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The Hunger Games Movie - A Review

Updated on August 21, 2012

The one question many people have been asking themselves these past weeks is simple: Is the Hunger Games worth all the hype? Many people who have read the book, or at least read a synopsis, understands that the book is extremely dark and twisted, especially considering the intended audience… Children. But that is the basic premise of the book, children killing children for the entertainment of the government and a way to keep the people under control. So did the movie version live up to fans expectations? Did the PG13 rating hinder the story and limit what the director could show? The answer to the first question is a resounding yes and the answer to the second question is a big fat no.

Synopsis

Lets start with a quick synopsis of the story. The movie is set in post war America where there is nothing left but 12 districts, each specializing in a skill or trade. The heroine of the story, Katniss Everdeen, is from District 12 where they mine coal for all the districts. District 1 is the home of the Capital and the rest specialize in grains, fishing, textiles, etc. As a form a penance, and to remind the people what the price of rebellion is, the Capital holds the annual Hunger Games. One boy and one girl between the ages of 12 – 18 are chosen from each district to compete in a Coliseum style battle. The victor wins his or her district extra food for one year. Every year each teenager gets one ticket with their name which gets put into the pool for drawing. Families can also get extra food and supplies for more tickets which increases the chances of being drawn during the “reaping” or drawing. When Katniss’s little sister Primrose is selected, Kat is inspired to volunteer to spare her 12 year old sister from the horrors of the game. The story takes place from Katniss’s point of view and details her thoughts and struggles leading up to and during the games.

Review

Fans of the books will definitely be pleased by the movie. Through artful cinematography the viewer is able to appreciate the living conditions and oppression the people face every day. Although the shaky cam effect is slightly overused and nauseating in the beginning it isn’t enough to detract from the enjoyment of the movie. Jennifer Lawrence does a fantastic job portraying Katniss Everdeen and copes well with the emotional and physical turmoil she faces during the story. Josh Hutcherson did an admirable job playing Peeta, the sweet lovesick boy next door. Woody Harelson was absolutely perfect as Haymitch, the drunken mentor to Katniss and Peeta, the only person from District 12 to ever win the games. One of the great things about adapting a book to the big screen is the ability to take liberties and change things. It was refreshing to not have the story told completely from Kats point of view. There is an excellent scene between Seneca Crane and President Snow that is very telling about how the government thinks and their motives. Also, Stanley Tucci’s Ceasar Flickerman does a fantastic job in preparing the audience for the games as the host of the show. His performance really highlights how similar our own reality TV is like the Hunger Games and how easy it would be for our society to develop something so horrifying. The Hunger Games is not hurt at all by the PG13 rating. It is appropriately disturbing and will leave the audience cringing in their seats. Overall it is definitely worth viewing whether you have read the books or not.

The books are not really appropriate for children under 13 even though there are characters that are 12 years old. For all the young girls that want to see the movie because they think Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth are hot, please stay home. Liam Hemsworths Character, Gail, is not a very strong presence in the book and so it makes sense that he is not in the movie very long.

Bottom line, this is a fantastic story that is only enhanced by cinematic effect. Definitely something a mature audience should see before it leaves theatres.

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    • Michelle Taylor profile image
      Author

      Michelle Taylor 5 years ago from New Jersey

      Thank you Pennyofheaven. I agree it is completely distasteful to be entertained by those kinds of games and I think a big part of the book is demonstrating how easy it would be to fall into that way of thinking. Just thinking about the kinds of reality TV that is available today like fear factor or even Jackass. For reasons I will never understand people actually like watching others in peril or pain. It would be a tragedy but I wouldn't be surprised if such games were to exist again.

      Thanks again for stopping by and commenting :-)

    • pennyofheaven profile image

      pennyofheaven 5 years ago from New Zealand

      When I read a book often, the Movie version falls short. Probably for the reasons you state in your reply to MT. I thoroughly enjoyed your review. As an aside; Its an odd reaction for me when one might feel entertained by such games as they were in Roman times. Gladly nowadays none of those types of games exist..

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      That is a great idea! Thanks! :)

    • Michelle Taylor profile image
      Author

      Michelle Taylor 6 years ago from New Jersey

      I'm glad you liked the review and you absolutely should read it! It is very disturbing and I remember being so angry when I was finished with the first one. But a strong emotional response is a good thing right?!

      I totally agree with what you said in your profile about enjoying ripping apart movies! I like to watch new movies twice. The first time for pure enjoyment and the second time to analyze it :-) My sister and I actually spent a summer watching 10-12 movies in the theatre and then scoring them based on plot, cinematography, how well the cast worked together, etc. Maybe I will do that again this summer! Lot's of good movies coming out!

