Thanks to Roadshow Films, we had the chance to see the highly anticipated The Hunger Games before its Australian cinematic release. This is our review of the film – but as usual – no matter what we say; we recommend that you still go to your local cinema and see the film because: There is no better critic than yourself!
Adapted from the Suzanne Collins’ novels and directed by Gary Ross, The Hunger Games are set in a futuristic society, where North America has collapsed and the Capitol selects a young boy and girl from each of the twelve districts to fight to the death on a live television program each year. In the games, the 24 participants are forced to kill each others, with all the country watching every single thing on live tv.
The story centers on Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), who volunteers for the games as a representative of district 12, in order to take the spot of her young sister who was randomly selected as a contender. She is joined by Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) another contender randomly selected from his district. Both of them have to leave their homes keeping in mind that only one might come back alive after the games.
The Hunger Games, is a correct adaptation from the novels, where director Gary Ross carefully honours some minor details that for sure fans of the saga will notice, such as the gold eyeliner in Cinna’s character (Lenny Kravitz) and Effie Trinket’s (Elizabeth banks) outfits.
Speaking about the leading actors, Jennifer Lawrence is just a perfect choice for Katniss, she is brave, miserable and a survivor that carries the weight of the film on her shoulders the entire time in a great way. Co-star Josh Hutcherson, does a correct work as Peeta, giving the emotion needed to the plot and of course taking part on the love triangle with Katniss, who has a boyfriend, Gale Hawthorne (Australia’s Liam Hemsworth) waiting for her in District 12. Speaking about Hemsworth, he is pretty much absent in this film, with just minor appearances in some iconic moments, especially while watching his beloved fighting for her life and feeling the frustration when she gets close to Peeta.
Secondary characters played by Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley, Lenny Kravitz, Woody Harrelson and Donald Stuuerland are very well presented following the description from the novels and all of them had scenes to shine.
With this fantastic cast and great performances from each of them, you might think the film is an absolute hit. However, the film falls in a huge way after the first hour, because as soon as the representatives are sent to the battle field a very confusing cinematography with shaking cameras so close to the action that not allow you to see what is going on, totally ruining the beginning of the games. Moreover, the location seems to be everytime the same generic bushland and you can`t even have a clear picture of how big is the area where all this games are happening. All this is followed for a total lack of action and tension between the participants, where many of them died quickly and we never saw how or why in a clear attempt to keep the film open for all public in order to avoid age restrictions, something that plays totally against the final cut of the movie, and unfortunately as a consequence transforming The Hunger Games in a soft copy of the marvellous cult Japanese film Battle Royale mixed with some small details from 1987′s The Running Man. Still, there are some cool scenes, like the one with the mines and with the “hornets’ honeycomb”.
The film also features some very poor work in terms of CGI creatures, that as described on the book at one stage are magically released to attack the reminding participants, in order to unleash part of the climax of the film, something that not quite happen at 100% because they look extremely fake. Let’s add to that the role of one of the villains of the film Cato (Alexander Ludwig) who is meant to be the fearless champion to defeat, and that doesn`t work well in the film adaptation, because the character is undeveloped and his lines are basic and forced, even at the final confrontation where he is meant to shine.
Overall, The Hunger Games is a film that will work for the fans of the novels, because includes every highlight from them, such as the presentation parade of the representatives including “The Fire”, the training, the sponsors, the iconic scene at the cave and of course the first glimpses at the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gale. On the other hand, Non-fans or people who hasn’t read the books might not like it, feeling that the 2 hours 14 minutes are far too much for a movie that doesn’t deliver the action expected with teenagers hunting each others, losing their faith and even getting mental.
The Hunger Games, is for sure the beginning of a new successful franchise, that for some people could become the new Twilight or Harry Potter saga, because it targets the same kind of public, featuring young good-looking actors, love triangles, a great cast and some action around.
The Hunger Games opens March 22, 2012