The Hunger Games Movie Review

Marso 27, 2012

Foreword

“What’s the rating for this movie?”

I absentmindedly blurted out to the person seated beside me (thank God I knew her) as the slashing, stabbing and jiujitsu-ing started showing themselves on screen.

“PG 13.”

That was the reply.

Me to SELF: So, this is what is okay for 13-year-old’s to see nowadays?

Why didn’t we have this back then?

The Movie

DISTURBING. If I were to pick out a word that I personally think describes the film best, it would be this.

  • It has a DISTURBING plot.
  • It contains numerous DISTURBING scenes (about 60% of it, trust me, I’m a Math Teacher).
  • It is DISTURBING that its target audience are children and teens, aged 10 to 18.
  • It is DISTURBING that a lot of people, young and old alike, are into this film that when we reached the theaters, the 3 available screenings were all jam-packed (even the last full show).
  • And it is DISTURBING that besides all these DISTURBING things I enumerated, I absolutely enjoyed it.

And to quote myself (ehem) when a friend asked whether the film was worth watching, it is what one may refer to as “a DISTURBINGLY GOOD movie”.

The Story

The Hunger Games is the screen adaptation of the first book of the same title in Suzanne Collins‘ bestselling trilogy (the other two being Mockingjay, and Catching Fire).

The story’s setting is the  post-apocalyptic country of Panem, comprised of a wealthy Capitol and 12 impoverished Districts. As punishment (or as a “reminder of peace”) for a rebellion staged against the Capitol, a boy and a girl aged 12 to 18 are chosen from each district via lottery to compete in the annual Hunger Games, a sort-of-reality show of a Death Match format held in an outdoor arena controlled by the Capitol where the 24 tributes (as what the participants are called) battle each other, gladiator style, until a lone victor remains. It centers on District 12’s tributes Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), (who volunteers as female tribute for their district after her younger sister Prim was chosen on her first year of eligibility) and Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), a little of their families’ background stories (which are essential to understand their character) and how an unplanned partnership helps them change the course and rules of the game.

Cinematography and Characterization

After a “Star Wars-like” prologue(?), the film starts shakily as it introduces the characters. Yes, shakily, as if the movie was being filmed by someone with a bad case of arthritis. I really did not get Gary Ross’ intention of doing this. I am forced to believe, however, that it’s part of how he would like to depict District 12, destitute, poverty-stricken, disarrayed and a complete contrast of the wealthy, upscale Capitol.

Another very interesting observation to note is how different people’s clothing are in the districts and in the Capitol. Capitol citizens wear excessive, colorful, dresses and make up, as if to symbolize how money is never an issue for them. Inhabitants of the districts on the other hand wear the complete opposite – old, ragged, sometimes shabby clothes.

Fight scenes and “Killing” Scenes are remarkably executed. Although the movie’s appeal rely so much on the action, or like what I said at the beginning of this blog post – the “slashing, stabbing and jiujitsu-ing”, the director was able to tone it down a bit, without comprising visual impact.

Special effects, although not superbly created, are used sparingly all throughout the movie which gave it a more realistic, hence more serious feel.

The Actors

Part of the formula why I consider The Hunger Games a hit for me is its actors. The Hunger Games boasts of a well chosen lot who delivered solid performances as their respective characters. The following are definitely standouts for me:

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen – I initially doubted the choice for Lawrence to play the lead role. What’s up with casting a 21-year old bombshell to play an assertive 15 year old girl? These two identities seemed very hard to reconcile  at first but scene after scene, Lawrence just proves me wrong. She kicks ass as Katniss. She can be tough and fierce, yet still be gentle and likable. And she exudes grace, power and sex appeal. There is just something about her eyes that won me over. They seem to convey her deepest thoughts, her experiences, and her past. The choice for Lawrence to play Katniss added ease to the storytelling as her brilliance in acting made me understand why Katniss is tough and why she had to be. Indeed, half the movie would’ve been a bore had she not been in the scenes.

Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket – Effie Trinket has got to be one of my favorite characters in the movie. Well, she’s not really that significant to the story but it would sure be hard not to notice Banks’ charisma as Effie. Well, in the first place, who wouldn’t take a second look at a woman wearing pink wig, clown-like make up, and a bright purple dress? Banks seemed to have a good understanding of her character and delivered a performance that one will definitely remember.

Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman – Tucci is definitely the perfect choice for Flickerman. He was fun to watch, and the scenes where he had to interview the Tributes appeared to be footages taken from actual interviews. It all seemed very natural.

Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark  – If I had doubts about Lawrence playing Katniss, I was totally convinced that Hutcherson would be no good as Peeta. The first half of his appearances did not really do anything to disprove my initial impression of him, but as the story progressed, he gradually fitted to the character. As it turns out, Hutcherson was an excellent choice as well.

My list includes Lenny Kravitz as the stylist Cinna and Malcolm Mcdowell as President Snow who were able to make lasting impressions despite the little exposure they had in the film.

My Rating

Judging as someone who has only read the first 7 pages of the book, this film definitely won’t disappoint fans and soon-to-be-fans of the series. With fast-paced storytelling; 142- minutes of morbid fight scenes  (a plus for me) and pure riveting action; CGI’s, special effects and a romantic angle kept at a minimum; and an ensemble of perfectly cast actors playing the roles, The Hunger Games succeeds in selling its interesting story rather than capitalize solely on leading actors’ chemistry onscreen. A good enough initial offering.

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7 Tugon to “The Hunger Games Movie Review”

  1. CMrok93 Says:

    Take away the hullabaloo surrounding the film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ best-selling young adult book and what you have is an absorbing film with a dire premise that stands pretty much on its own. Lawrence is also the stand-out here as Katniss and makes her seem like a real person rather than just another book character brought to life on film. Good review.

  2. Tamara R. Says:

    My initial reactions (to my teen daughter sitting next to me) within the first few scenes…Gasp! “This is sick! They’re only children!” “How could anyone write such a horrific story?!” “I already hate this movie.” “I hate Effie Trinket – I’d put HER in the arena!” Later on…”They won’t kill each other…Katniss has too good of a heart…and he can’t kill her – she is the lead role!” “I knew it!” “That was such a GREAT plot! Suzanne is an excellent story teller – when is the next movie coming out? Never mind, I’m ordering the books!”
    Yes, it was disturbingly good!


    • Glad you liked the movie as well. I totally understand how you felt watching the initial parts of the film. After all, these are children we’re talking about, right?
      I’m also done with the trilogy and if you liked the movie adaptation, chances are you’d also be hooked on the books. The Hunger Games appears to be a scary depiction of where the present society is heading, tackling political and moral issues in the process. I actually find it hard to classify it as young adult fiction because I believe the plot and over-all theme should appeal more to adults.
      Thanks for dropping by, by the way!

      • Tamara R. Says:

        I just got the books a week ago & I’m almost through book one. Just as I expected, the author has done a great job. I’m so envious, as a writer that is. My daughter has already zoomed through all 3 books. Yes, I agree about the scary depiction of where our society is heading. My daughter actually picked up on that & we had a good discussion about it. But I also agree that the overall theme leans toward adults.

  3. DwightD. Says:

    Hanep ang pag-ba-backread ko. Hahahaha.
    Hintayin ko na lang po sa torrent ‘to, wala rin naman akong pampanood ng sine nung pinalabas ‘to. XD
    Maganda rin po ‘yung Japanese film naBattle Royale. Parehas sila ng plot pero gorier ang Battle Royale. Di niyo palalagpasin ang bawat eksena para malaman kung sino talaga ang makaka-survive sa huli. 🙂


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