Today is a very special day – it’s double feature Starshine day! YAY! So why the double feature? Because I went to see the midnight showing of The Hunger Games and now I’m giving you my full review of it, right here and now! Let’s not waste more time on frivolousness, and get right to the meat of it!
I’m not going to talk about the plot. It’s called Wikipedia, and you all know how to use it. It’s a pretty faithful adaption of the book, with scenes added in to make allusions to later movies (which I really think should be made) and overall, there’s nothing much to complain about the additions, except for the lack of lamb stew (don’t ask) and how often they cut to Gale.
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen is really, really good. She’s a very serious, awkward character who sacrifices herself to spare her sister Prim from the games. Lawrence pulls all the stops; her dramatic scenes are beautiful and flawless, her anger is convincing, and her presence on screen is really great.
Peeta Mellark, played by Josh Hutcherson was pretty okay – he seemed a little forced on occasion and a little overly cheesy later. I feel like they could have developed his character more, but considering he’ll be just as important in later movies, I can live with it for now. Plus, this is ultimately Katniss’ story, not his, so it’s better he stayed to the sidelines a little.
Lawrence and Hutcherson have no on-screen chemistry. In part, it’s because they aren’t really in love, and have to play it up to the cameras, but I also feel like they just don’t really work as a couple. It really ruined the mood for me during the “dramatic parts” which just seemed too awkward to be plausible, which is the worst part of the film for me.
Little 12-year-old Rue, played by Amandla Stenberg, really broke my heart. She was just so precious and strong in her own way, and I hoped the movie would have dedicated more time to her than it previously did. Stenberg plays her perfectly, despite what little time she has on screen. Still, how her story ends is so powerful, everyone is the movie theater saw her and cried “RRUUUEEEEE”
Lenny Kravitz as designer Cinna and Woody Harrelson as Haymitch were both seem like weird choices, but well cast in their roles and hold up very well as their roles disappear into the background. Donald Sunderland as President Snow is a great choice for a villain, since he’s not so overtly evil it’s distracting, but you know from the look in his eye and tone of his voice he’d kick a baby if he got his hands on one. Otherwise, there’s little else in the cast worth mentioning, but they all hold strong together.
That said, the biggest pro of this movie is the cinematography. The movie has amazing shots which show rather than tell, and really had to the depth of the story, and adds to the visually stunning nature of the film. The world itself is beautiful – stark and severely oppressing, glittery and lovely, expansive and isolating, the designs are spot on, making clothes and gadgets modern and new, but still something someone in the 21st century would wear and use. The sound editing is very good too, which is weird cause I never notice that kind of stuff, so it’s extra special. If anything can be said of this movie, it’s that it was very lovingly put together.
Now it’s time for me to address a very important issue: how The Hunger Game is not an American-rip-off of Battle Royale. Yes, it terms of material content and execution, Battle Royale is infinitely more complex and better on a whole, but Suzanne Collins wasn’t trying to compete with it, or outgun it – she claims not to even have known of its existence until after she was done. They have a similar motif of the inherit cruelty of man and having kids kill each other, and it is linked to society but that’s about it. One is about a society rife with overpopulation and fear of the youth, and so they secretly set classes of teenagers against each other to suppress their rebellion and limit the population to the strongest. The other is a world controlled by a government who punishes its citizens every year by taking twenty-four of their children, from 12 to 18 years old, to brutally kill each other on live TV and use it as entertainment, even using entries into the running as incentives to get food or supplies.
Again, I’m not saying this to rag on Battle Royale because it’s awesome and an important piece of work, literary and film wise. But the theme of The Hunger Games is clear: the use of senseless child violence and murder as a tool of entertainment and manipulation is wrong. We all know this to be true, but it’s presented in a very effective way. People in the piece treat these kids like characters in a drama, rooting for some, sending them supplies, even celebrating this killing with parades and interviews. There is no connection for the high elite that these are people, some barely old enough to have hit puberty, which are smashing each other with bricks, setting each other on fire, etc. Even the government sets up obstacles and enemies to literally fuck the kids over, changing the rules of the game to fit their will. And I know this is coming from a person who plays FPS and horror-survival games, but even this would be a level inconceivable to me.
If you read the book, you’ll like it. If you haven’t read the book, you’ll also like it. If you have nothing better to do with your life this weekend, you won’t be wasting money if you go see this film. Truly, a good book adaptation with a strong cast and great cinematography.