Movie Review – The Hunger Games
Hey movie fans! Wilson Ng, an avid movie goer who loves sharing his passion for the big screen, brings us this review of the latest blockbuster to hit the screens. Enjoy!
After a certain boy-wizard franchise bade goodbye to audiences in 2011 – and with a teenage vampire series coming to an end this year – the world needs another young adult phenomenon to sweep the screens.
The answer? The Hunger Games trilogy – a bestselling series by author Suzanne Collins centering on heroine Katniss Everdeen and her fight against oppressive rule.
The story is set in the not too distant future, in the city of Panem (previously North America). Made up of 12 districts governed by a totalitarian Capitol, Panem is the result of a bitter uprising that angered the Government.
To punish the citizens for the rebellion, it was decreed that each year a boy and a girl aged between 12 to 18 would be randomly chosen from each district to take part in a televised show where the 24 contestants have to battle to the death.
The winner? The sole boy or girl to survive the game!
From one of the poorest districts emerge female Tribute Katniss (class-act Jennifer Lawrence), who bravely volunteers to replace her little sister when her name is chosen from the lot, and her male counterpart, Tribute Peeta Mellark (rising star Josh Hutcherson).
Both Tributes are quickly whisked away to the Capitol for the Hunger Games, its preparation rituals starkly similar to the Olympics, except the game play mirrors that of reality TV show ‘Survivor’ with a dystopian ‘Lord of the Flies‘ twist.
Critically praised for tackling provocative issues in a grim setting, the source novel translates extremely well to the screen, the tight pace keeping audiences on edge as the game progresses.
Fan-boy favourite Jennifer Lawrence – an Oscar Best Actress nominee for the 2010 film ‘Winter’s Bone’ – convincingly portrays Katniss’ initial vulnerability of being included in the deadly games, before transforming into a full-fledged warrior of survival later on.
The supporting cast features a brilliant mix of notable actors, from the one and only Stanley Tucci as gregarious game show host Caesar Flickerman, to the stroke-of-genius casting of scruffy Woody Harrelson as Katniss and Peeta’s drunkard mentor. Elizabeth Banks is a hoot as the prim and proper and outrageously dressed Effie Trinket, while rock singer Lenny Kravitz rounds up the roles as Cinna, Katniss’ warm and trusted designer.
While it’s fortunate to note that the film remains largely faithful to the book in terms of plot (author Collins herself served as executive producer), one of the other issues that worried fans the most was the look of the movie.
It would certainly be a feat to visually bring to life the insanely colourful and opulent dressing of the citizens of the Capitol, as well as the handsome costumes for the Tributes’ opening parade.
But suffice to say, the film – under the confident direction of Gary Ross (2003’s ‘Seabiscuit’) – succeeded in replicating Collins’ vivid vision for the novel, including his deft treatment of the tense countdown to the beginning of the Hunger Games, with the whole nation of Panem watching with bated breath, as with the audiences across cinemas screening the film.
The hint of the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta, and Gale (Katniss’ childhood confidante, portrayed by ‘Thor’ actor Chris Hemsworth’s brother, Liam Hemsworth) might have been too subtle for fans’ liking, but the infatuation between Katniss and Peeta was played up believably during the games, possibly leaving the audience wanting more towards the end of the movie.
Various loose strings towards the end of the movie leave both characters and audience in uncertainty and anticipation, as the events that will unfold in the trilogy’s other two instalments, ‘Catching Fire’ and ‘Mocking Jay’, seem quite promising.
We will just have to wait patiently and hope that the odds will be forever in their favour!