Monday, April 2, 2012

Movie Review: The Hunger Games (2012)

I saw The Hunger Games on Friday, March 23 (opening night here in the States) with a sense of excitement I had not felt since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. I had wanted to go to the midnight showing, but I had school the next day and it would not do to fall asleep during a lesson.

I had a fairly good idea I would not be disappointed (if anyone mentions the Eragon movie from 2006 I shall weep for humanity) and I was right! They stayed as close to the book as reasonably possible - one of the closest adaptations I've seen of anything - and did a great job with censorship. They only showed as much of the horrible violence as was necessary to get the point across without making a graphic, disgusting mess. And that, to me, makes things all the more disturbing.

The plot of the film (and the novel), in case anyone somehow has somehow not heard it already, revolves around Katniss Everdeen (played with perfect precision by Jennifer Lawrence), who lives in the nation of Panem, which rose from the ashes of North America after a devastating war in the distant future. There are twelve districts and the Capitol. District Thirteen was destroyed by the Capitol's forces long ago. Every year, the youths of each district are required to submit their names for a lottery drawing in order to determine who receives the "honor" of representing their districts in the dreaded Hunger Games. One submits one's name once when twelve, twice when thirteen, and so forth - and they add up. Therefore an eighteen-year-old will have entered twenty-one times, and one can volunteer one's name more times in exchange for more rations of food.

The twenty-four tributes - twelve boys and twelve girls - are trained in combat and survival before being sent into an arena to fight to the death until one competitor is left.

Katniss' younger sister Primrose (or "Prim") has just turned twelve and is terrified of entering the Games. Katniss comforts her by telling her how slim the odds are of being selected when one's name has been in the lottery but one time. And - what do you know? - they pick Prim. By the way, whoever played Effie Trinket - the lady who does the drawing - was portrayed in such a creepy, clueless, startlingly perfect way by Elizabeth Banks. Katniss volunteers to take her sister's place and is whisked off to the Capitol to begin training...and to prepare for her nearly inevitable slaughter.

As I said, they portrayed everything perfectly (save for the muttations, which were supposed to have the faces of dead tributes - but they were still chilling to watch, so I'll excuse that). Donald Sutherland plays the main villain (President Coriolanus Snow) and, well? What can I say? He's Donald Sutherland! Where can one go wrong? I love Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark) in general, and Woody Harrelson (Haymitch Abernathy) was awesome too.

I hear Catching Fire (the second installment) is already in pre-production, and I shall eagerly await it. This is quite possibly the most faithful adaptation of a novel I have ever seen. I think author Suzanne Collins' writing the first draft of the script had something to do with that.

Final grade: A

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