Movie Review: The Hunger Games Delivers
This review was written by Mockingjay.net staffer Beth Dinkel. It is SPOILER FREE!
After having the privilege of attending the worldwide premiere of The Hunger Games, there are three things I’m absolutely certain of. 1. Panem is hauntingly similar to how I imagined it ought to be. 2. Gary Ross is ten different shades of brilliant. 3. Josh Hutcherson IS Peeta Mellark. If I continue to list everything else the movie does well, we will all run out of time and patience. For the sake of our sanity, I’ll keep this short and sweet.
I went in with high expectations, as I’m sure all fans will. I tried not to, but it’s hard to reel myself in when I have such a strong love for a story. There was a constant fear that The Hunger Games would stop feeling real and turn into the next Twilight. Don’t get me wrong about Twilight. I was a fan when the book first came out, and this is exactly why I was afraid for the sake of The Hunger Games. Most book-to-movie adaptations manage to change the feeling entirely, and you begin to wonder why the movie even has the same title as the book. You find yourself thinking, “This interaction looks fake” or “She never would have worn that much makeup” or “Wait, when did this scene happen?” I didn’t want The Hunger Games to turn into a joke. I didn’t want it to become a movie in which people play drinking games strictly to make fun of it. (I’m guilty of this with Twilight. Take a drink every time Edward Cullen looks constipated. In case you’re wondering, that’s a lot!) Needless to say, this isn’t the case.
Jennifer Lawrence leads the cast with a subtle and believable portrayal of our heroine, Katniss Everdeen. Even covered in mud and with no makeup, she’s stunning. Not stunning in a conventional way but stunning to us because she’s our Katniss, and we love her. Josh Hutcherson is the only person on the planet that could’ve made us fall in love with Peeta all over again. He really is as wonderful as everyone says he is, and the thought of anyone else having that role is absurd. Liam Hemsworth as Gale doesn’t make as much of an appearance, but if you’ve read the book, this shouldn’t come as a shock. His story comes more into play in the next installment. However, the few times he is on screen, he’s got the perfect chemistry with Jennifer to be her trusted hunting partner. Gary Ross and Lionsgate couldn’t have picked a better trio to lead the films into a successful run.
The supporting cast is equally important to the story, and no one feels out of place in the whirlwind of characters, both good and evil. Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Stanley Tucci, Wes Bentley, Willow Shields, and every last one of those district tributes nails their respective characters. (***Okay, this next part might be slightly spoiler-ish, but I don’t give any details!) To me, the surprise performance comes from Alexander Ludwig as the villainous Cato. We don’t get to see much from him, but the bits we do see leave me aching for more. Kudos to him for turning someone like Cato into a character you want to love. Kudos to everyone. To Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrelson for bouncing funny words off of each other so effortlessly. To Donald Sutherland for being just as intimidating as President Snow needs to be. To Stanley Tucci for making me wish he actually had his own talk show. To Wes Bentley for that beard (and also because one of his last scenes is so brilliant, and I can’t wait for everyone to see it.) To Willow Shields for breaking my heart in a way only a little sister could. Everyone brings their A-Game, and it shows.
The point is: The Hunger Games works. It feels real. I didn’t walk out of the theater thinking the story was forced or altered in a way to please studio executives or thinking it was a different story entirely. That’s not to say it’s perfect because nothing ever is. Don’t go into the theater thinking, “I can’t wait for THIS scene” because chances are, you’ll be disappointed by the alterations or the omissions altogether. I’m guilty of this. There were certain scenes I couldn’t wait to see on the screen, but as the time for the scenes came and went, I did find myself wishing they were there. My disappointment didn’t last long, and every new scene brought the same sense of excitement I got from turning the pages of the book. As long as you go into it with a full understanding that some details didn’t make the cut, the overall feeling never changes. In the end, the movie delivers, and you won’t spend much time worrying about what’s missing.
Happy Hunger Games, everyone.