Hunger Games fans, the wait is over. Today marks the release of the first film in this book-to-movie franchise, and two of our reviewers were there to see it and report back. We cover all aspects, as Lauren has read the books and Kelly has not. The overall report? Loved it! Read the reviews below for more details.
There are some spoilers, so if you want to be surprised, wait until after you see the film to read these reviews!
Lauren’s review (Read the books):
This morning the internet news scrolled to a review of The Hunger Games, and the title basically lead me to believe that the movie was an emotionally watered-down version of the book. I still went to the theater with high hopes, as I loved the trailers, but this was in the back of my head, so I was looking out for it.
I’m happy to report that this reviewer had no idea what they were talking about. The movie was fantastic. I laughed, cried, jumped and screamed out loud, and was completely captivated from beginning to end. This is a must-see film for both fans of the books and people who love a movie that has it all.
For those who are unfamiliar with the story (sorry people, but have you been living under a rock?!), the protagonist Katniss Everdeen lives in a futuristic world where twelve impoverished districts are ruled by a rich, powerful city called the Capitol. 74 years ago the districts rebelled and lost. To remind them of this and keep their continued obedience, the Capitol started the Hunger Games, a killing game where a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 are chosen from each district and fight to the death on national television until only one remains. Katniss heads to the games, and we get to see first-hand the terror and atrocities these games offer to these teens and their families.
I pretty much loved every minute of this movie. All the elements of the story were there, and though the book was tense, seeing it, living it visually, brought a whole new level of intensity to the games. Jennifer Lawrence was an excellent Katniss, and Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) and Liam Hemsworth (Gale) were great. Hemsworth captured Gale’s attitude, his bond with Katniss, but Josh really shone as Peeta. He managed to capture Peeta’s quiet, kind nature, and when he talks about his feelings for Katniss, you believe it. I really feel like all three were cast perfectly as the main characters in this film.
Though there were a few minor changes to the story (Prim gave Katniss the pin, not her friend, and the Mutts at the end don’t turn back into the killed people, they are just scary-ass dogs), all the little details that mattered were there. Rue. The fire. Peeta and the cave … I could go on, but this review is already a bit on the spoilery side. Needless to say, there was nothing that disappointed me. The changes made were noted and accepted as needed for the film, and I moved on.
One of the things I wondered about was how the film makers were going to give us a lot of the information that’s in the books, as the story is written in first person narrative. It was handled really nicely, with them doing things like cut-aways to the game control room where we see just how much they manipulate the players, and the game master and President Snow chatting in his rose garden about Katniss being the under-dog and giving people hope. I’ll be curious to see what people who haven’t read the books think (like our own lovely Kelly who is sharing this review with me), see if they connected with the characters as deeply as I did and if they ‘got it,’ all the little things that were revealed throughout the film that we learn inside of Katniss’s psyche.
The review this morning said the movie skimmed across the plot and characters at a feverish pace, never allowing viewers to get emotionally involved. I disagree completely. Though there were some sections that were given more time in the books because of Katniss’s inner turmoil and dialogue (the chariot scene pops into my head), nothing felt shallow to me. Did I already feel like I knew these characters intimately from reading the books? Yes. Did that influence me? Perhaps. But, how many times do book-lovers head to the theater to see films of their favorite stories butchered on the big screen? There was no disappointment, only enjoyment of a story and happiness that the film did it justice. If you are a reader who loves the books and is terrified the movie will butcher the story, don’t worry. See it, you’ll love it. Seeing it just adds another layer to the experience, making it that much richer!
Kelly’s Review (Has not read the books):
While I haven’t been under a rock, I purposely chose not to read the book before I saw The Hunger Games. Normally I would, but I wanted to give you, our fantastic readers, both sides of the coin in this review.
I loved this movie. It contains intense drama, love, honor, selflessness, cruelty; everything that makes a movie great. The parent in me wants to make this clear: This movie contains graphic images of teens and pre-teens being killed at close range. I would not take my eleven year old to this film. That said, The Hunger Games is incredibly intense!
While the world is incredibly different from our own, I have to say I was transported into the “future” in less than five minutes. The stark differences between the districts and the capital were astounding. Choices of wardrobe really accentuated the over the top capital while the districts reminded me of documentaries of the Great Depression.
The gritty rough-hewn shooting style during the action scenes greatly accentuated the reality show feel, however if you are prone to motion sickness I would suggest you take some medication before the show. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like in Imax! It took a little while for my eyes to adjust to it, but the effect it had on me seemed to diminish over time.
I appreciated the fact that the characters and their relationships were the stars of the show. While the computer graphics were amazing, they didn’t take away from the story, they added the needed embellishments without taking over. For me, that is the mark of an excellent film.
Like Lauren, I laughed, I cried and I shouted and jumped (you know when!) along with a packed theater in rural America. The Hunger Games was definitely worth the price of admission. I can’t wait to see the next installment… I think I am going to have to buy all the books!
May the odds be always in your favor!