Opening in theatres at midnight from director Gary Ross and Lionsgate comes the much-anticipated film that takes on “The Hunger Games.”
This film tells the story of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), a young woman who lives in the poor 12th District. Set in the future, the Capitol orders that each district must give up two young people who will fight to the finish, televised for all to see.
When 12-year-old sister Primerose’s (Willow Shields) name is called, Katniss volunteers in her place. Also called is Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson). Taken away quickly to be trained for the games, Katniss learns fast what she must do to survive.
With mentor Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) and Cinna (Lenny Kravitz), Katniss is sent into the games with 24 others. The brutality happens immediately as she must decide how she will play the game. It is a matter of survival played out in front of millions; Katniss and Peeta must find a way survive and get back home.
FINAL WORD: Lawrence turns in an amazing performance as Katniss. She is focused and shows little fear. When she does it is stunning to watch her face transform. Having seen her performance in the film “Winter’s Bone,” it was clear then that Lawrence was an actress in every sense of the word and plays the character of Katniss to perfection.
Hutcherson as Peeta also plays the game, just a little differently, and to the benefit of both he and Lawrence’s character. Although the focus is clearly on Katniss, Hutcherson gives the ‘strong, silent type’ performance with the heart of a young man in love.
Harrelson as Haymitch is the drunken mentor who sees something in Katniss that straightens him out. It is an interesting performance and one I liked. Sutherland as the President has his own agenda and is not happy with what Katniss has done.
What caught me the most is the performance by Lenny Kravitz – although a smaller role, it is excellent and filled with emotion. It’s nice to see him on screen again.
One issue I was concerned with very briefly was the ages of those involved in “the games.” Not wishing to give anything away (and I’m sure I won’t for those who have read the books), the film brings to the forefront issues of reality television and those it affects the most – the younger generation. It doesn’t sway me in the slightest about reading or seeing more, but it was a thought that crossed my mind.
“The Hunger Games” is a trilogy of books by author Suzanne Collins and this is the screen debut of the first. The two subsequent books, “Catching the Fire” and “Mockingjay,” wind up the trilogy. I suspect that after tonight’s midnight opening, if viewers haven’t read the books there will be a run on the nearest bookstore or big retailer for those who want to know more. Checking the Internet this morning I see retailers already offering the three-book set. It will be a win-win for theatres and booksellers alike!
If there are more films to follow I do hope Lionsgate keeps with director Gary Ross’ vision of the film. Other than needing to rethink the hand-held camera bit, which is not only boring and silly, but hard on the eyes, Ross did a fantastic job with the scenes and the meticulous details. Those details are what keep the viewer glued to the seat for two and a half hours – yes, two and a half hours — it didn’t feel that long!
Other cast include: Stanley Tucci as Cesar Flickerman, Wes Bentley as Seneca Crane, Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne, Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, Amandla Stenberg as Rue, Toby Jones as Claudius Templesmith, Kimiko Gelman as Venia, Nelson Ascencio as Flavius, Brook Bundy as Octavia, Dayo Okeniyi as Thresh, Levin Rambin as Glimmer, Jack Quaid as Marvel, Latarsha Rose as Portia, and Donald Sutherland as President Snow.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give “The Hunger Games” four tubs of popcorn out of five. I truly believe the film was done well and, for someone who has not read the books (don’t worry, I shall remedy in due time), the story was incredibly easy to follow. The only feeling I left with was wanting to know more about the story. Yes, they suckered in another one!
Fans of the film who attended the early screening were thrilled. I spoke with avid readers after the film and they were extremely satisfied with what they saw. The only down side was they wanted more, immediately!
In the end – may the odds ever be in your favor!