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The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games: Bestselling Book Trilogy Comes to Screen

  • Elizabeth BanksJennifer Lawrence...
  • Action & AdventureDrama...
  • Gary Ross
reviewed by
Yasmin Shehab
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The Hunger Games: Bestselling Book Trilogy Comes to Screen

The year’s first blockbuster has arrived and just in time seeing as Harry Potter is done and Twilight’s demise is, thankfully,
nearing. Based on Suzanne Collins’ bestselling trilogy, The Hunger Games is an adaptation of the first book in the series.
The story takes place in a dystopian future in a country called Panem that is
divided into the very wealthy Capitol and twelve poverty stricken districts
that supply it with all of its needs. The Hunger Games are an annual event in
which two kids from each of the twelve districts, a girl and a boy between the ages of twelve
and eighteen, are thrown together in an arena and forced to battle to the
death. Twenty four tributes go in, only one comes out. The Games are mandatory
viewing, are televised all across Panem and are used as a way of humiliating
and suppressing the districts and keeping them under the Capitol’s heel. The
film follows Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence), district twelve’s female tribute, who
volunteered for the role after her younger sister was chosen.

As an adaptation of the book, the film outshines the original material in
parts and lags in others. On the one hand, the film brings out the political
undertones far better and far more explicitly than in the books. It also
fleshes out the film’s universe pretty well, setting the stage for the events coming up in the sequels. On the other hand though, the film has a pacing problem.
Approximately half the film goes by before the Hunger Games even start which
results in a rather leisurely first half and a condensed, rushed second one.

Several of the characters aren’t given enough time for their
relationships with Katniss to develop on screen, sorely affecting the dramatic side
of things. Moments that should have been devastating or highly meaningful are
reduced of their impact because the characters seem disconnected which is a
huge shame because the roles are perfectly cast all across the board; resulting in a really strong, talented combination.

Two actors in particular stand out though; Lawrence and Tucci. Lawrence
as the film’s lead, is incredible. She’s tough, fierce and lethal yet
vulnerable and consumed with love for her younger sister. She can handle a bow
and arrow like an expert, climbs trees like she was born in one and can
easily tell apart edible plants from poisonous ones. In other words, she’s the
definition of badass. Tucci, decked out in a blue wig, plays Ceaser, the
presenter of the Hunger Games, and he commands every scene he’s in. He’s a fireball
of charisma, winking and charming his way through the film.

The level of violence that you can get away with in a book for teens is
far bloodier and more gruesome than anything they’d be allowed to show on
screen. So this film which is basically a bloodbath of kids murdering each
other in the most awful ways mainly consists of implied violence and a shaky
camera obscuring everything.

Despite its unevenness, the film has moments of greatness and should
result in far more cohesive sequels. We’re given an incredible female
protagonist who’s a real fighter and doesn’t spend her time fawning over
guys even though she’s at the centre of a love triangle. Also, its vision of
the future is rather chilling and could easily be read as a commentary on our
modern day society be it reality television, classism, capitalism or fascism.
Refreshingly, The Hunger Games is highly entertaining but thought provoking at the same time.

Like This? Try

Battle Royale, Blade Runner, The Handmaid’s Tale

360 Tip

The film made $152.5 million in its opening weekend in the US which makes it the biggest box office debut for a non-sequel film and the third biggest opening weekend for any film behind The Dark Knight and the last Harry Potter instalment.

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