The Hunger Games
Based on the bestselling novels, This epic movie exceeds expectations thanks to the directors wonderful vision and Jennifer Lawrence’s powerhouse acting
Reviewed By: Mitchell Burns

Directed By: Gary Ross               Starring: Jennifer Lawrence            Also Starring: Elizabeth Banks
                                                                     Josh Hutcherson                                       Stanley Tucci
                                                                     Liam Hemsworth                                      Donald Sutherland
                                                                     Woody Harrelson                                     Lenny Kravitz

Very rarely do I go into a movie with high expectations and leave happy, growing up as a movie lover in the 90’s this has been a huge issue for me. Everyone tells you to see a certain movie that came out before I was born, and by the time you see it my expectations are so high that I am sometimes let down. It’s even worse when you have read a book and then the movie comes out and the movie lets you down, that’s the worst kind of disappointment. 
I’ve read all three Books in the Hunger Games trilogy written by Suzanne Collins and  I had a hard time putting them down last summer. I didn’t find out until I finished Catching Fire (The 2nd novel) that the books would be adapted to the screen, and I was ecstatic.
*My description of the movie is virtually spoiler free, and includes nothing more than what you would find out from the Trailer*

In the future, an unknown apocalyptic event has devastated the world, but the survivors have started a new world called Panem. In Panem there is a wealthy capitol which is surrounded by twelve districts, Most districts are pretty poor, and each of them serve a different purpose to the world of Panem (Masonry, fishery’s, Technology, etc.). The story revolves around 16 year old Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) who lives in Panem’s 12th district (Coal Mining) and the story starts on the day of the reaping. The Reaping is the day a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 are randomly selected to fight in The Hunger Games. 

During Panem’s start, the citizens of the districts had tried to rise up against the capitol, the captiol rebelled, destroying District 13 and ending the uprising. Since the uprising, the capitol stages yearly Hunger Games where a boy and a girl from each district, 24 in total, are chosen, brought to the capitol and forced to fight in an arena to the death, these kids are called tributes. 
Katniss Everdeen’s (Jennifer Lawrence) sister is chosen on the day of the reaping and Katniss volunteers in her place, also chosen from district 12 is Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). The two tributes are whisked away from their poor lives in district 12 and brought to the Capitol to train for the Hunger Games. Helping Katniss is a previous District 12 winner Haymitch (Woody Harrelson), her fashion designer Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) and their escort Effie (Elizabeth Banks).

The Hunger Games movie is epic and Awe inspiring, its shots of the capitol and the Hunger Games arena are realistic and every scene is brought to life wonderfully. The director and co-writer, Gary Ross, did a great job bringing this world to life, he had some writing help from the author of the books Suzanne Collins, and I’m sure that doesn’t hurt.

Gary Ross and the writers did an amazing job, but the movie would not have worked as well without an actress that could embody the roll of Katniss Everdeen as well as Jennifer Lawrence did. The 21 year old Jennifer Lawrence is already an Oscar nominated actress for her role in the little known movie “Winters Bone”, a movie that prepared her for The Hunger Games. Her portrayal of Katniss was spot on and perfect, Lawrence is strong and beautiful and almost looks like the image I had in my head. Lawrence can also pack an emotional punch when needed that may leave you wishing you had brought the Kleenex.

The Hunger Games will draw you in if you let it, The director does a fabulous job of drawing you in and setting the emotional tone of every scene, Your heart will race one moment and be breaking the next, The movie is a complete thrill and you will be immersed into this bizarre world.

The movie deals with some heavy subject matter,  for instance death, poverty, love, war and more. It’s perfect for anyone about 12 and up, I think you get a feel of how violent the movie is going to be just from the description of the movie “24 tributes, ages varying from 12-18, enter an arena and are forced to kill one another until one boy or girl is left standing”.

I’ve already stated that Jennifer Lawrence was absolutely perfect for the role, but what about the rest of the cast? The adult cast was pretty great, Woody Harrelson is pretty much perfect as Haymitch, the drunk former Hunger games winner and now trainer of new tributes. Elizabeth Banks is unrecognizable under so many layers of makeup and that ugly wig, but she does a great job playing the annoying escort, her banter with Woody Harrelson is about the closest we get to humor in the movie. Lenny Kravitz is good, but his screen time is limited in the movie and I would have enjoyed seeing him more because his bond with Katniss is great in the books. Donald Sutherland plays the evil president of Panem, and his character wasn’t in the first book but it was easiest to add him in this movie. Sutherland doesn’t seem evil enough, but it he will due.

At first I wasn’t sure on Josh Hutcherson as Peeta, his boyish looks and his persona did not fit my image at first, but after seeing the movie I am a firm believer that Josh Hutcherson fits the role pretty decently. During the first book I never really enjoyed Peeta’s character until the end and I think that is the way I felt during the character in the movie also. It’s not Josh Hutcherson, it’s Peeta Mellark who is not 100% likable during the movie. (for me anyways).
The girl who plays the young tribute Rue (Amandla Stenberg) is perfectly cast, and Katniss’ younger sister Primrose (Willow Shields) was great also, and the other tributes fit the parts fine for the little screen time they have. It’s Gale (Liam Hemsworth)  I am not sold on yet, he is Katniss’ best friend from her district. Liam Hemsworth (Gale) looks the part, but I am not certain of his acting abilities, but maybe I am not giving him fighting chance. His part in the first book/movie is smaller, but it increases during the last two. His character is quiet, and tough, like a male version of Katniss, I expected someone more tough and stoic, not Liam Hemsworth. He will do though, he’s not a character I really care about anyways, the casting directors did a great job filling the roles that actually matter to me as a reader of the books.

I might bite my tongue for saying this, but now that non-readers have been introduced to The Hunger Games world, the second movie may translate even better to the screen. That usually doesn’t happen, but I just have a feeling that the second movie could be just as good or better even! I also don’t think the final book needs to be split into two movies, which is what they are planning on doing.

to sum it up, I loved The Hunger games, definitely my favorite movie of 2012 so far. The Hunger Games is exciting, dramatic, emotional, fun, thought provoking and wrapped up nicely with the amazing acting of Jennifer Lawrence. I am very, very pleased with the transition from book to screen. Four and a half stars out of five. 

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