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The Hunger Games

March 25, 2012

Peeta Mellark: You know, you’re kind of squeamish for such a lethal person.

Believe the hype, folks: The Hunger Games is brisk, brutal, emotionally grounded, yet flawed. What elevates the film is our pitch-perfect lead: Jennifer Lawrence, delivering yet another solid role as our afflicted protagonist. Lawrence’s character Katniss goes scene to scene with an unparalleled amount of confidence and fear, while fully realizing the stakes that she has put herself in. Another redeeming factor is the superb direction from Gary Ross, who clearly wants the audience to experience the same pain and sorrow that each of the 24 tributes are going through. Additionally, Ross’ visual style is engaging and dissimilar from other futuristic-type films. While I did find a few hiccups here and there, I enjoyed The Hunger Games as a whole. The film will not please everyone, so may the odds be ever in your favor.

In a futuristic universe, there lies an evil nation which forces its 12 districts to send a young boy and girl to compete in a nasty competition known as The Hunger Games. These contestants sent to participate in this game are called “tributes” because of the fact that they are apparently serving their fallen comrades by risking their lives. When young Katniss’ sister is chosen, she immediately volunteers as tribute. The second contestant chosen from District 12 is Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), an able-minded but inexperienced fighter. Along with these two, 22 other contestants are pitted against one another in a fight to the death. 

The Hunger Games is in no way, shape, or form another Twilight-esque film. For one thing, The Hunger Games is an adaption of a widely celebrated book that I have yet to read, but have been hearing nothing but positive praise from audiences and critics alike. Again, I have yet to read the book (but you can find me checking it out at the local book store), but if it’s any indication of how good the film turned out – sign me up for the newsletter! The Hunger Games is incredibly serious, doesn’t ditch the source material, and treats the audience with the utmost respect.

Listen, it is not easy to find an actress who can go from film to film (or genre to genre, in this case) with a perfect amount of dexterity and flawlessness throughout. Jennifer Lawrence stunned audiences with her breakthrough performance in 2010’s Winter’s Bone. Soon after, she starred in two other indie hits – Like Crazy and The Beaver. Furthermore, Lawrence secured her deal in the science-fiction realm when she played Mystique in X-Men: First Class. Now, Lawrence is starring in the film which has the third highest grossing opening-weekend of all time ($155 million). Obviously, it wasn’t Lawrence who gained the huge audience attention, but she sure as hell helped the experience. Other notable supporters include Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci, and an unrecognizable Elizabeth Banks. 

Director Gary Ross has a very unique visual style. I was a bit skeptical about this, as I was worried he would choose style over substance. Luckily, those two go hand in hand. The Hunger Games is just as remarkable as it is beautiful. The futuristic world looks similar to Speed Racer and the costume design was superb. Trust me, you will not be able to recognize Elizabeth Banks. Another strength that Ross has behind the camera is his ability to shoot action sequences. Aside from the Crank series, I get tipped off watching a shaky camera during action sequences. However, The Hunger Games uses it as an advantage. 

James Newton Howard and T-Bone Burnett collaborate here for the film’s score. While I don’t usually discuss the score (unless it has anything to do with Cliff Martinez or Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross), it feels like a necessity here. The most groundbreaking use of music her was the nearly mute sound once the actual games start – where the kids run to get their weapons or escape. While there is a faint sound of music being heard here – the intensity of the scene goes with it so well that it becomes an increasingly gripping scene for the audience. 

My main complaints here is that the film was a little slow in the beginning, along with a few more dry parts throughout. However, The Hunger Games has enough gripping, unforgettable, and remarkable moments to warrant the already glowing fanbase. Enter, if you dare.

The Hunger Games: 3.5 out of 5

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 25, 2012 1:35 pm

    I actually felt the opposite. I preferred much of the pre-tournament portion because its sets up the world that the characters inhabited and people’s unusual thirst in watching something deplorable, kids killing kids. It made me feel uneasy, angry, and excited at the same time which is a compliment to film because that’s what, I think, the source material was aiming for.

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