Spoiler alert: The following review will give away parts of The Hunger Games book and movie. Do not proceed if you wish to be surprised.
It’s rare these days to see a movie where the story is more important than the action.
“The Hunger Games” film adaptation did just that and still received an 8 out of 10 rating from over 20-thousand registered IMDb user votes. It also broke a box-office record, garnering the most opening- weekend ticket sales ($155 million) of a spring release, according to a New York Times article.
The film, which released March 23, 2012, is based on the first book of “The Hunger Games” trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Dystopian in theme, the first part of “The Hunger Games” is the story of one young woman’s incidental quest to survive an annual
Capitol “celebration.” Each year, the wealthy metropolis hosts the Hunger Games, in which two young people from each of the 12 surrounding— and nearly all impoverished— districts are chosen as Tributes who must fight to the death until only one remains standing. This year’s Hunger Games has two victors, resulting in a slap-in-the-face to the control- gripping Capitol.
For those who criticize “The Hunger Games” for plot morbidity and graphic violence, it is important to note the film and book’s redemptive qualities. For one, there are numerous occasions of self- sacrifice: Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) for Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), Katniss for Peeta, Katniss for Primrose (Willow Shields), and the list goes on. Christian film critics often see scenes like these as exhibiting the same sort of love Christ demonstrated on the cross.
There is also an underlying anti-materialism message. The disgust for greed and gluttony is introduced in part one, but grows more in book two, Catching Fire, when Katniss learns Capitol civilians take substances to throw up in order that they might eat more, all the while she has been forced to illegally hunt for food in the woods so her family can scarcely survive.
The filmmakers, too, opted to gloss over the violent scenes by utilizing a hand-held camera. For some, the shaky effect from this technique may have harmed their brain worse than blood-and-guts.
The casting in this film was not perfect, but it was fairly close to the book’s character portrayal. Of course, Jennifer Lawrence, who played the leading-role Katniss Everdeen, has received many positive remarks for her portrayal of the strong, yet fearful, female hunter. The director (Gary Ross) said at a press junket, “SheembodiedeverythingKatnissis.”
Other standouts were supporting actors Woody Harrelson (Haymitch Abernathy) and Amanda Stenberg (Rue).
A downside to the film is that it is scarily possible that it could turn into another Twilight saga, where the lead female protagonist is torn between two possible lovers. Many times during the actual Hunger Games, filmmakers gave glimpses of Katniss’ “back-home boyfriend,” Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth). This did not happen in the book, rather it was up to the reader’s imagination to wonder what Gale must have been thinking about the kisses shared between Katniss and Peeta.
Even though the movie ran a whopping total of 142 minutes, it still couldn’t handle much of the book’s detail, such as: Katniss’ wooded- encounter with the Avox girl, her friendship with the mayor’s daughter and her constant marveling over the Capitol’s food.
If profit can be any indication of what makes a good movie, “The Hunger Games” did not do too shabby, rolling in over $110 million nationally and internationally, surpassing their estimated $100 million budget on opening weekend. Still, the most delightful takeaway from this film is that the story was not lost in translation from book to Blockbuster.