Normally our Saturday At The Movies column is up much earlier in the day, but knowing I’d be seeing The Hunger Games today, I figured I’d wait and give my impressions on the film that is literally demolishing the entire box office this weekend (you can check out our predictions on it’s return here). The good news is, if you’re a fan of the book by Suzanne Collins, I can’t imagine you walking away from this adaptation with anything but complete satisfaction. And if you haven’t read The Hunger Games and are walking into the film without knowing what to expect, you are in for a serious treat. Because the movie is more than just a stellar adaptation. It’s a stellar film
A brief synopsis, for the uninitiated. The Hunger Games is the story of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), who lives in District 12 of the nation of Panem. Each year, a male and female from each of the twelve districts are chosen to fight to the death in The Hunger Games, all for the delight of those that live in The Capital. There’s more to the story than that, including a romance between Katniss and her District 12 male counterpart, Peta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), but I’m going to leave the rest for you to discover.
What I will tell you is that, as directed by Gary Ross, The Hunger Games is quite simply fantastic. The design of the dystopian civilization the story takes place in is absolutely gorgeous and flawless – specifically The Capital, with its ostentatious design and inhabitants. It really is how I pictured things in my head while reading the books. This is also a film that takes its time – you get to know the characters of Peta and Katniss before they’re sent out into the games, which makes their plight all the more harrowing for the viewer. Heck, I knew what was coming most of the time and I still was shocked when certain moments occurred.
Performance wise, there is not a dud in the bunch. Woody Harrelson is perfect as Haymitch, the only District 12 citizen to ever win The Hunger Games. Lenny Kravitz, is surprisingly natural and genuine as Cinna, the stylist for Peta and Katniss. But, of course, the film rests on the shoulders of Jennifer Lawrence, and she doesn’t let anybody down. She is the perfect Katniss – a bundle of emotions as she does her best to survive. It’s a star-making performance, as far as I’m concerned.
There’s been a lot of comparisons between The Hunger Games and the Twilight Saga; some of it makes sense. Female lead characters; romantic settings; teen novels that have become adult favourites. But that’s where the similarities stop. Whereas the Twilight novels are poorly written schlock (or so I’ve experienced from the 20 pages or so I tried reading) and the films are ridiculously unwatchable (though admittedly I find the first one has some kitsch value), The Hunger Games is a well-written novel featuring a strong female character, one that could take Bella Swan down with her fingernail. The strengths of the source material are translated wonderfully to the film adaptation.
One more thing to note – The Hunger Games is NOT a kid’s film. There were a lot of children 10 and under in the theatre the Queen and I were at and we were both shocked. There are some fairly brutal and scary moments throughout the movie – the story is one of kill or be killed, right? So I wouldn’t recommend taking your small one to check it out. Wait until they’re older. Which means parents, find a sitter, because you won’t want to miss The Hunger Games while it’s in theatres.