I am one of the thousands of people who read The Hunger Games and then anxiously awaited its release. Would it be as violent, beautiful and breathtaking as the novel? Would it be worth the months of waiting, the lines of people at midnight showings and the constant Facebook posts that clutter my newsfeed?
Fellow fans, rest assured. The answer is yes.
IThe movie is beautifully shot and fast-paced, which is necessary to keep viewers interested for the full 142 minutes. It gives fans and newcomers alike a great glimpse into the world of Panem, particularly through the visual contrast between District 12 and the Capitol, and especially with Effie Trinket, wonderfully played by a barely recognizable Elizabeth Banks, who clearly does not belong in or understand the poverty-stricken District she represents.
I am not sure how the movie would look to someone who is unfamiliar with the story. Without much background, parts of it might pass by too quickly. There is a brief recap of the concept at the beginning, but it rushes from hunting in District 12 to arriving in the Capitol quite quickly. I was also disappointed that it almost entirely skipped Katniss’s reluctance to believe Peeta is sincere in his love and not just playing the game. Similarly, her feelings for Gale are not as much of an obstacle as in the book, which might pose problems for coming movies. The emotional power of the books is too easily lost in the fighting.
The Hunger Games movie includes some changes to the story – the origin of Katniss’s mockingjay pin, for example – but for the most part, these served to simplify an already long movie. Viewers get a glimpse in the world author Suzanne Collins, who also co-wrote the screenplay, meant Panem to be.
The movie shows us much more of Panem than just Katniss’s point of view. Though it does certainly rely on her perspective (just watch her hallucinating after the trackerjack attack and you’ll see what I mean), it also lets viewers into the other characters’ worlds – Haymitch negotiating with sponsors, Gale watching at home and District 11’s distress when Rue dies.
Donald Sutherland’s President Snow is oddly hilarious for such a dark character, garnering as many laughs as Stanley Tucci’s Caesar and Woody Harrelson’s Haymitch in the screening. In general, cast is fantastic and everyone fits their roles quite well, with the exception of Lenny Kravitz as Cinna.
Despite the flaws the movie has, it is still a great supplement to the first book of the series and, with such a great cast, excellent set and intense storyline, The Hunger Games is bound to entertain. (Also, if you're wondering, Jennifer Lawrence really does pull off the fire suit).
Final Grade: B+
For more on The Hunger Games, check out our Q&A with Josh Hutcherson, Isabelle Fuhrman and Jacqueline Emerson.