#337/#54 The Hunger Games
In the dystopic future, yearly hunger game are undertaken by 2 tributes from each of the 12 districts in which participants fight until only one remains. This year sees the struggles of District 12’s female tribute, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), as she tackles life in the games.
I hate when I’ve got to review a film like this. A film that by every definition is a good film but just doesn’t capture the spark to make it a great one. It’s easy to say bad things about a bad movie but it’s difficult to pinpoint what’s missing to make an acceptable one better than it should be. It’s also more often than not a film I’ve already read the book/series of before it made its way to the silver screen. I don’t know if it’s higher expectations or just familiarity with the story but it happened to Harry Potter, it happened to Lisbeth Salander and now it has happened to Katnis Everdeen.
The good, first off, is plentiful throughout the film. The music, cinematography and set design really work to capture the feel of poverty in the districts and the decadence of the capitol. Additionally specific actors such as Jennifer Lawerence, Stanley Tucci and Elizabeth Banks all fill their roles perfectly and others such as Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, Amandla Stenberg and Donald Sutherland, while not what I had pictured from the books, all do really well to make their roles fit them properly. All of the behinds the scenes stuff with the game keepers and President Snow (Sutherland) was also a welcome addition.
The bad, however, comes when they decided to cut things out or speed things up that were paramount in the book. I’m not talking little things like cutting the character of Madge out. That made sense to keep the narrative flow going, but things like having Katnis find water right away, or meeting, bonding with and then losing Rue in such rapid succession or all the cave scenes. It kept the gist of why all those things were important but it lost the emotional impact that came with them. It lost the oppressive feel that even the games were trying to kill Katnis right from the beginning with something as simple as withholding water.
Additionally, in a similar vein to Dragon Tattoo’s Lisbeth Salander, Kantis does not vocalise anything. The majority of the context we get in the books is from her observations and inner thoughts so we lose a lot of this in the transition to the screen. They fixed this a little by adding the commentary by Tucci’s character but it still felt a bit like an abridged version of the story. All the same content just none of the context.
Lastly I didn’t like Josh Hutcherson as Peeta. I generally like him as an actor but he just felt pointless and out of his league acting along side Lawrence in this. I’ve never liked the character of Peeta but the first book was where he made the most sense to the hunger games storyline so you’d expect this film to be the one where he would establish his presence and it just doesn’t materialise here.
Overall I still enjoyed the movie, and I’m going to be checking out the further ones in the series, but there was a better version of this film that could have been made. 3/5