Friday, 23 March 2012

The Hunger Games (2012)

Running Time: 142 minutes 
Directed By: Gary Ross
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Toby Jones, Wes Bentley,
Screenplay: Gary Ross, Billy Ray and Suzanne Collins
UK Release Date: 23rd March 2012 - UK

Quick Plot: Set in post apocalyptic America, the Capitol select one boy and one girl from each of the12 District's of Panem for the annual Hunger Games televised event. District 12's Katniss Everdeen volunteers herself in place of her younger sister to compete against the twenty three other tributes in a death batlle where there can only be one winner.

Review: One of 2012’s most anticipated teen fantasy films is finally here and to put it simply- it’s fantastic. Hollywood is use to the teen book turn film by now, however The Hunger Games has everything in line making it unbelievably breathtaking while bringing a fresh flare for dystopian fiction.
Having a huge, devoted fan base, Gary Ross’ The Hunger Games has picked up anticipation from the moment the film was announced. With the high expectations, the film could very easily wallow in disappointment and shatter the delicate fan base, except the cast, the glorious cinematography and the script don’t let it fall.

Away from the fact it’s based on a book, The Hunger Games works as a film alone. There’s no need for prior research to understand the ruin and dismay that the population of Panem have to face. The first thirty minutes are executed perfectly by a ray of fantastic cuts from the gloomy, grey and bleak District 12 to the eccentric, colourful and bizarre Capitol. Katniss wakes to the cries of her younger sister in a nightmare, then sets out early to get good ‘game’ along with her best friend Gale. District 12’s poverty is enlightened when Lawrence rips a hand sized piece of bread and smells it; making it known this is a rare occasion. Katniss’ warmth from the fresh bread is short lived as it’s soon followed by the reaping. An almost unrecognisable bright pink Elizabeth Banks walks out as the white faced Effie Trinket, clearly revealing she does not belong in the district, and begins the annual introduction to the history of the games.

Ever growing with her talent, Jennifer Lawrence is faultless as our protagonist Katniss Everdeen. Becoming the heroic teen role model would have been a task and a half, yet Lawrence makes it look effortless. The film is unable to capture Katniss’ inner voice like the novel, but from Lawrence’s natural strength she completely glides her way to be Miss Everdeen physically and mentally. Katniss isn’t a push over instead she’s independent and will do all it takes to protect her family since her motherly instinct kicked in after her father’s death. Heck, she volunteers herself to save her sister from a death match where the odds are not at all in her favour to win- that is something special. She has attitude but a soft side, which helps make the film frightfully believable. Rising star Josh Hutcherson is the boy from tribute from District 12, Peeta Mellark Hutcherson, though unnaturally blonde, gratifyingly captures Peeta’s first appearances as uncomfortable and weaker opposed to Katniss. As the story continues, Hutcherson displays how the character grows, keeping to his vulnerability but portraying Peeta’s confidence that he finds in the games.

Though the games are the centre of attention, there is a deep insight to how important the build up to the games for the Capitol and the ways they are glorified as entertainment. Here we meet the stylist for District 12 Cinna (Lenny Kravitz), who brings warmth to Katniss’ as a friend and is one of the only people who she can bring herself not to snap at. These scenes before the games are beautiful and it is as if the book has been brought directly onto the screen. The grand opening where Katniss has to make her impression picks up pace while leaving the small feeling of worry over what lies ahead.

The screenwriters could have taken a risk and had the film following only Katniss on her journey from volunteering to be in the games, but thankfully the Capitol and gamemaker’s have a huge involvement. Their brutal toying and manipulation of the game matched with the commentary by Caesar (another perfect casting with Stanley Tucci) means that all areas of the game are witnessed like a televised event. It’s all a bit too familiar to events we watch on television now, which is the chilling part.

Gary Ross doesn’t just stop with having a perfect cast and brilliantly adapted screenplay, everything in the editing suite is at the highest standard. The soundtrack is haunting, captivating and enhances the rush of the games and the dystopian theme back in District 12. With the use of a handheld camera, quick cuts through the violence and close ups on the deaths, tributes and severe concentration on little features creates irrational, invasive tension. Though it shouldn’t be compared, these techniques correlate to the book’s precision of detail. Keeping it to a 12A has its drawbacks for an audience, but with the swift editing and camera work the deaths and violence are quick to leave a lot more to imaginations. Despite the cuts, the film remains horrifically and brilliantly brutal.

The Hunger Games never once lets you stop for air and keeps on going till the credits. Jennifer Lawrence gives another exceptional performance boosted by a fabulous cast and editing team. Gary Ross has certainly created the teen sci fi fantasy that will define 2012.

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  1. Cannot wait to see this. Great review, in my opinion! :)

  2. Ammarah (GETtoasted/Slaughterthedaisies)5 April 2012 at 17:11

    You're just getting better and better at reviews Nadine! You picked up on everything I thought about it, not only as a fan of the book but also as a movie junkie. There were hardly any spoilers, which made it accessible for all people, whether they've seen it or not. Empire have got a run for their money!

  3. Loved this film so much!
    I thought it complimented the book well, although Becky - who hadn't read the books did miss a few points but they weren't really significant things. It was just so good, and this is a great review! I was waiting to read this until after I'd seen the film (:


  4. Nice review, Nadine. I did like this one a good amount, and I respected that it kept my attention during the beginning, even if it did take a good hour and like ten minutes to actually get to the Games. I liked it for the most part, but I would have liked to see a little more brutality (even though that sounds really bad, lol). There's nothing like a little good brutal action. I know it's aimed toward a teen audience, but it is a brutal subject. We could handle the brutality in the book, couldn't we? I would have just loved to see like a 14A (was it PG13 or 14A?..) or 18A rating on this. I did like it enough to be pretty excited for the sequel.


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