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The Hunger Games - Film Review

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by Helenonthesofa (subscribe)
Freelance writer, mum of two who loves living in sunny Perth.
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As an avid reader of the Suzanne Collins Trilogy of The Hunger Games, I absolutely couldn't wait to see the first novel of series brought to the big screen, and for me it didn't disappoint.


The Hunger Games is set in the futuristic post war world of Panem ,where residents dwell in different 'districts' all held under the power of The Capitol - the city of luxury, high technology and the rich and powerful. As a legacy to the days of uprising against the Capitol, an annual televised event called The Hunger Games takes place, where two pledges are taken from each district to fight to the death; only one victor can reign supreme. The pledges are drawn from a pool of all those children under the age of 18 and over the age of 12.

The story concentrates on Katniss Everdeen (played by an impressive Jennifer Lawrence), the young female pledge from District 12. Katniss is a fatherless tomboy who has long held her small family together through her illegal hunting and gathering assisted by her friend, Gale (played by Liam Hemsworth).

Katniss becomes the female pledge for District 12 after volunteering to take her young sister's place who had previously been picked out of the draw. The male pledge from District 12 is Peeta, played by Josh Hutcherson, the young son of a baker, who's path had already crossed with Katniss when he saved her from near starvation with his kind donation of some burnt bread.
Photo credit: Murray Close
Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

The two district 12 pledges are taken to the Capitol to prepare for the Hunger Games, learn how to fight, how to survive and how to play the game.

The mentors for Katniss and Peeta come in the form of a previous District 12 victor Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), who spends his days proffering advice through the haze of alcohol, as well as Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks), the Capitol affected persona whose hair changes colour with each new scene! The other support to Katnniss is her stylist, Cinna played by the wonderful Lenny Kravitz, who provides her with friendship, kindness and a wardrobe that sets her apart from all of the other Hunger Games participants.

Despite coming from perhaps the poorest of the Districts, Peeta and Katniss show the Capitol that they have some tricks up their sleeves, and that whilst not trained for the Games like some pledges, certainly have enough savvy to appear as worthy components.

Much of the film then concentrates on the games themselves, so prepare yourself for some pretty brutal slayings, as well as a story of friendship and love. We learn early on in the film that Peeta has long had a crush on Katniss, but where Katniss's heart lies remains a topic of ambiguity throughout the film - will she give her love to Peeta, or to her childhood friend Gale.

Photo credit: Murray Close
Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

After loving the books so much, I was worried that the film wouldn't capture enough of the undertones of the book, and to this extent, I would argue that a lot is left to your imagination and to your own determination based on the constraints of trying to fit too much into the 142 minutes of film viewing pleasure. That said, the film did a great job of visualising the Capitol for me and the parallel poverty of the Districts, as well as getting the imagery of the actual Hunger Games spot on.

The cast for me is where some standout choices have been made. Woody Harrelson as Haymitch is a perfect choice in my mind - embodying the character straight off the page of the book. Elizabeth Banks was a surprising choice for the role of Effie Trinket, however, the costume and make up team have done such an amazing job that their canvas allows her Bank's flawless acting to shine through.

Photo credit: Murray Close
Photo courtesy of Lionsgate

The casting of the younger characters, was also impressive. I am sure Liam Hemsworth will come into his own in the movies to follow; with this first instalment hinting at his potential to play a brooding Gale who will have some power over Katniss in time to come. Jennifer Lawrence played a great Katniss; demonstrating the emotion going on in her characters mind that so often wasn't credited to scripting. Hurrah for Josh Hutcherson finally breaking out of his Disneyesque mould! I was so pleased to see this casting of Peeta; it would have been such a shame to see this role go to the number of Hollywood pretty boys who auditioned. I'm not saying that Josh is terrible to look at (quite the opposite) but there are hidden depths there, and his solicitation of Katniss's affections were so subtly played out - perhaps a little different to the book, but equally as compelling.

I've seen some criticism in respect of the gory nature of the film and questions as to whether so much violence was necessary. The film was rated an M (mature themes and violence) which allowed for adequate blood shed, but in all honesty based on where the book and film could have gone, it's quite tame. There was only one moment in the film where my heart leapt out of my seat, so in all, don't let this put you off.

It will be interesting to see how the film adaptation's take the direction of the book. I loved the second book but the ending of the third book still has me reeling. Such a build up throughout books one and two and then an ending that in my mind felt abrupt and inconclusive. I'm hoping that the film delivers a little more on this.

I would recommend to sci fi fans and to those who loved the books. It's a great teen/young adult movie that does deal with some real themes of love, friendship, war and politics. It's not just a romance film - so if this is what you are looking for, I wouldn't recommend and it's not a Twilight remake, and whilst there are some great undertones of love and emotion, this isn't the essence of this film

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Your Comment
I looooverrd Hunger Games! Seeing it at the movies was amazing! Would recommend it to anyone.
by misslulu (score: 1|88) 3164 days ago
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