It seems like a critically-acclaimed book can’t be released anymore without a movie following hot on its heels. Twilight (oh boy) is due for its next installment sometime in the future but Harry Potter just wrapped up, so fans of books may be wondering where to look for legitimate cinema. Well, The Hunger Games is a good answer to that question.
Just as a disclaimer, I haven’t read the books but I saw the movie with an avid fan of them, and from what I hear the differences between the two media are few and far between, and none detract from the plot. Right there you have a ringing endorsement for most fans of the books.
Since I’m not here to review the book, that’s where the discussion of that ends. The movie follows the dystopian story of the young Katniss Everdean, who finds herself involved in the Hunger Games. This brutal fight to the death between 24 members of the Districts of Panem is held every year in order to keep the Districts in line through fear, which has worked well for the last 73 years; Katniss will turn out to be a wrench in the gears, though.
Jennifer Lawrence was an excellent choice to play the part. Her understated, almost plain good looks complement her at times stoic character and seem to perfectly fit the District she represents (To clarify at Twilight’s expense: just because Katniss is at times stoic does not by any means say she’s bland and one-dimensional like Kristen Stewart). She is a superb actor, and is able to convey many emotions through very little, which is essential to this story.
Not only was the casting good, but so was the character development in the film. This is often hard to translate from a 300-page novel to a two hour movie, but it was done very well. The special effects are also a plus. The Capitol is especially impressive, although the Dr. Seuss-esque costumes of the aristocrats may be a little too over-the-top. Nothing visual ever removed me from the action, which speaks highly of the design.
I only had two gripes: the first is that of Prim’s actress (and character, possibly), who did nothing but annoyingly wail incoherently. If that wasn’t enough of a headache, my second gripe added to it immensely. The camera work early in the film was horrendous, with the camera often a foot from the character’s face and shaking, if not 100 yards from the character and shaking. It was an attempt to convey some kind of emotion I wasn’t feeling, and thankfully it stopped less than half way through the movie.
There’s a lot to suggest this movie. It manages to add feeling to a brutal concept and speaks to deeper things about human nature than killing and death. I was pleasantly surprised, and the only reason this didn’t get its fifth star is because of the few flaws I mentioned and minor pacing issues. In general, The Hunger Games is a pleasure to watch.