Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games is probably the most anticipated movie of 2012 besides The Avenger and The Dark Knight Rises. The hype is warranted because the book of the same title has a huge following among the younger generations. I myself was sucked into the hype and read the book and found it to be a great novel. Not earth shattering but it was a great story with fascinating characters and brutal action. This is not a review of the book and I will be focusing solely on the movie and I will attempt to make it as spoiler-free as I possibly can.

This is the basic idea behind the story. The nation of Panem has risen out of the war, disaster and the ravaged ruins of what was once known as North America. Over 70 years before the events of the film, the thirteen poverty-stricken districts of Panem rebelled against the wealthy, controlling Capitol. After its crushing victory, the Capitol devised the Hunger Games as an annual reminder to the twelve remaining districts of its authority, and as continuing punishment for the rebellion. Every year, each District must hold a raffle (known as the "reaping") to choose one boy and one girl (ranging from age 12–18) to participate in the Hunger Games, a competition in which each of the 24 contestants (known as the "tributes") battle to the death in a televised arena until only one is left alive. The story follows 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, a girl from District 12 who volunteers for the 74th annual Hunger Games in place of her younger sister, Primrose. Also selected from District 12 is Peeta Mellark, a baker's son whom Katniss knows from school, who once gave her bread when her family was starving.

Jennifer Lawrence plays the main character, Katniss Everdeen. She is the single best part of this movie displaying a certain type of effortless grace in embodying this beloved character. Katniss is the anti-Bella (main character from Twilight) because she is a strong willed, forceful, and independent young woman. She has no problem fending for herself and Lawrence continues her string of great acting roles with this character. Lawrence is probably the best young actress in Hollywood right now and her performances in Winter's Bone, X-Men: First Class, The Beaver, and The Hunger Games all serve as proof of this fact. Josh Hutcherson does a great job of bringing the character, Peeta, to life as well. He displays the same strength, charisma, and innocence that the character had in the first book of the series. Woody Harrelson plays Haymitch Abernathy, who guides Katniss and Peeta in their journey in preparing for The Hunger Games and also looks out for them during the games as well. Woody does a great job of bringing this character to the screen and showing that under his broken and drunken exterior there is a wealth of knowledge and becomes a true friend to the two children he is mentoring.

The action in the movie was pretty much what I thought it would be due to the PG-13 rating and it was still frantic and brutal enough to hold my attention. It is not nearly the quality of the action in the book but what can you do, fans of the book have a right to see the movie and who am I to bitch that there is not enough gore in the movie. Outside of some lackluster action sequences, everything else in the movie was top notch and watching the movie was really like seeing the book come to life as I had envisioned it in my mind. I just finished reading Catching Fire, which is the sequel and I cannot wait for the movie to come out in late 2013.

On a side note, I must applaud Lenny Kravitz for his role in the movie. It was odd seeing a person being so genuine in a movie and I might sound corny, but it seemed like he wasn't even acting. I felt like he was his character, Cinna, in every way. Kravitz wasn't forcing anything and all of his lines seemed organic and heartfelt. If this is just a sample of his acting ability then someone needs to cast this man in more supporting roles as soon as possible. It also helps that Cinna is one of the best characters in the book even though he is a fairly small character in the overall story.

There are probably many things that I did not include that I wished I had included in this review, but what it comes down to is that despite not being as great as the novel, the film adaptation of The Hunger Games is a great way to kick off the summer movie season. Lawrence, Harrelson, and Kravitz are just three of the reasons to go see this movie. This series will rival the quality of any of the Harry Potter movies in my personal opinion. This was one hell of a start for the series and it easily deserves a 9/10. A little lacking in action but made up for it in visuals and character depth. May the odds be ever in your favor.

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