REVIEW: "The Hunger Games" Incredibly Engaging And Satisfying
As movie studios always want to do with successful books (especially those with well over 20 million copies in print), a movie adaptation was ordered. Adapting beloved books is a tricky task, as they turn everyone into a critic, and it is impossible to please everyone.
Somehow, though, director Gary Ross has pulled off the unimaginable, both literally and figuratively. The odds were ever against Ross making a successful, pleasing movie of "The Hunger Games." While the book is chock full of images, it is also rife with challenges from a filmmaking perspective. Undaunted, Ross, together with Collins, who served as a screenwriter and producer, tackled every issue and dealt with it in a creative and imaginative way.
In the unlikely case that you are reading this review but have not read the book, I first of all recommend that you go out and read the book. It's scintillating and you probably won't be able to put it down. If, for some reason, you are still reading this and have ignored my advice to read the book (but really, do!), herein follows a brief plot summary. Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is a 16-year-old huntress from the destitute District 12. When her beloved little sister's name is chosen at random to participate in the Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers to compete in her place. She is then whisked off to the Capitol with her fellow tribute, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), a boy she barely knows, but with whom she already has a storied past. Soon enough, the games begin, and both are entered into a desperate battle to the death.
As a whole, the acting in the movie is quite good. Lawrence, who was nominated for an Academy Award for her work on the tonally similar "Winter's Bone" is particularly strong as the heroine—thankfully, as she occupies the screen about 95% of the time. The rest of the cast is rounded out quite well with both Hollywood veterans (including Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, and Elizabeth Banks) and relative newcomers, as Katniss' fellow Tributes.
One of Ross' greatest successes is in his departures from the original text. While the experience of seeing the book's pages come to life is an unparalleled delight, the new material, which gives glimpses into the machinations of the Hunger Games, is even more of a treat. Additionally, the editing does a wonderful job of keeping the pace of the film moving along at a good clip and gives unexpected insight to Katniss' experience inside the Games.
While the film is not faultless (some of the special effects are less than stellar, and there are some self-indulgent and groan-worthy moments of melodrama), it creates an incredibly compelling story. The movie is almost two and a half hours long, but does not seem it, and, more importantly, leaves the audience yearning for more. All in all, "The Hunger Games" is an incredibly engaging and enjoyable exploration of a possible post-apocalyptic future.
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