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 6 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Hey again :) I just reread your profile :) You started with the intent to write movie reviews? I did the same thing! hahahaha :)

      You should check out mine and see what you think!

      Anyways abck to your hub, a great thorough review; I have not seen it or read the books, but this might cause me to take a stab at it! My twin brother read and saw the movie, so I should follow suit and join the ranks! :)

      So thank you for your great review! :)

      Voted up, useful, awesome, and sharing on homepage!

    • Michelle Taylor profile image
      Author

      Michelle Taylor 6 years ago from New Jersey

      Thank you Jenny. I cried for a long time when I read Rues death scene. I was relieved the movie did her justice.

    • iloveyoujenny profile image

      iloveyoujenny 6 years ago from Illinois

      Great review! I've seen the movie and I have to agree that even though it was rated PG13 it was still appropriately disturbing. The book had me a little worried that it was going to be gory or really dark and morbid, but I think since the audience knew so little about the characters like Rue it was a little easier then reading the book. I cried when I read about Rue because she instantly became one of the characters I loved. Especially being so young and innocent. But anyways again this was a great review on the film!

    • Michelle Taylor profile image
      Author

      Michelle Taylor 6 years ago from New Jersey

      M.T Dremer - Thank you for reading and commenting. I understand your views and I suppose it is a matter of preference. I agree that having the books from Katniss's point of view was an intriguing tool, however I also understand that it wasn't realistic for a movie to be like that. There are many instances where Katniss's thoughts about a situation tells the reader important information about the world she lives in which wouldn't work in movie format. You used the example of how there were notes in the movie explaining things that she had already figured out on her own in the novel. In the movie we can't read her thoughts and so it is more for the audiences benefit than insulting the character that this was done. I agree that in most cases a movie will never be as epic as the book it was adapted from, however a director needs to consider the audience that didn't read the books as much as the loyal fans. I was pleased knowing that Suzanne Collins co-wrote the screenplay, so any changes or additions were done with her vision in mind. As for the character of Haymitch, I felt that Woody Harelson coped well with having to play a tortured drunk survivor who got saddled with two teenagers that he believed were going to die. Even in the book, once he realized that his tributes had a chance to live, he got it together and did everything he could to help them. In the end it is ultimately a matter of preference. I personally don't care for the book character of Katniss at all. I felt that Jennifer Lawrence gave her much needed emotion. In the books Katniss gives off a vibe of being cold and calculating especially in the second and third books. Thank you again for commenting and offering your opinion.

    • M. T. Dremer profile image

      M. T. Dremer 6 years ago from United States

      I'm on the fence about the movie. To me, the books were a powerhouse of emotion, fantastically written and instantly memorable. While I thought the movie was pretty faithful to the book, I do feel like they stumbled more often than I would have liked. For example, you mentioned how, in the movie, we get perspectives outside of Katniss's head. While it was nice to see Donald Sutherland as president snow, I felt that one of the strengths of the book was the isolation we felt. Katniss had no connection to the world outside the games and, thus, had to figure it all out on her own. It really highlighted how clever she was and I felt that was lacking in the movie, especially when her gifts were accompanied by a note explaining things she figured out on her own in the novel. Similarly, I didn't care for Woody Harrelson's Haymitch. In the book he was a fat man who was so drunk all the time that vomiting on his companions wasn't out of the ordinary. And, for those of us who have read the second book in the series, we know that Haymitch's victory in his hunger games was similarly won by cleverness. In the movie they portrayed him as more of a ninja James Bond. I literally cringed at the scene where he kicks Peeta away from his drink because I knew in that instant, this wasn't the Haymitch I wanted. I could go on, but ultimately I feel that the movie lacked a lot of the subtlety that made the books so engaging. It's not a bad movie by any means, but as with most adaptations, it can't live up to the source material.

    • Michelle Taylor profile image
      Author

      Michelle Taylor 6 years ago from New Jersey

      I agree that family going to see a movie without you is the ultimate betrayal. I promise when you do get a chance to see it you will not be disappointed! Thank you for reading and liking my review :-)

    • laurathegentleman profile image

      laurathegentleman 6 years ago from Chapel Hill, NC

      I still haven't seen the movie (my family went without me - ULTIMATE BETRAYAL) but I loooooved the books! I can't wait to see it, I've heard it lives up to the hype! Thanks for the great review!

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