Movie review: The Hunger Games

 

“The Hunger Games” is a superb film. It’s well made, beautifully acted and perhaps most importantly, faithfully adapted from the book.

The movie is a shining achievement in the checkered history of big-screen translations of novels. I had few gripes after walking out of the theater, mirroring the sentiments of almost everyone else in the sold-out showing.

It may be 142 minutes long, but there was hardly a dull moment. The time flew by, and by the end, I was already anxiously waiting for the sequel to be released.

For those unfamiliar with the source material, “The Hunger Games” is the first of three novels in “The Hunger Games Trilogy.” The big-screen adaptation covers the entire first novel with a few subtle hints at what will be coming in the other two films.

To explain the story of “The Hunger Games” in a short, simplified way is almost impossible. I’ll try not to go too deep, but there’s a lot of information you need to know to understand what’s happening in the movie.

The film is set in a distant, dystopian future in the nation of Panem. There are 12 districts of land surrounding a central land known as the “Capitol.”

Each year, 24 teens between the ages of 12 and 18, one male and one female from each district, are picked as “tributes” to compete in the “Hunger Games.”

This happens in a process known as the “Reaping.” It’s the day when all 24 are chosen by a random drawing and then sent by high-speed train to the “Capitol.”

The reason for the “Hunger Games” is the rebellion the 13 districts led against the “Capitol.”

After the rebellion was squashed, the 13th district was wiped off the face of the map, and the remaining 12 districts were forced to participate in the “Hunger Games.”

The “Capitol” holds the event annually to punish the districts for the rebellion and remind them of the power they hold over them.

The plot of the first film in the series focuses on Katniss Everdeen, played here to perfection by Jennifer Lawrence, and her journey into the “Hunger Games” arena.

During the “Reaping,” Katniss’ little sister, Primrose, is chosen, and Katniss volunteers to go in her place.

The male chosen to compete is Peeta Mellerk, played with a pitch-perfect mix of strength and integrity by Josh Hutcherson. He has an important history with Katniss which is slowly revealed throughout the film.

On their way to the “Capitol,” their mentor, Haymitch Abernathy, joins them. Haymitch is a former winner of the “Hunger Games” whose job is to get both Katniss and Peeta prepared for battle in the arena.

Gary Ross, the director of “Seabiscuit” and “Pleasantville,” showcases the journey up to and including the games with stylish and graceful direction. The result is an action packed thrill ride with just the right mix of humor and emotion.

Several famous faces pop up on the screen in supporting roles, but by far my favorite was Lenny Kravitz. Yes, this is the same Lenny Kravitz that is most famously known for a few choice R&B/ pop hits in the late ‘90s early 2000s.

The way Kravitz portrays Cinna, the stylist assigned to dress Katniss and Peeta to impress the crowds and sponsors in the “Capitol,” caught me off guard. His ability to give Cinna such emotional depth, in such a small of amount of screen time, was astounding.

It doesn’t surprise me in the least that this film had the third highest opening weekend box office gross ever. “The Hunger Games” is a great piece of art which deserves to be seen, and enjoyed, on a movie screen.

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