The Hunger Games movie was good, but, as with all books-turned-movies, it did not compare to Suzanne Collins’ original creation.
In Panem, two Tributes from each of twelve districts are chosen to compete in a fight-to-the-death televised event known as the Hunger Games. After her sister is selected as Tribute, Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her place in the Games. She, along with Peeta Mellark, venture to the Capitol where they prepare to die.
On a positive note, the movie stuck pretty closely to the storyline of the book. Many important details were kept intact, and all killings in the Games were shown. In order to maintain a PG-13 rating, some of the violence was portrayed creatively. For instance, when a Tribute was killed, the Tribute wielding the knife would be shown, but the knife entering the teen’s body would not be explicitly shown. One of my greatest reservations with this film was that the violence would be toned down for a young audience. I was pleased to find that the violence remained, if slightly obscured.
Jennifer Lawrence also played a convincing Katniss. I thoroughly enjoyed her in the movie, even though her full cheeks do not indicate a character who has missed a few meals. The story was set up appropriately and would be easy to follow for anyone, regardless of whether or not he or she read the book before seeing the movie. In fact, a very large portion of the movie is dedicated to events prior to Katniss and Peeta being thrust into the Arena to compete in the Games. Director Gary Ross did a good job of keeping up the pacing of these events as well.
As much as I wanted to love every aspect of this film, I did find fault with a few elements. One of the biggest problems I had with the beginning of the movie was the filming style. While Katniss is still in District 12, the camera is shaky. Once the characters move into the Capitol, the shots become crisp. The District 12 filming reminded me of “found footage” films, which I despise. Also, it seemed as if Ross was trying to emphasize the differences between District 12 and the Capitol, but this was unnecessary. The two locations are so clearly different that creating confusion with the filming in District 12 was more irritating than it was beneficial to the story.
My biggest disappointment with the film, though, was the lack of one-liners from the book. The Hunger Games movie is so long that I expected it to contain several great quotes. The book is chock-full of fantastic quotes that were extremely enjoyable, so it was disconcerting that these were eliminated from the movie.
Additionally, the characters could have been developed more fully. They are well-developed in the book, but I felt that this was lacking in the movie. I was also somewhat disappointed in Josh Hutcherson’s portrayal of Peeta. He does not pull off blonde hair, and this was a distraction. Although Hutcherson is a good actor, his acting style somewhat clashed with that of Jennifer Lawrence on a few occasions.
The Hunger Games was good, not great. I would recommend seeing it in theaters and I will more than likely purchase it when it becomes available on DVD. However, I would not give this film 5 stars.