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‘Hunger Games’ satisfy cravings

March 30, 2012

With each book series adapted into a successful movie series comes an increasing pressure to match, if not exceed, all expectations when turning page into film.

Judging by the various Internet statuses and posts that contained phrases like “May the odds be ever in your favor,” the makers of The Hunger Games had much to bring … and boy, did they deliver. The film features a phenomenal cast, blood-pounding action sequences and enough slow, heart-wrenching moments to tie everything together into a searing war story.

Based on the novel by Suzanne Collins, “The Hunger Games” is set in the future where 24 children ages 12 to 18 are selected to fight to the death in a public arena, recorded and televised like a perverse reality show. The protagonist, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), becomes involved when she volunteers in place of her sister for District 12, and so begins the fast-paced story.

I give a thumbs up to director Gary Ross, also a screenwriter along with Collins and Billy Ray, as the film is both a highly faithful adaptation and a genuinely high-quality movie. On top of capturing most of the book’s key moments, I like how the film features clever explanation techniques and tasteful editing that expresses violence without excessive use of blood.

Having read the books, I knew what would happen, yet I still spent most of the movie tensed in my seat, enthralled at what was happening – that is a mark of a good movie, in my book.

What ties the film together is Lawrence, who owns the character of Katniss. She portrays her rough-around-the-edges outside and, as the film progresses, skillfully shows each crack in the armor to reveal Katniss’s progressively wounded inner psyche.

Lawrence is the head of an extraordinary cast, ranging from big names like Donald Sutherland as the intimidating President Snow, Elizabeth Banks as the frivolous Effie and Woody Harrelson as the drunken Haymitch to relatively new faces like Alexander Ludwig as the brutal Cato to Josh Hutcherson as the other District 12 tribute, Peeta. Each actor seemed to savor their role, giving me the impression that they are as devoted to their characters as the book’s fans are.

However, I noticed a few weak points. The relationships that Katniss had with Rue and Gale, which are fleshed out in the book, were rather downplayed in the film. Certain scenes also seemed very rushed, and while the fast pace mostly suited the film’s story, I felt that the filmmakers could have highlighted certain moments better.

While I will not spoil the ending, I will say that filmmakers ended the movie just like the book. Sutherland, with just a subtle clench of his hands, appropriately leaves viewers with the foreboding feeling that the fight is just beginning. Luckily, the sequel, “Catching Fire,” is slated for release in November of next year, and seeing as this is the best movie I have seen in a long time, count me in.

Cassie Burton
Staff Writer

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