The Hunger Games
Ah yes. The first pretty good movie of the year is finally here. Last year, Source Code was the first film to truly get new releases out of a slump. Similarly, this year’s The Hunger Games is also a science fiction based film. Perhaps filmmakers are learning how to make proper popcorn films now that are fresh and stand out during the first few months of the year? I may be speaking too soon, but for now that seems to be the case on a small level. The Hunger Games is very well a good film. I’m not sure how it would compare to the book as I have not read the book and barely even knew what the film was about until a few days ago. However, I think that’s why I enjoyed it. The problem is fans of a specific book will have expectations going into the respective film, wondering if characters are the way they imagined them and getting upset over parts that were taken out of the story on screen. For me I didn’t have this issue with the film. If I had read the book, however, the rating may go lower or even higher. For now it’s a solid mid 70.
I had no doubts about the cast. Woody Harrelson is always phenomenal, especially when he is both a comic and a serious character like he is here as Haymitch; A public drunk of whom you can laugh at and feel sorry for. He was a former winner of the Hunger Games so that only makes the situation more heartfelt. You have the always great Stanley Tucci and Donald Sutherland, and a surprisingly not bad performance by Lenny Kravitz.
But the main heart and soul of the movie is, well, Jennifer Lawrence. Are you surprised? I wasn’t. Not only is the main character, she is, as usual, the drive of the film. Much like her catapulting performance in Winter’s Bone, that put her on the train of best new actors, her role here is one that thrives on risk and sacrifice. She plays Katniss, a girl who, like her role in Winter’s Bone, is still young but is the head of her family, where she takes care of her mother and kid sister. Annually there is a tournament known as the Hunger Games, where citizens are picked at random and are put in an isolated area, where they must kill each other and be the last one standing. Katniss’s sister is picked to be in this year’s tournament, so Katniss, after having promised her sister she wouldn’t be picked, decides to take her place and risk her life to protect her.
The premise is basic and the character connections are easy to follow, yet the film still decides to carry out its plot in an interestingly detailed fashion. It’s not just about survival; It’s about strategy. Katniss isn’t just a bold girl, she’s a smart one. That’s what keeps this film going. Katniss ends up being quite a hero because of her ability to act through wit and not by instinct. With a hero we can trust, that always helps the film progress. You’ll want to trust this hero, because you’d be lost otherwise. The setting and music is daunting and frightening, even without the people in it. It’s not a comfortable area, but we accept it for what it is because our protagonist treats the audience like she does her family; With care and with determination.
The pacing is exciting and the action is done well and at the right moments. The issues I have have to do with the type of film and not necessarily the story itself entirely. The problem with survival films is that we basically know the hero will make it as far as possible. We are left worrying more about other characters than we are Katniss, who, as I said, is pretty skilled and not one I’d fear for (in fact, I’d fear her instead). The acting and atmosphere may be thrilling, and the action too, but we are left watching the film rather than being a part of it because of this. However, I have to give some applause to the fact that there is a bit of risk and connection created because of the backstory of Katniss and her significance to her family and to the honor of her deceased father. Not all obvious films are bad, and this is one that is still enjoyable. I just wish it went the extra mile. Then again, if it is true to the book, then it was basically forced to be this way.
Will The Hunger Games be one of the best films of the year? Who knows. It’s not only too early to tell, but it’s also up against many films that seem to be promising. However, this film was also promising and had a huge fan base before it was even released just because of the fact that it was being made. Will you enjoy it if you liked the books? Most probably. Again, I haven’t read the books so I don’t know what was left out or what names where changed or if they’re even alike at all. All I know is we have our first popcorn film of the year, and if you’re interested in seeing it, then get to it.