Review: THE HUNGER GAMES

By Laurie Coker          B+

             I have not read any of The Hunger Games books, nor have I read any from the Twilight series and I managed to get in only two of the Harry Potter novels, mainly because I had no interest in the first two and no time to keep up with the third once the movies began coming out. I went into The Hunger Games with zero knowledge and no expectations. I had not even seen a trailer, thanks to the old DVR. I did, however, take someone who is well-versed in Suzanne Collins’ trilogy. She and I, surprisingly, agree, director Gary Ross’ adaptation (co-written with the author and Billy Ray), stands decently alone from the book (in good ways), so that audiences do not have to have read the book to enjoy the film. 

            My film companion tells me that the screenplay runs respectfully close to its source material, at least in the wider view of things. Lovely and notably talented Jennifer Lawrence stars in the movie as Katniss, a citizen of the 12 District -one of twelve communities ruled over by a tyrannical government who has two young people (called Tributes) from each district put forth to compete in a televised sporting match of sorts, in which the adolescents (ages 12-18) fight to the death until only one victor prevails. Katniss’ younger sister Primrose (Willow Shields) is chosen, but Katniss volunteers to take her place. Peeta Mellark (a well-cast Josh Hutcherson), who has a secret crush on Katniss, is the second Tribute from District 12 and in a series of events, he and Katniss force game promoters to alter the course of the match as it progresses, bringing Peeta and Katniss – who sort of has a beau (some say best friend), at home, in Gale Hawthorn (Liam Hemsworth) – closer together.

             The film offers some wonderful acting talent, from Woody Harrelson (as the boozing District 12 mentor) to an unrecognizable Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket the District 12 chaperone (an adorably annoying character) and local announcer.  As usual, the ever impressive Stanley Tucci does a delightful job as a the flamboyant television host, Caesar Flinkerman and veteran Donald Sutherland please as the sinister leader of the governmental body that ultimately controls the game.

             The film’s scenery, costuming and cinematography work wonderfully to transport the viewers into a world somewhat like our own (past and present), but also one that is decidedly different. I found it curiously interesting and intriguing and that is a good thing! Except for some slow sequences, (perhaps enhanced because of a two hour and twenty-two minute runtime), I stayed wholly engaged and did truly want to see Katniss and Peeta succeed – a given, if I ever saw one, even for a non-reader of the books. The action is tight, intense and engaging and the characters fascinating –Lawrence (and as noted Tucci) is particularly entertaining to watch.

             I went in to the PG-13 rated The Hunger Game with an open-mind and honestly, fairly low expectations and left feeling satisfied. It stands alone and even though I know at least one more film (probably two) is in the works, I don’t feel like I have been left hanging and I like that. I will see subsequent films and am actually looking forward to them. I think it could have been cut down about twenty or minutes, but that’s just me. I am placing a B+ in my grade book. I think it’s a HIT!

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