Brian Holak Journal Staff
The lobby of the AMC Lowes at Boston Common was full with eager fans at 9:30 p.m. last Thursday, waiting for the midnight release of The Hunger Games. The fans arriving early to the premiere, many of them donning various merch or costumes, was a testament to the power of the series.
The Hunger Games, which had the third largest opening of all time this weekend, has had a lot of hype leading up to its release. Despite some minor flaws, the movie definitely lives up to the hype. The visual style, action scenes, and excellent acting by most of the cast, especially Jennifer Lawrence, are what make this a worthy adaptation.
The movie focuses on a post-apocalyptic future North America known as Panem in which the oppressive Capitol forces one teenage boy and one girl from each of the 12 “districts” to compete in the annual Hunger Games. The Games is a fight-to-the-death in which there can only be one victor. It is broadcast throughout the nation and serves as a twisted punishment for a past uprising. Katniss, the female heroine with a passion for hunting, is forced from her poverty-stricken district into the maddening world of the Games.
It is, for the most part, very faithful to the book. All of the major scenes are intact and done very well, but some smaller moments were left out. The development of a favorite supporting character is cut noticeably short, making the events in the film have less of an impact, but some abridging is expected in major adoptions like this. There are also some nice added scenes that allow viewers to glimpse behind the scenes of the Games and highlight the twisted thinking of the president.
The movie utilizes a shaky-camera style of filming that is effective in adding more stark realism and energy to the movie. During the action scenes, it emphasizes the frantic nature of the Games. The harsh contrast between the impoverished District 12 and the gluttonous Capitol is also shown very well in the movie. Capitol citizens look just as lavish and crazy as those imagined in the book.
The violence and gore is toned down for the movie, but it doesn’t detract from the story at all. If filmmaker’s showed all of the brutality that was in the book, it would definitely be rated R. That being said, many scenes are still quite intense, even for those who have expectations going in. Some scenes will leave viewers breathless while others might bring out a few tears.
One of the best aspects of the film is actress Jennifer Lawrence, who plays Katniss. Her role is central to the success of the franchise and if she wasn’t up to par, the whole story would crumble. Luckily, Lawrence is the perfect Katniss. She elicits all of Katniss’s emotions with a strong, and yet at times subtle, fire. Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutharland, and Lenny Kravits serve as a great supporting cast.
Issues of government propaganda and mistrust, our own obsession with reality television, and even the plight of the 99% are brought up in the film, making it relevant to today’s society. The film’s makers don’t force the issues on the viewers, but they are constantly in the background of the action and in the revealing images on screen.
Although it works as a stand-alone film, those who read the books will undoubtedly appreciate more of the movie than Hunger Games virgins. Some parts may even move too quickly and confuse non-readers, but they should anticipate that going in to the theater.
The Hunger Games, although not perfect, is one of the best literary adaptations to hit the screen. It is just as exciting and meaningful as the book and thrives in unexpected ways. It is a surefire hit and will leave viewers eagerly awaiting the next installment.