Hunger Games, The

Release date: March 23, 2012
Director: Gary Ross
Novel by: Suzanne Collins
Screenplay by: Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, Billy Ray
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Wes Bentley, Paula Malcomson

“Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor.”

There is a reason why YAM Magazine voted for The Hunger Games as one of the 15 most anticipated films of 2012: the premise of a woman fighting for her life in a televised combat tournament with plenty of guaranteed deaths sounds very appealing. Plus, the trailer [1] made the film look exciting.

But how does The Hunger Games work?

The film deals with a tournament that forcibly selects 12 men and women, aged 12-18, from each of the 12 participating districts from Panem. Each contestant — or ‘tributes’, as the film calls them — battles to death until only one person is left. The winner receives honor, gifts, and enough food and supplies to never worry about anything ever again.

When District 12 selects 12-year-old Primrose Everdeen (Willow Shields) to participate in the tournament, her older sister Katniss (Lawrence) steps up and does something unexpected: she saves her sister’s life by volunteering to participate in the Hunger Games. Before the tournament begins, Katniss prepares herself to, not only survive against the other tributes — including District 12’s male tribute, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) — but also to “put on a good show” in order for sponsors to gain interest in her and send useful items to survive the tournament.

Directed by Gary Ross (Pleasantville, Seabiscuit), The Hunger Games spends the first half of its duration building up the tournament, while the second half deals with the inevitable. Katniss is helped by the friendly stylist Cinna (Kravitz) and mentored by Haymitch (Harrelson), a previous games survivor who preps her for success. Despite their screentime, both Kravitz and Harrelson were great in their roles — Harrelson switching from careless drunk to caring mentor was easily one of the film’s biggest highlights.

Jennifer Lawrence’s performance is pretty good and she makes it easy to sit through The Hunger Games while providing some insight regarding how Katniss really feels about the tournament’s concept, her family and Peeta. Despite Lawrence’s efforts, the film presents some big problems that are inevitable to notice.

First, the execution of the tournament wasn’t really that exciting despite all the deaths. Second, the love story between Katniss and Peeta didn’t spark much interest in me from an emotional standpoint. Third, and even worse, the shaky camera is annoying no matter if it serves to give The Hunger Games a realistic and horrifying feel.

Overall, The Hunger Games is a good film with a pretty good build-up to the tourmanent along with some really good moments during the second half. Maybe you will enjoy it a lot more than I did. However, the film’s story has been seen before in works such as The Running Man and Battle Royale. While it might be unfair to compare The Hunger Games to Battle Royale because the former is based on a novel for young adults, the latter did a much better job in illustrating a deadly tournament along with a gripping storyline than The Hunger Games did.

Rating: ★★★¼☆ 

Rodrigo

YAM Magazine contributor, has a B. Sc. degree in Science/Pharmacy and is a very lazy person.

21 Responses

  1. I liked the movie overall, and it made Katniss much more of a defined character- Collins’ prose made some think that Katniss was a blank slate “Mary Sue.” However, yeah, the movie could have been better. For instance, I think the movie tried to convey that Katniss was doing the romance aspect more for sponsorship than her current feelings at the time, but it didn’t come across to some people. My mom, who didn’t read the books, sort of guessed it, however.
    The Battle Royale source novel is also a novel for young adults, or at least suited for young adults. I haven’t seen the movie yet (I know, just didn’t feel like it) but I’ve read the book twice and I think to get a better feel for the vast number of characters, it has to be in a longer, probably TV miniseries format.

    • Rodrigo says:

      @Diandra Rodriguez, Glad to hear you liked the movie. I liked it too, but not as much as everyone else who claims this was amazing or even “film of the year”.

      I didn’t know BR was a YA novel. Still, I think the BR film is far superior than THG – and I haven’t read both novels yet.

  2. amy says:

    So, I guess I should wait for this on cable too. LOL

    Battle Royale is VERY good (plus, it’s got amazing acting~ Kou Shbasaki and Chiaki Kuriyama *_*), but I heard the sequels were REALLY bad, so I haven’t dared watching them hahaha. But yeah, BR is a young adult novel that I think was later turned into a manga (after the movie, I think).

    • Rodrigo says:

      @amy, I’d say wait for DVD or watch it on a Tuesday.

      Many people love this film a lot, regardless of reading the book or not. I know Juan and Mirella liked THG a lot, but they’re not voicing their opinions here. The few people that I know that didn’t like it that much were Craig from LivingInCinema and one of my online FB friends – and both read the books before watching it.

    • Rodrigo says:

      @amy, And yes, Kou and Chiaki were amazing in BR. I should be bitchslapped for not knowing that the BR film was based on a YA book of the same name. But I remember hearing about the manga and the lousy film sequel (haven’t seen it yet).

  3. Julyssa Diaz says:

    I liked the movie fine but it’s true, it could’ve been so much more suspenseful. But I guess that if the move had been a bit more gory, then the rating would be too high for the core audience.

    I have heard very good things about the books so I might read them.

    Jennifer really made this movie for me, I guess I shall be watching Winters Bone!

    • Rodrigo says:

      @Julyssa Diaz, Yeah, the film’s marketing seemed to be for everyone, mostly the Twilight fans since THG is a YA novel. Still, I wish the characters and other things were more polished here.

      Let me know if the books are worth the read. I might give it a shot one day, but not right now when I’m still on the fence with this film.

  4. amy says:

    The movie was close to shit. Not shit, coz it had good elements – the acting was above your average YA teen demographic adaptation, I guess. I liked the contrast between Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrelson xD and I didn’t mind Hutcherson and Lawrence together. BUT MY GOD, such contrive characterization. xD Every time the movie got to the *about to kill someone willingly*, it somehow managed to not make them kill on purpose… or even worse, killed by accident.

    I also thought the movie was about 30min too long xD and I found some flashback scenes quite annoying.

    • Rodrigo says:

      @amy, I expected you to not like it much, and you didn’t disappoint me. :)

      Anyways, I haven’t revisited THG yet, but my first view was neutral to it even though everyone who loved it when it premiered was overhyping the film like it was the best YA adaptation (let’s be real: most people have Twilight in mind for YA shit, and that’s unfair to most books and films). But I could lower my rating to 3/5 if my revisit doesn’t work out that well. I might watch the next two films, but this one doesn’t make me wanna read the books.

      I remember loving how everything was set up before the tournament happened. I didn’t like Hutcherson much here, I thought Lawrence fared better with Liam Hemsworth despite his little screentime. The final death was really anticlimatic IMO.

      I wonder why Mirella and Juan never commented on THG. I know both loved it and Juan gave it a 4/5 score.

      • amy says:

        @Rodrigo, I was interested in trying out the book, but I’m scared to begin and feel the quality fanfiction lexicon. I have a slight suspicion that it’s gonna be about what they feel and think, with the same exact style of the Twilight book xD

        I actually liked the tournament better. I thought the setup was way too slow and really REALLY long. Like… I would cut down those extra 30min from it. I also didn’t feel the setup, it was like “if this has been going on for this long… why are people so emotionally affected by it?” Like, Katniss is presented like a mother-effing talented kick-ass girl… like, everyone knew she could, but once she puts herself forward, everyone acts like she’s going to her death. Would they all be like “YEAH! Our best girl is going. *fist pump* we’re going to win this shit.”

        Also, after watching HG I think it’s unfair to compare it to Battle Royale. They really have very little in common in terms of themes, and the only thing they both do is have young people killing each other.

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