Any time a wildly popular book series is turned into a film, a huge risk is taken. Care must be taken to keep the books’ basic truth intact, while still reshaping and adapting the story to the film medium.
Stray too far from the book, and the readers will scorn you. Stay too close, and the non-readers will be bored out of their minds from all the over explanation, meaningful glances and internal dialogue.
It’s a fine line, and “The Hunger Games,” walks it beautifully.
Yes, there are still plenty of fans ready to condemn the film for not being as good as the book (spoiler alert: the movie is never as good as the book).
However, the fact remains (as a fan of the books), director Gary Ross and this talented young cast (and the not quite as young Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz and Stanley Tucci) have managed to keep the integrity of Suzanne Collins’ original novel, while opening our eyes to a whole new world we may not have noticed upon first reading (or the second, third and …).
Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), is far from your typical 16-year-old girl. A citizen of District 12, she defies the local Peacekeepers every day to hunt and provide food for her young sister, Prim (Willow Shields), and her mother (Paula Malcomson).
When she becomes a pawn in the Capital City’s annual Hunger Games, well, let’s just say the Capital has no idea who they’re messing with.
The Hunger Games, serve as a reminder of the Capital City’s power, and the futility of rebellion.
Forced to battle to the death with 23 other tributes (one boy and one girl from each district), Katniss’ hunting skills and survival instincts help to keep her and fellow District 12 tribute/ star-crossed lover, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), in the game.
A twisted and addictive commentary on the true victims of war–children–perhaps the most disturbing thing about “The Hunger Games,” is that it takes place in the real world. Or a future version of our world, let’s just say the similarities are a little too close for comfort.
Shaky hand cams are used to capture the violence and chaotic nature of the games. While other moments don’t cut away from the horror created by these games (this film is not for young children). Combined with complete and utter silence during the first 10 minutes or so of the film, as the names are drawn during the Reaping. It’s enough to dampen even the dryest eye in the theater.
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen proves once again why she stands out among her generation of young actresses. Even if she does get type-cast as a squirrel killer. She captivates, dominates and motivates as the stoic, but still young and scared, heroine.
Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark is charming. The young actor has quite a resume despite his age, and holds his own opposite Jennifer Lawrence as well as the many other Hollywood heavyweights in this talented cast.
Advertised as a Hollywood blockbuster, this film surprises, delights and pulls at more than a few heartstrings, all while staying true to the book.
If you need a “Hunger Games” tutorial check out Stephanie’s overview from last Friday: …let the games begin
…just for fun: