Movie Review: The Hunger Games – a tribute to the girl who was on fire

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The Hunger Games ~ Lionsgate

My tween daughter and I saw a screening of The Hunger Games (Lionsgate) Wednesday night. This movie is going to be a huge hit and we were very lucky to snag a couple of passes for the screening. According to the news, all the midnight showings last night were sold out. A bunch of my daughter’s six-grader friends went to the midnight showing even though it was a school night (classes start at 7:30 am at my daughter’s middle school). As you probably know, the film is based on the first book of The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins. Below is a quick summary of the film. Continue reading for the full movie review of The Hunger Games.

The 411 for The Hunger Games

The story Two children try to survive a deadly game mandated by the government.
Appropriateness for children No sexual content, but there is some violence and intense scenes. In addition, the story is about 24 children trying to kill each other in the Hunger Games.
Positives
  • Interesting story
  • Good acting
  • Great musical score
  • Fairly faithful to the book
Negative
  • Missing material
Release date March 23, 2012
Rating Rated PG-13 for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images.
Runtime 142 minutes
Genre Drama, action, science fiction

You don’t need to read the book first
The movie is based on The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. However, you don’t need to read the book before watching the film adaption. Basically, this is what you need to know. In the future, there is a wealthy central government called the Capitol. Surrounding the Capitol are twelve poor districts. Long ago (74 years), the districts rebelled, fought against the Capitol, and lost the war. As punishment, the Capitol created the Hunger Games. In these annual games, each district must select two tributes (a boy and a girl) to compete. The 24 children, ages 12 to 18, compete against each other in a survival of the fittest type of game. The game ends when there is only one child left alive. Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark are the tributes from district twelve. The two 16-year-old teenagers are the main focus of the story.

The world will be watching
In the Hunger Games, there are cameras hidden all over the forest of the game arena. The video and audio are broadcasted live to the Capitol and all twelve districts. The hunger game is essentially a reality show. Except in this reality show, the contestants don’t get drunk and backstabbed each other. Instead, they try to kill each other with swords, knives, bombs, and arrows. The losers die in this game. The sole winner lives and gets to spend the rest of his or life in comfort.

The movie is slower, but more emotional
The Hunger Games is one of those books that is hard to put down. From what I can remember (I read the book about two years ago), the book moves along fairly quickly and keeps you on the edge of your seat. The movie, however, is much slower and is not as suspenseful (this could be because I already know what’s going to happen in the story). While the pacing of the film is slower, I felt the movie was more emotional than the book. I’m fairly certain the excellent musical score is a big reason for this. At times, the combination of the story and musical soundtrack was very moving.

142 minutes is long, but not long enough
The Hunger Games is about 142 minutes, which is long for a movie. But even at 142 minutes, it was still hard to fit the entire story into the film. The film is a faithful adaption of the book, and a good portion of the book is in the movie. The main parts that seem to be missing are character development, background information, and motives behind the characters’ actions. In fairness to the movie, this is a problem almost all movies have when the screenplay is based on a book.

Great cast
The star of The Hunger Games is Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss Everdeen). As usual, Lawrence does an excellent job. Other actors that stood out in the film include Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark), Woody Harrelson (Haymitch Abernathy), Lenny Kravitz (Cinna), and Elizabeth Banks (Effie Trinket). The movie was directed by Gary Ross. Other people in the movie included Donald Sutherland (President Snow), Wes Bentley (Seneca Crane), Stanley Tucci (Caesar Flickerman), Liam Hemsworth (Gale Hawthorne), Willow Shields (Primrose Everdeen), Toby Jones (Claudius Templesmith), Amandla Stenberg (Rue), Paula Malcomson (Katniss’ mother), Raiko Bowman (Peeta’s mother), Kimiko Gelman (Venia), Nelson Ascencio (Flavius), Brooke Bundy (Octavia), Dayo Okeniyi (Thresh), Leven Rambin (Glimmer), Jack Quaid (Marvel), Latarsha Rose (Portia), Alexander Ludwig (Cato), Isabelle Fuhrman (Clove), Ian Nelson (Tribute boy from District 3), Kalia Prescott (Tribute girl from District 3), Ethan Jamieson (Tribute boy from District 4), Jacqueline Emerson (Fox Face), Mackenzie Lintz (Tribute girl from District 8), Annie Thurman (Tribute girl from District 9), Dakota Hood (Tribute girl from District 10), Amber Chaney (Avox Girl), and Karan Kendrick (Atala).

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