As some of you may know, I’ve been waiting for The Hunger Games to come to the big screen for quite some time. I was a huge fan of the books by Suzanne Collins and I couldn’t wait to see the story come to life and be something I could watch. I haven’t experienced a ton of book to film adaptations (where I’ve both read the book and watched the movie), but I assure you, you won’t be disappointed with this one. Now, get ready for a longwinded post because there’s a lot to talk about.
For those of you who haven’t read the books (which I suggest you do), The Hunger Games is a post-apocalyptic story that takes place in Panem — a land split up into 12 Districts. Because of a past uprising started by the citizens of Panem, the Capitol has enacted a yearly tradition, The Hunger Games, in order to keep everything in control. Every year, two tributes — one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18– are selected from each District to be entered into these said “games.” A total of 24 tributes are chosen, sent to the Capitol, trained, and entered into an arena to fight to the death until only one tribute remains… the victor. This story follows Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) who volunteers as the tribute for District 12 to save her sister, Primrose (Willow Shields), whose name was originally selected on the day of the reaping. Katniss is joined by Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), the boy from her District.
Where do I even start? Like I said, as an avid reader of the books, I wasn’t disappointed at all with this movie… I think the adaptation was great! Of course there were a few things that were missing, but you have to expect that… there’s simply not enough time to jam everything into a movie that’s two and a half hours long (I mean, I personally would’ve watched a ten-hour long movie, but that’s just me). The settings were fantastic… you understand the struggle of living in District 12, you get the over-the-top, glamour-filled lifestyle in the Capitol, and I could remember reading the book as I was brought though the different sections of the arena.The costuming in the movie was excellent as well — everything from the rags in District 12 to the riches in the Capitol. It’s one thing to read about the crazy outfits, makeup, and hairdos that the people of the Capitol don, but it’s another thing to actually see it. I also really liked seeing all the tributes in their showcasing outfits, particularly Katniss — you finally see what it’s like to see her as The Girl on Fire.
Now, to talk about some particular scenes. If you haven’t read the book, I don’t suggest you read this paragraph… consider this a spoiler alert. First, when Katniss volunteered as tribute, I got chills (even though I saw it 98643 times in the movie trailers on TV/online). You could just feel the tension as you’re waiting for tributes’ names to be pulled (again, even though I knew exactly what was going to happen). Second, I can’t not talk about the scene at the Cornucopia… it was nuts. The announcer was counting down the seconds to the start of The Hunger Games and I actually had anxiety for the tributes. I was on the edge of my seat and I had knots in my stomach. I don’t think I took a full breath until Katniss was safe in the woods. It was so intense — seeing these children fight to the death in order to save their own lives. Third, Rue’s death scene (insert sad face). If you thought this was sad in the book, get ready. The theater fell silent during this scene and you could hear sniffles from all the crying. This sounds lame, but it was a really powerful scene… you could really feel Katniss’ pain and sadness. Katniss and Rue had a very short-lived relationship, but it was still a strong one. There were plenty of other memorable scenes, but I think these were my top three.
Some things in the movie weren’t as I pictured them from the books — not that it matters, it was just interesting to see something differently from what I imagined it to be. The Cornucopia, for example. I was picturing this giant structure of some sort, but it looked like a tiny, steel playground. Second, I pictured the tracker jackers to be these huge, flying insects, but they looked like regular wasps. Lastly, I imagined the mutants to be a bit more grotesque… they were still scary though. There was one scene when a mutant jumps out at Peeta and Katniss and I definitely jumped. There were things that were spot on for me, too, though. For example, The Careers were just as obnoxious as I pictured them to be. They were the stereotypical “cool kids” in high school who took bullying to a whole new level. Cato (Andrew Ludwig) and Glimmer (Levin Rambin) were pretty much your typical jock-cheerleader couple with their
henchmen sidekicks, Clove (Isabelle Fuhrman) and Marvel (Jack Quaid).
Time to talk about some of the characters and the actors/actresses that played them…
Jennifer Lawrence did an amazing job as Katniss. I honestly can’t imagine anyone else playing this role. She was just as strong/loving/stern/awkward as I imagined her to be in the book. It might sound weird to list all those characteristics, but Katniss emitted different emotions for different people and Jennifer did a great job with all of them. Overall, Jennifer Lawrence is badass.
I really liked Josh Hutcherson as Peeta. I don’t have much to say, other than he stood true to the character in the book, I think. No complaints.
Although Liam Helmsworth (who played Gale) didn’t have a ton of screen time, I still think he did well in the scenes he was in. While Katniss and Gale are only friends, Liam did a good job at hinting toward those extra feelings that might be there. I think Liam’s time to shine will be in the next movies.
Stanley Tucci was an excellent Caesar Flickerman (host of The Hunger Games) — everything from his blue hair to his jolly facial expressions to his interviews with the tributes. It’s really hard to like anyone from the Capitol, but Stanley Tucci made it pretty easy to like Caesar… I actually think he’s one of my favorite characters now.
Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket… hilarious. Effie always looks her best… in a Capitol kinda way. She also always says the wrong things at the wrong times, but it’s always really funny… comedic relief much? Elizabeth was spot on with Effie’s clueless yet proper personality.
Woody Harrelson played a great drunkard AKA Haymitch Abernathy. I had a love-hate relationship with Haymitch in the books (more hate, I would say), but I actually liked him more in the movie, thanks to Woody. There were times when he had to be drunk, times when he had to be serious, and times when he had to be funny… he played all three well.
I have to be honest, I wasn’t too thrilled when I heard that Lenny Kravitz was playing Cinna (Katniss’ stylist), but I wasn’t bothered by this after seeing the movie. There’s much more to Katniss and Cinna’s relationship in the book, but Jennifer and Lenny had a great on-screen relationship and you could sense the immediate bond that they formed. I also learned from GMA that Jennifer is actually best friend’s with Lenny’s daughter, Zoe, after being in X-Men: First Class together. Maybe their off-screen relationship helped them on-screen.
Rue. Don’t even get me started. Amandla Stenberg did perfect. What more can I say? Amandla made me love Rue’s character even more than I already did. I hope to see more of her in the future.
Last, but certainly not least… President Snow being played by Donald Sutherland. You just get the sense of evil when you see President Snow and Donald did a great job of that. The Hunger Games was just the start to Snow’s evil ways and I’m excited to see Donald really channel his inner villain for the next movies.
There were plenty of characters that we saw — like Flavius (Nelson Ascencio) and Claudia (Brooke Bundy) — but didn’t really see them, if you know what I mean. I’m excited to go more in depth with these characters in the next movies. What I’d also love to see more of in Catching Fire and Mockingjay is more visuals of the other Districts. The only other District we got a glimpse of was District 11.
Hands down, I give The Hunger Games 5/5 stars. Go see it. You have to. I really suggest reading the books first though… they’re just so good. I just think it’s amazing that I still felt such strong emotions throughout the movie even though I knew exactly what was going to happen. The fact that the movie stayed so true to the book, too, is just so great I really look forward to Catching Fire, the next movie in this series. Writing this review makes me wanna go see the movie again and re-read the trilogy.
Be sure to check out my book reviews for The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay,
May the odds be ever in your favor.