Review: 'The Hunger Games'

Allow me to just get this out of the way so that people don't destroy me after they read this... I have not read the books so I do not have that luxury of comparing the books to the movies.  So, please get those comments out of your head right now.  "But Shaine, that wasn't how it was in the book" or, "The books are WAY better than the movie!"  If that is the case, then cool.  But again, I don't know.  So there.  ( I will read the books eventually but as I am writing this review, I haven't read them.)

After a week of the film being released (cause the opening weekend I tried to see it, it was all sold out)  I finally got to see The Hunger Games

Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone) plays Katniss, a 16 year old girl from District 12, which out of all the 12 districts, is the poorest.  Jennifer Lawrence gives a strong performance and I couldn't see anyone else in that role. 

One boy and one girl from each district are randomly chosen in a so-called lottery to act as "tributes" for 74th annual Hunger Games, a live television event in which the "tributes" fight to the death until only one remains.  Katniss sister Prim is chosen by Effie, the colorful spokesperson for the games, but Katniss decides to volunteer instead.  It's an effective scene and no music is present during this letting the performances shine through.  A good choice by director Gary Ross.  The boy "tribute" is Peeta, played by Josh Hutcherson, who has a history with Katniss. 

After they are selected, they are drenched with riches of food and comfort. When they go to the Capitol, which is where the Hunger Games are held, my first thought was, "Hey, it's the lost city of Atlantis! So that's where it's been hiding!"  Once there, they meet booze-loving Haymitch, played by Woody Harrelson in an Oscar-worthy performance, who becomes their mentor.

Before the games start, Katniss gets encouragement from Cinna played by Lenny Kravitz who tells her that she will win and then up, up, up, she goes into the "arena".  She is surrounded by the other tributes and then... GO!  Right off the bat, at least half of the tributes die horribly and to keep with the PG-13 element, doesn't go into too much gory detail but just enough to make you go, "Damn!"  The whole thing is being broadcasted live, by host Ceasar Flickerman, played by Stanley Tucci. 

Of course, alliances are formed and more tributes die.  The saddest death is little girl Rue.  She helps out Katniss when she gets hurt and they form an alliance but it's very short lived.  I'll be quite honest, I wanted to cry but I held my tears. 

The film's costume design and art direction is very colorful.  To some, it may be TOO colorful.   I didn't have a problem with it. 

The biggest problem with this film is the cinematography during the action scenes.  There is A LOT of quick edits and shaky camera movements to make your head explode.  Sometimes, the camera would be positioned WAY TOO CLOSE TO THE ACTION to where you can't see ANYTHING.  I was like, "Really?  Do we really need a close-up of someone's back?" 

The people who are in control of the games, can make whatever they want.  In one scene, to make Katniss move out of a tree she is in, they decide to have fire destroy the area she is in, forcing her to move.  Another scene, they make some "dogs" who kill tribute Cato.  I wished they could've done more with that whole idea. 

Another slight problem is the relationship between Katniss and Peeta.  It's nowhere near as developed as it could have been and I wasn't fully convinced.  The chemistry between the actors is great but not the best I've seen by any means.

All in all, if you have read the book, you will probably like this film.  If you haven't, you will like this film too.  These film adaptations are being billed as the "next Harry Potter" and/or the "next Twilight" but it definitely goes after a much bigger audience, hence the reason the film is making so much money right now in the box office.  It is engaging and powerful.  I just wished the action scenes were filmed better. 

Whenever you decide to go see the film,  remember to have your bow and arrow ready.  You'll need it.