257th Movie Review: The Hunger Games

An electrifying adaptation recommended for everyone, but readers of the book will love it even more

I’M BACK!!!!!!

(note: you might have noticed I skipped 5 reviews. Don’t worry, I’ll post it soon, but first I need to get this out)

Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the evil Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games. A twisted punishment for a past uprising and an ongoing government intimidation tactic, The Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which “Tributes” must fight with one another until one survivor remains. Pitted against highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives, Katniss is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch Abernathy. If she’s ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love. — (C) Lionsgate

I guess we’ve finally found an adaptation post-Potter that’s worthy of its hype and earnings! Before I proceed, let me just tell you that I haven’t read Suzanne Collins’ books yet, nor have I read any other book in the past before I watched its big-screen counterpart. It’s my way of preserving my happiness for a film because I love it when a movie catches me off-guard. Fortunately, The Hunger Games did just that.

What’s weird though is that for the first time I actually felt that it would’ve been better to read the book first before seeing it in theaters. The backstory of The Hunger Games is so rich that non-readers (like me) might not be able to absorb or appreciate all of it in 142 minutes. You may think that it’s long, but trust me, IT’S A FAST-PACED STORY. Good thing director Gary Ross managed to find ways throughout the film to know more about what’s going on. The way he introduced significant facts and tidbits about the setting was simple yet effective, and only piqued my curiosity even more.

All actors were undeniably good in their roles. I don’t know if they portrayed their characters spot-on based on the book, but most if not all were able to convince (and move) me with their acting. Jennifer Lawrence’s fits the role of the smart and alluring Katniss seamlessly. I could say the same for Josh Hutcherson (for Peeta), as well as the supporting cast (Woody Harrelson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz and the rest). I found Lawrence and Hutcherson’s romance believable, evoking empathy during my screening when they tended their wounds or shared a kiss.

Still, finding the right actors is useless if the script is second-rate. Fortunately the movie is backed by Collins and Ross, whose ideas seem to complement with each other with every scene gelling together. Ross was able to heighten the intensity in some action scenes by using different camera angles and switching from third to first-person view from time to time; but sometimes I found his use of it excessive and it retracted me from the scenes for a bit (though I liked what he did with the camera in parts where the killings happen). There were also a few unexplained things (which I can’t remember from the back of my head), but I’m guessing that they’ll explain it in next films or I can find it in the books so I won’t go there any further.

The one major thing I disliked about the film though, was its underwhelming special effects. Compared to other blockbusters in its tier, this one’s probably at the bottom half, but I commend them for their effort to prioritize the story more rather than the visuals. And it only goes to show that you can still execute a solid film with a small budget. They still have a couple (or three?) of movies to go, and with all the cash they’re raking right now, they have plenty of room to improve. I just hope Lionsgate will be able to propel the franchise forward instead of back.

Overall, The Hunger Games is exciting and superbly acted. It jolts you with its fast-paced action and unique story. Honestly, this movie could’ve gone wrong in so many ways, but I’m very impressed that they managed to execute this very ambitious project almost perfectly. I could’ve enjoyed it more though if I read the novels first; but as far as its readers are concerned, it’s pure fan service.


I Agreed With the MAJORITY

Rotten Tomatoes: 85% FRESH, 7.3/10 Rating

Internet Movie Database: 7.9/10 User Rating

Metacritic: 67/100