Said to be one of the most anticipated films based on a book series, The Hunger Games tells the heart-wrenching story of a girl who’d do anything to protect her younger sister, and a society that takes pleasure in watching the suffering of the less fortunate among them. This gripping science-fiction tale is set in the post-war capitol city of Panem and its 12 surrounding districts.
The story is centered on a televised blood-sport tournament in which two representatives from each district, one male and one female, fight to the death for the amusement of the rest of the nation. The story begins when heroine Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence, offers herself as a sacrifice to take the place of her younger sister, who was chosen to take part in the Games. Lawrence plays opposite Josh Hutcherson, who plays Peeta, the male representative from their district.
Love, sacrifice, struggle, heartache, fear, and the will to overcome: this story has all of the classic elements of what could be a successful film series, and as the sequel, Catching Fire, is already slated to hit theaters late 2013, it looks like that’s exactly what Lionsgate is planning for. Lawrence, who you may recognize from her Academy Award-nominated performance in Winter’s Bone, does a great job as protagonist Katniss Everdeen.
Her portrayal of a young woman fighting for her life may seem a little forced at times, but overall she did a wonderful job conveying the frustration, anguish, and suffering that goes along with Katniss’s character. I’m sure we can look forward to seeing great things from this budding young actress in the years to come. But let’s not overlook Josh Hutcherson, who’s come a long way from his Zathura days. Hutcherson does a solid job as love-struck underdog Peeta Mellark, and his on-screen chemistry with Lawrence, much like Peeta’s relationship with Katniss, only got stronger as the film went on. Another notable character in the film is Woody Harrelson, who plays the knowledgeable yet unorthodox mentor to Katniss and Peeta, Haymitch Abernathy. Though his role may seem minor, as a veteran of the silver screen, Harrelson made for a top-notch Haymitch.
Though the movie may seem a bit slow, it always manages to pull you back in, and there’s always something of some significance happening. The story itself is definitely gripping, assuming you have a heart, so it’s something that the audience can get into. The characters develop well throughout the film as well, making you grow somewhat attached to, or hate them, as time goes on. And the special effects are all done very well, whether it’s the makeup, explosions, or computer-generated imagery. The action itself can be a little hard to follow at times due to some very “creative” camera work, but for the most part, it’s still a winner.
Speaking as someone who’s never read the books, this movie, to me, definitely did its job. It was entertaining and it made me want to go read the whole series, and isn’t that what a film based on a series of books should do? Overall, I give The Hunger Games a solid 4 out of 5 stars. Well done.