The Odd Are Truly In Our Favor As Lionsgate Delivers A Suspenseful, Tearful, And Above All Exciting Film About Teenage Slaughter.
As you may or may not know, but more than likely you do, The Hunger Games is part 1 of a best-selling book series written by Suzanne Collins in which kids aged 12-18 are drafted into fighting to the death for general entertainment until one is left standing. I know what you're thinking: I hate kids so much so watching them hunt each other should make a terrific film, right?! Well I, and my other fellows her at Movieweb, are here to tell you that yes, it makes for not just a good film, but an astounding one.
The Hunger Games starts Jennifer Lawrence (best known for her role in last year's X-Men: First Class) as Katniss Everdeen, a 16 year-old girl living in the slumps of a coal mining District of Panem. Every year Katniss and all children aged 12-18 throughout the 12 Districts are summoned to what is known as a reaping. At the reaping, a boy and a girl from each District are chosen as tributes to compete in the Hunger Games. And to make this even more horrifying for Katniss' sister Primrose, who has just turned 12 meaning her name is up for grabs for the first time, is chosen. In a way, I can relate to Primrose because I too have awful luck.
Being courageous and noble, Katniss volunteers herself to compete in order to protect her sister. This is where my first praise comes in. From the trailers and TV spots we know this is why Katniss is drafted in, but the film still manages to get your heart beating while it's all taking place. Through the use of powerful acting and dead silence from both the film and audience, the scene is a real powerhouse. Also chosen in the year's Hunger Games is Peeta Mellark, played by Josh Hutchinson.
And so the journey begins. Our two heroes set out to train at the Capitol which is, in other words, the marvelous city of many colors, glamorous people, and *ssholes. Here they are trained by they're mentor Haymitch (Woody Harrleson). Haymitch, a past winner of the Hunger Games, has let alcohol taken over his life - most likely from the fact that he was indeed in one of the games. But for the time being he has sobered up and Haymitch, along with Effie (Elizabeth Banks) and Cinna (Lenny Kravitz), train our two protagonists. And soon enough, the tournament begins.
As it being an entertaining premise, it did find some flaws. The first act does an amazing job amping you up for what you assume is going to be an action and suspense filled battle. That's not to say the game itself is bad, however it is a little slow. You can't necessarily blame the film for this because yeah, when it comes to hunting you're going to have to endure some camping. But when you've set the bar in the first part alone, which is mostly just setup, having the action be anything less than fast-paced and crazy is a little disappointing.
But that is not to say the rest of the film is not amazing. There's hatred, there's emotion - listen to me when I say this: THERE. IS. EMOTION. The film brings so much to the table in its 142 minute run-time. If anything else, it's just pure rooting fun!
But aside from some pacing issues there's only one other problem and that's the romance. Look, I can totally see this whole Katniss/Peeta thing, but sometimes it just feels out of place. The whole start of it point-blank comes out of nowhere, but the it learns to develop itself overtime. But the biggest thing throwing it off is the third corner of the triangle: Gale, played by Liam Hemsworth. Gale's about the fifth main character we meet, and quiet early on. He and Katniss have a conversation about the games and what would happen if they set off. But then all of a sudden, when Katniss and Peeta's relationship starts blossoming on TV, he becomes increasingly jealous. This makes everything romantic feel forced and a little unethical.
But despite these flaws, the acting lights up the film. Aside from Lawrence, Hutchinson, and Harrleson - all fantastic if I haven't made that clear - we have Stanley Tucci playing the Hunger Game's charismatic and charming host Caeser Flickerman, Wes Bentley doing a fine job as runner of the Hunger Games and the film's antagonist Seneca Crance, and Donald Sutherland, playing a small but effective role as President Snow. I'd also like to commend Elizabeth Banks and Lenny Kravitz in their roles as Katniss and Peeta's mentors, but no one compares to Lawrence who steals the show with her charm and emotion.
Overall, The Hunger Games is what I can only assume a fantastic rendition of the novel. Though it homes some slow pacing, slight character development, and ridiculous romance, The Hunger Games is a marvelous film of blood and tears. You'll find your heart pounding immensely right from the start. The Hunger Games earns 4 Mocking Jay pins out of 5.
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