Directed by: Gary Ross
Release date: 2012
Length: 142 minutes
When I heard last year that Lionsgate would be making a movie of one of my favorite books, I was skeptical. I had thought about a movie adaption of The Hunger Games before but I waved it aside, thinking it would never happen because of the way the book is structured. The Hunger Games is narrated entirely by the main character, Katniss, and readers don’t see anything that Katniss doesn’t see. Movies can’t limit viewers’ experiences like that, but Lionsgate was able to stay true to the spirit of the book anyway.
I followed the casting and while I was very surprised at the choice of Josh Hucherson as Peeta (whom I had imagined as a tall person) I didn’t have issue with him or anyone else. I was a little unsure about Liam Hemsworth as Gale, whom I had only seen in The Last Song alongside Miley Cyrus – a movie I did not enjoy because of Cyrus’s inept acting. Other characters, such as Haymitch and Cinna, played by Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz, respectively, are perfectly cast.
Just a quick plot summary for anyone who has not read the book:
In the futuristic world of Panem —which was once North America — there are 12 districts, all ruled by the Capitol. Every year every district must send a boy and girl — chosen at random — to fight to the death in a televised competition called the hunger games, which is required viewing for everyone in Panem. Katniss finds herself in these games after volunteering to go in place of her younger sister, Prim.
I went to the first showing —at midnight — excited but not expecting anything as good as the book. I was prepared for a little disappointment. As I watched the movie, I was amazed at how quiet the theater was. I never heard one person eating popcorn, or drinking soda, or even shifting in the seats. The reason was clear: There never was a time when you could turn away from the screen.
I was disappointed by a few things, like the absences of the avoxes —people who as punishment for crimes must work as slaves in the Capitol — and of Mage, the daughter of the mayor of District 12, who gives Katniss her signature Mockingjay pin. But there was compensation in other ways, such as a closer look at the man in charge of running the games, Seneca Crane (portrayed by Wes Bentley).
The movie does a good job of touching on the main themes of the book — Peeta’s determination to remember who he is by not letting the games change him and Katniss’s resolve to do anything for Prim.
Overall, the movie exceeded my expectations. Jennifer Lawrence portrays Katniss perfectly. Her emotions range widely, from displaying pure happiness while hunting with Gale to shaking in fear and desperation as she volunteers to replace Prim. This movie was received well by my friends, and apparently by others, too, based on the $67.3 million it made on its opening day alone.
The Hunger Games is a movie well worth seeing, even if you didn’t read the book. Because of the few shortcuts in the storyline, I’d give it an eight out of 10.