Children killing children. This is the heart of the Hunger Games, the televised event that is punishment and reminder to the people of the fictional dictatorial country Panem, for their rebellion 74 years ago.
This is also the plot of Suzanne Collins’ international bestselling book which the film is based on. Both the film and the entire trilogy capture the message Collins is sending to millions of readers, and though the film makes a few understandable changes, it should leave both old fans and new fans satisfied.
Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is a 17-year-old-girl who volunteers to take the place of her 12-year-old sister, Prim, after Prim is selected as the female tribute from their home, District 12.
The tension and anxiety is felt even before the game begins. The reaping, where two tributes, one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 to18 are selected, is quiet and intense; you can feel every child hold their breath every time a name is pulled out of a bowl.
The film continues as Katniss and Peeta, the selected male tribute of District 12 and a boy who has loved Katniss from afar, are thrown into the wild world of not only the game but the Capitol itself.
Just from the look of the Capitol and its people you can tell that director Gary Ross made sure to create the Capitol as extravagant and alluring as readers may have imagined. Every costume appears to have been thought out carefully and the Capitol’s gadgets and futuristic aura is faithful to the image Collins wrote of.
The game itself is eye candy; the viewer gets to have a full experience as they see how the game makers make the games and how they virtually throw in fire, mutant creatures and other twists to keep the audience entertained and the tributes dead.
The cast of the Hunger Games was well put together. Lawrence is spectacular as Katniss, she embodies the stubborn but strong women whose fiery outfits and attitude got her the nickname “girl on fire.” James Hutcherson brilliantly portrays Peeta.He is as lovable and charming as the novel’s character. Liam Hemsworth captures the rebelliousness of Gale, Katniss’ longtime friend and another admirer of hers. And Lenny Kravitz surprisingly makes Cinna, Katniss’ stylist, a memorable character.
What makes this film great is that it does not exaggerate the romance or the love triangle of Katniss, Peeta and Gale; it stays true to the action and the wrong of this post-apocalyptic world.
It also does not glorify gore. There are children killing each other with weapons and sometimes their bare hands but the violence is surprisingly minimal in order to keep its PG-13 rating. This lack of visual bloodshed does not take away the disgust that the viewer feels though as they watch a world where murder is considered entertainment.
There were things cut out from the book but it is nothing that will have fans too upset. The only flaw that can be pointed out is the lack of screen time for the other tributes, particularly Rue, Katniss’ ally and a 12-year-old tribute from District 11. Their friendship is genuine on screen but is cut short and will have viewers begging for more.
The Hunger Games will not only be loved by fans of the trilogy but by those who may have never heard of the Hunger Games before it exploded into the media. The film does a fantastic job making every scene stand out with its colors and costumes and making the poor and wealth of this country seem real.
Unlike Panem, this film was not made to entertain but to be as epic and noble as the characters on screen. And with a great start in the box office, the odds were definitely in their favor.