hamilton
THE HUNGER GAMES – IN THEATERS NOW!