*******www.innovativecommunications.tv “The Hunger Games” was a best selling book-now its breaking box office records. But is the movie any good? I’m Keith Kelly, and my thoughts are coming up right now.
I’m not going to be comparing the book version of “The Hunger Games” to the movie version, because I’m one of the few that haven’t yet read any of the books. Instead you’ll get an unbiased look at how this story holds up as a film.
Overall, this was an enjoyable, sometimes thrilling, futuristic adventure. It’s got a little bit of everything-a strong yet vulnerable female lead, a love triangle, battles to the death and a dystopian framework. It’s based on the young adult series by author Suzanne Collins, and is set in a messed up war-torn future, where America as we know it is gone-replaced by Panem-a country divided into the Capitol, and 12 other districts. Most of the country outside the Capitol is dirt-poor, with a small fraction of society controlling the wealth and power. Sound familiar? To keep the people in check, there is a yearly televised gladiator contest-a fight to the death, with the participants being chosen in a lottery system. There are 24 contestants-a male and a female from each of the 12 districts, and they fight on live TV until only 1 champion is left alive. The victor gets the spoils-a life of wealth and luxury.
The film mostly centers on the two tributes from District 12-Katniss and Peeta, as we follow their grooming, mentoring, and finally, their battles to survive.
The strongest part of this film is it’s lead actress, Jennifer Lawrence. She plays Katniss with just the right mixture of toughness and sensitivity, which really helps anchor the story. The believability of her portrayal helps drive the emotions of the film. I’m not sure how she stacks up to the book version, but she nails it in the movie. Also excellent were Stanley Tucci as TV Host and MC Caesar Flickerman and Woody Harrelson as Haymich Abernathy-a hard drinking former District 12 combatant who years earlier survived the Hunger Games. The weakest link was Josh Hutcherson as fellow District 12 Tribute Peeta. I know I’ll probably get a lot of “you’re so stupid!” comments from the young female viewers because of his growing popularity and hunkieness-but hear me out. There was nothing technically wrong with his performance. But Peeta didn’t come off as a fully realized person to me-he seemed more like an actor emoting and forwarding the narrative than a living, multi-faceted human being. I’m not sure if there were more shades of grey to his character in the novel-but in the film I didn’t quite buy the character or the portrayal. Maybe if I were a 12 year old girl I would be head over heels in love with him-but I’m not and I wasn’t.
The pacing was well done, moving at a nice clip for a long movie, and the tension and scares were handled well. However the cinematography and editing of the hand to hand action scenes were all “shaky cam” with lots of really fast cuts-which is not my favorite way of viewing fight scenes. Yes, it’s realistic and visceral-but you can never tell who’s stabbing who or who is winning until the victor stands and the vanquished lies dead.
Even with all my quibbles, “The Hunger Games”, directed by Gary Ross, is a very solid first entry in the franchise, earning it a grade of “B”. I’m Keith Kelly.
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