Friday, March 30, 2012

Title:  The Hunger Games
Genre:  Dystopian/Science-fiction
MPAA Rating:  PG-13 for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images - all involving teens

My rating:  A+ 

Synopsis (from  In a dystopian future, the totalitarian nation of Panem is divided between 12 districts and the Capitol. Each year two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal retribution for a past rebellion, the televised games are broadcast throughout Panem. The 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors while the citizens of Panem are required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as District 12's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta, are pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives.

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Thrilling, intelligent, and exceptionally filmed, I was completely impressed with The Hunger Games.  Having fallen in love with the book series, I was a little worried about whether I was going to be disappointed or happy when leaving the theater, but this movie was incredible, beginning to end.

First, the casting was perfect.  Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks-- they all did an amazing job bringing their characters to life.  I still can't believe how many people thought Jennifer Lawrence shouldn't play Katniss because she was too curvy.  Who cares if she has hips if she can act?  I'd much rather have a curvy actress than some skinny girl who can barely change the tone of her voice, let alone act.  *cough* Kristen Stewart *cough*.  Hutcherson, as Peeta Mellark, also did a great job at portraying his character's openness and quiet strength.

The filmography was brilliantly done.  They decided to go with the shaky, handheld camera for many of the more intense and violent moments in the film, which added to the realism.  The filmmakers worked hard to achieve realism and believability during the film, and I think they were successful.  The sets and the costumes were neither too simple nor too ridiculous (except the Capitol citizens, but their clothing was supposed to be ridiculous).  I also loved the use of color throughout the film.  In District Twelve, everything is gray or tinged with gray, and the images are sharp and stark.  But as soon as Peeta & Katniss board the Capitol train, the color' s become vivid but overwhelmingly so, like it's oppressive.  When they finally enter the arena for the Games, the colors are lush, but everything seems to sharpen again.

The violence that was to be expected in a story about kids killing each other in a gladiator-like event is there but a little subdued.  The books were written for a younger audience after all, and they didn't want to alienate a large part of their audience.  It still doesn't mean that it wasn't intense, especially when you remember that you're not watching two adults fighting, but two kids.  It was especially hard to watch whenever it was a 12-year-old, because they're so little and young.

There were changes between the book and the movie of course, which I will discuss further in an upcoming Book Vs. Movie entry.  What I will say is that the changes weren't huge or plot-changing.  There was only one that really irked me, but I think it's because they're going to address it in the second movie.  So I'm definitely not disappointed with this adaptation.

Even if I'd never read the books, I would have enjoyed this movie.  It had all the right components for a great movie-- action, adventure, romance, interesting plots and subplots.  And because I didn't see it on opening weekend, I got to watch it without a lot of screaming tween fan-girls.  Major bonus.  A+

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