I have finally kept my promise, got around to reading the book so here’s the much awaited (hopefully?) review.
Based on the novel of the same name by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games story is set in a dystopian future in the nation of Panem, which consists of the Capitol and the 12 surrounding districts. As a punishment for the past rebellion against the government and a way of keeping people in line, every year the Capitol chooses one boy and one girl from each district to be a part of the Hunger Games: a televised event in which the boys and girls have to fight to death and there can only be one winner or victor.
The heroine, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen offers herself as tribute when her sister is picked to be part of the Games. If you read the book then you understand why Katniss does this, because she loves her sister more than anything else or in her own words “the only person in the world I’m certain I love”.
The choice to play Katniss was Jennifer Lawrence, starring now in her second film adaptation after Winter’s Bone. If you haven’t read the book yet maybe you won’t be so quick and willing to praise her talents and performance, but if you have then you’ll understand why I am. She exudes the exact confidence, harshness and power Katniss has on paper. She also plays it perfectly during the reaping scene, showing utter desperation as her sister’s name is called out, confusion as her sudden decision sinks in and ultimately fear of knowing what’s next.
A fairly new face to the scene, Jennifer Lawrence has already risen up to star status after just two movies, i.e. Winter’s Bone, for which she was nominated for an Oscar and The Hunger Games. I think she’s very talented and after seeing the movie and reading the book, I couldn’t imagine another actress playing the role of Katniss. She truly is the most memorable part of the film.
Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, the other tribute from district 12 and one of Katniss’s love interests, gives us a credible impression of a boy in love and someone who can pull off staying alive for so long in the arena. Her other love interest, Gale Hawthorne played by Liam Hemsworth, gets little screen time, more so than we see him in the book even.
One of the other performances that I really liked was that of Stanley Tucci. He plays the flamboyant Caesar Flickerman, the Capitol’s favorite television host. He’s charismatic, he’s funny, he’s just what I imagined while reading the book.
Lenny Kravitz plays Cinna, Kat’s stylist and the only genuine, kind and sweet person in the Capitol. I really liked his character in the book and I think Kravitz did justice with his role. Same thing applies for Amanda Stenberg, who plays Rue and she’s just adorable and endearing.
Also, and this came as a surprise, I loved Woody Harrelson’s Haymitch, but I disliked him on paper. Maybe because the movie doesn’t show all of his drunken moments and makes the transformation, from irresponsible alcoholic to someone who cares about the people he’s mentoring, faster. Maybe I just like Woody Harrelson..
All in all, everyone does a great job, even though some of the characters don’t appear at all in the book or they’re simply mentioned in passing; such as Wes Bentley’s Seneca Crane, I do believe he’s not even mentioned in the first book and Donald Sutherland’s President Snow. He is mentioned in passing, towards the end of the book, yet seen in several scenes throughout the movie.
The director did a great job executing this movie and transposing this story from paper to film in a coherent way. I’ve seen several reviews and heard some people say you need to read the book before watching the movie if you want anything to make sense. That’s not the case whatsoever, the movie gives plenty explanations where needed and doesn’t leave anything important out. You should still definitely read the book/s because they’re great and will only enhance your viewing of the film.
Another thing I’ve heard people complain about was the style of filming and again, I completely disagree, but it’s a matter of personal taste after all. They used the hand-held, shaky style of filming, which makes the scenes in the arena that much more dynamic and works quite well, I think.
Overall this was a great movie and they already announced the sequel, Catching Fire, to hit the big screens in 2013. But, and this is a HUGE but, we need to give credit where credit’s due and admit that this wouldn’t have been made if not for the books. Go read them, I guarantee you’ll love them.