The Hunger Games
Director: Gary Ross
Writer: Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, Billy Ray
Based on: Suzanne Collins’ novel
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland, Wes Bentley, Toby Jones, Lenny Kravitz, Amandla Stenberg
The USA don’t exist anymore. In its place are 12 districts and the Capitol that has the districts under its thumb. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) lives in district 12, where at 16 she’s basically taking care of her mother (Paula Malcomson) and sister Prim (Willow Shields). Which means that she breaks the laws daily to go hunting with her best friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth). But Katniss’ life changes radically when the kids for the Hunger Games of that year are reaped. In the Hunger Games every year 24 kids, 2 more or less randomly chosen from each districts, are pitted against each other in a battle to the death until only one remains standing. And in this year 12-year-old Prim is chosen. In desperation Katniss volunteers to take Prim’s place. And so Katniss travels to the Capitol together with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) the baker’s son – to certain death for at least one of them.
The Hunger Games is a tense and excellent movie that could have been better if it had dared to be as grizzly and outlandish as the book. Instead they played it safe. It’s still a really good film but I can’ thelp but feel ever so slightly woeful for missed opportunities.
With the buzz that the film has garnered – both as an adaptation and as a movie on its own – my expectations were pretty high, and mostly they were not disappointed at all. For one, the cast is absolutely excellent. Even though both Jennifer Lawrence (too white, the features not hard or sharp enough) and Josh Hutcherson (just not hot enough) don’t really look like I imagined Katniss and Peeta, both of them really capture their characters and were fantastic in their roles. And the rest of the cast not only capture the feel but also look like I imagined the people.
Plus, the script and direction are really good. Though the script took over a couple of the weaknesses of the book (like the love triangle they’re so desperately trying to pull off, even though one third of it is barely present throughout the entire time), Gary Ross keeps things tense and it all comes together very nicely.
I just wish that they had dared to take over the more outlandish concepts (especially when it comes to the looks of the capitol – where were all the freakishly colored people? The cat whiskers in people’s faces? – and the mutts were really disappointing) and to really show the gore – the Games are gruesome, it’s a gruesome concept and hiding all that ugliness by camera pans and shaky cam action makes the whole thing extremely weird. The camera work generally was the weakest link, not only when it came to the action scenes.
But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy myself, quite to the contrary: I was completely into the film.
Summarising: Though the book might still be slightly better, the film is very good.