The biggest critics ‘The Hunger Games’ movie will have are the fans of the book, who will analyze every nook and cranny to make sure nothing was missed. As one of those fans, I will say I was satisfied with the finished product. I understand certain things need to get cut or changed around to fit better in the big screen and I wasn’t frustrated by the changes. No matter how much technology takes over the world, books will always have the upper hand, unless movies start getting a lot longer in order to be able to fit in every single detail. A lot of movies that are based on books make it hard for the audience that hasn’t read the books to understand half of what’s going on, but this is not the case with this movie; ANYBODY can understand what’s going on most of the time because they did an excellent job at explaining the most important subjects.
The movie is set in a not so distant future in Panem, which was once North America, and is made up of 12 districts. Each district produces some sort of product to the Capitol of the nation. After past uprisings, the Capitol in order to keep the masses under control came up with ‘The Hunger Games’. Each year a boy and a girl (ages 12-18) are chosen from each district and the 24 players are pitted against each other in a televised national event until only one is left alive and can be crowned victor.
The main character is 16 year old Katniss Everdeen(Jennifer Lawrence), who comes from the coal producing District 12. Despite her young age Katniss is the head of her household and her whole purpose in life is the survival of her family. Her main concern is her little sister Primrose (Willow Shields), who has reached the age to be entered into the drawing for the games. Gale (Liam Hemsworth) her best friend and hunting partner is the one person she can talk to about her life, as well as plot imaginary escapes and ways to get back at the Capitol for making them chess pieces in their cruel games.
On the day of the reaping (when kids get chosen for the games) Primrose is chosen and Katniss volunteers to take her place. Along with Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) the boy chosen from her district, they are dragged through all of the traditional events, led by their drunken mentor Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) a past victor of the games. All of the events are held in the extravagant Capitol, which is the only place that sees the games as entertainment while the rest of Panem suffers watching their children getting killed. After running through each event we eventually get to the games, the culminating point of the movie where each one is out for their own survival.
People might think Lawrence’s performance is dry, but I think she impersonated Katniss exactly how she is described in the book, a girl whose main priority whether it be at home in District 12 or in the games is survival. All other human emotions such as romantic love are far beyond her priorities. So, just a reminder to everyone, this is not a love story but a story of survival. The makeup work, which might have been mixed in with some computer graphics, was very well done, especially the parts concerning Hutcherson’s camouflaging. The thing this movie did the best though was making sure the audience understood what was going on, whether it be from actual written words at the beginning of the movie, one character signaling or mouthing to another, flashbacks, the announcer of the games Ceasar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) explaining step by step concepts, visuals such as a screen that shows the woods to let us know Katniss misses home or to let us see the layout of the arena where the games take place. I think that element alone will make the movie successful to those that haven’t read the books. I also have to give credit to the fact that the violence in the book wasn’t cut out much in the film, it is this rawness and cruelty that really drives the book so although it is shocking to see it on the big screen it was appreciated; I think either we have really trained kids to be ok with violence or that this film should be rated R.
Unfortunately, because of the detail and length of the books certain things were missed and a large part of it that felt rushed were human connections. Obviously in the book we see this relationships develop slowly, in the movie we are not quite sure how certain characters get so close or come to care for one another and I think that’s an element that would have been worth spending time on. Another major theme that was missed was ‘hunger’, the audience has no real sense of how poor and starved the people that don’t live in the Capitol are; hence the reason for Katiniss’ drive and ability to survive.
Surprisingly despite the depressing subject of the movie there was some comedy worked into it, which perhaps a little more couldn’t have hurt. Also, it was nice being able to see some other characters point of views since the books are told mainly just from Katniss’ experiences. The audience I watched the movie with were half fans of the books and half people that haven’t read the books, the movie certainly captivated all because there was cheering, clapping, “awwing”, gasping and crying at various points of the movie; this was a crowd that let their emotions show. Without a doubt this is the most anticipated movie of 2012 and for the most part it fulfilled my expectations, I wouldn’t say it went beyond them but this is a note from a satisfied fan of the books to a now fan of the movie.