Saturday, 24 March 2012

Film: The Hunger Games Review


Directed by: Gary Ross
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland, Liam Hemsworth

Based on the best selling Suzanne Collins novel of the same title The Hunger Games stars Jennifer Lawrence as sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen who takes the place of her little sister, Primrose, in the deadliest fight for survival.
Set in the not too distant future a post apocalyptic America (renamed Panem) has fallen under the strict control of President Snow ruler of the highly superficial, metropolitan city named The Capitol.
Every year The Capitol presents The Hunger Games; a horrific televised event where a boy and girl (called Tributes) from each of the twelve districts is chosen to enter 'the arena' to battle till the death; they're can be only one survivor. 
As a fan of the book I review this film from a potentially biased view, however I truly feel someone has simply jumped into my imagination and plucked out the perfect cast.
Having seen Jennifer Lawrence in Winters Bone and X-Men I was aware of her positive screen presence and in The Hunger Games she does not fall short. She is strong, beautiful and holds your attention with ease-she stays true to everything Katniss is.
As in many novels there is a love story and The Hunger Games is no different, cast in the role of Peeta was Josh Hutcherson and there is no doubt about it, Hutcherson is Peeta. He coveys the longing, passion and desperation of a man fighting for love without appearing soppy and weak- tricky with such a strong female lead. He is also offers some comic relief and kind words, he's hard not to like-much like the boy with bread from the wonderful novels.
Supporting the leads we were introduced into a mix of a -list stars and some unknowns; Elizabeth Banks was brilliant as Effie, Woody Harrelson memorable as Haymitch, Liam Hemsworth held his own as Gale, not to mention Alex Ludwig as the devilish Cato and Willow Shields causing tears to flow as little Primrose-the list goes on.
Not only is the acting superb the film is visually fabulous; from the natural shades of Katniss's home District 12 to the lurid brights and sickly pastels of The Capitol, director Gary Ross sparks the controversy of wealth and poverty as perfectly articulated in the book itself. 
Ross also uses the cinematography in an interesting manner, there is an almost documentary-style ambiance to the film, with rocky close ups in the districts and shaky chases during the actual Hunger Games you truly like you are watching the reality show. 
Unfortunately, the last twenty minutes or so are a little rushed. We are out of the arena and seeing the credits roll before we have time to fathom what just happened and how it all ended. 
Also, as always when turning a novel into a film a great deal must be cut out and regrettably this means some relationships aren't formed as intensely as they probably should be. With this in mind, towards the end I didn't find myself yearning for Katniss and Peeta to be together because we never truly saw them ripped apart in the heart-breaking way the book offers. Having said that when Katniss thinks she's lost Peeta the panic in her tone and fear on her face clutches at your heartstrings; once again showing Lawrence's solid acting talent.
As I have read all three books I know how the tale ends and I can understand why Ross focused on certain areas and felt it fair to dismiss others; they can be developed effectively in Catching Fire and Mockingjay- and I really hope they do.

With an undeniably talented cast, beautiful story and relevant themes this new franchise could potentially reach the starry heights of The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter

Watch (and read) if you like it:
Battle Royale by KĊshun Takami/Kinji Fukasaku
I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore/D.J Caruso



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