Movie review: The Hunger Games

Justin Kroll

Staff Writer

Rated PG-13 for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images – all involving teens.

The minute I walked into the Israeli movie theater to see The Hunger Games, I was full of excitement and anxiety. Excitement because I had read the books last year, and the first one was absolutely phenomenal; I couldn’t wait to see how it would be done on the silver screen. Anxiety because, well, I really hoped they wouldn’t ruin it. So many of my favorite childhood books had been turned into movies, and so many of them had been completely ruined – Eragon, The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson), Stormbreaker (Alex Rider), Inkheart, A Series of Unfortunate Events. Even some of the Harry Potter movies had lost so much from the page-to-screen adaptation. All of those had been bestselling books in a series, and all, except for Harry Potter and possibly The Lightning Thief (with a sequel coming in 2013), were the only movies made. Too many times I had walked into a theater to see the my favorite book, and too many times I had walked out crestfallen and depressed, heartbroken that they could ruin such a good book.

The minute The Hunger Games ended, I felt like I wanted to cry. Not because they had butchered yet another wonderful novel, but because they finally did it right. The Hunger Games was everything I expected it to be and more. So many times beautiful scenes, important dialogue and even plot twists are cut out of the movie because there’s just not enough time for everything. But I can hardly think of one important part in the books that wasn’t in the movie as well.

Taking place in the future, The Hunger Games tells the story of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), a girl who volunteers in the place of her sister as one of two tributes for her district in the Hunger Games. Broadcasted on televisions everywhere, a girl and boy from each of the twelve districts of Panam fight to the death in an arena until only one remains, as punishment for the districts starting a rebellion 74 years beforehand against the shining Capitol.

To start with, the film got so many small but important things right. In the beginning of the movie, we see the horrible poverty of District 12, the children huddled in the corner, the dusty-faced men marching to descend into the mines. After Katniss and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), the male tribute of District 12, are picked, they are transported into the Capitol, where we see the scenic rivers and gleaming high towers, the huge feasts… the cruel contrast between the wealthy and the starving was done beautifully, just as it should have been. I also really enjoyed how they chose to display Katniss’ first memory of Peeta, as well as what had happened to her father.

One of the most amazing things was that, even though I knew exactly what was going to happen, I was still sitting at the edge of my seat the whole time. When they started the countdown for the beginning of the Games, I felt like my heart was in my mouth, I was so nervous. That might have been the first time in a long while that I ever felt like that watching a movie, and that’s a testament to how well they built everything up for the games.

The one slight problem I had was the scene where the games start. My only issue would be the irritating music while the tributes run out of their starting places, which I equate to the silent forest chase scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, in that both will always bother me. The way they shot the scene was very hard to follow, but it was also artistic and accurately portrayed the pure and total chaos of the scene.

Even though some found fault in her, I thought that Jennifer Lawrence’s portrayal of Katniss was rather well done. It’s a really hard character to portray, what with all of her intricacies, her range of emotions and what she’s forced to go through. But Lawrence managed to do it all really well. I especially liked her final scene with Rue, and I found it heartbreaking to watch it played out.

The main reason that The Hunger Games was so good was because of its near-perfect adaptation. The book has been on USA Today’s bestseller list for the past 134 weeks for a reason. It’s absolutely amazing, and this is the first time I’ve really seen a movie do the book justice. Of course, there are some things in a 374 page book that don’t fit in the 142 minute movie, but when they had to cut something out, they did it with consideration and thought.

Overall Grade: A