"The Hunger Games" stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, and Elizabeth Banks. Released on March 23, 2012, the film is about a young woman who volunteers to take her younger sister's place to compete in an annual television event.
The film is directed by Gary Ross, who also directed Pleasantville and Seabiscuit. It is based on the novel of the same name by Suzanne Collins, and it is the first installment of the Hunger Games film franchise. To celebrate the upcoming release of the Hunger Games finale, Mockingjay Part 2, I decided to look back at the film that started it all. In case you're wondering, I have not read any of the Hunger Games books, mostly because I read for school purposes. The first time seeing this film was during the staff screening for me and the employees at the cinema on opening weekend (Yes, I work at the cinema). I was so excited that I didn't even bother to sleep since they started the film at around midnight. So that's basically how I became interested in the franchise, but I didn't quite explain to you guys why I really liked this film.
The cast delivered some pretty good performances for a book-to-film adaptation. Jennifer Lawrence was brilliant as Katniss Everdeen, a young woman who competes in the Hunger Games. Truth be told, this was the first film I've seen Lawrence in, and she blew me away. The character of Katniss was very well developed because not only was she courageous and full of heart, but she's also vulnerable in her own way. Josh Hutherson and Liam Hemsworth both provided good performances as Peeta and Gale, respectively. The production design was really stunning in terms of location. The dystopian future that the film takes place in doesn't stray too far into something that's far-fetched, but rather expresses the realism of that future. I also really enjoyed the costume design in terms of its stylistic look and how they represent the characters, especially Effie Trinket (played by Elizabeth Banks). The screenplay works well with the film's political themes and emotional depth. It's actually quite scary to see this type of stuff happening to us because of how it's portrayed on the screen. It almost felt like I was part of that situation myself. Ross did a great job at showcasing the characters' feelings during those types of situations.
There were some parts in the film where the editing felt a little choppy, but it didn't exactly bother me that much because I understand that they were going for a PG-13 rating. The cinematography was pretty good, but the shaky cam for some of the action sequences was a bit too much. Sometimes it's hard for me to see what's going on during those sequences, and that's what brought the film a step down from being a perfect adaptation. The pacing is mostly consistent with its running time, although it can be a bit slow for some people. You see, the actual games doesn't start until the second half of the film, which means the first half revolves around the preparation of the event. For those who wanted to see the intensity and violence of the Hunger Games, well, you have to get past the first half of the film first. I didn't mind watching the first half because it gave me time to know and care about the main characters.
Overall, despite its shaky cam problem and some slow pacing, "The Hunger Games" is a worthy and engaging adaptation to one of the most popular young adult novels ever made thanks to some strong performances, its political themes, Ross' direction, and its solid, yet sometimes emotional, screenplay. Fans of the book series will definitely like this film, even those who enjoy dystopian films. May the odds be ever in your favor.