Release Date: March 23rd, 2012
Studio: Lions Gate Films
Production Budget: 78 Million
Director: Gary Ross
Writers: Suzanne Collins, Billy Ray, Gary Ross
Source Material: Based on the book “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen
Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark
Liam Hemsworth as Gale Hawthorne
Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy
Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinkett
Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman
Lenny Kravitz as Cinna
Wes Bentley as Seneca Crane
Donald Sutherland as President Snow
Music: James Newton Howard
Running Time: 2 hours 22 Minutes
(I could go on but I won’t)
Plot: Every year in the ruins of what was once North America now called Panem, 12 districts… blah blah blah. Kids 12 – 18 kill each other in an annual tournament because the government says they have to. 16 year old Katniss Everdeen volunteers to be picked in order to save her sister. I’m sure most of you who care know the plot already.
Bias: Having read the book a year ago, I am more likely to fill in plot holes and character development mentally.
Review: When this movie was announced I expected it to be down the line studio filmmaking at its most mediocre like many lesser book adaptations, but came out quite impressed with how the film turned out. This movie stands on its own so you don’t get any of that “Well it makes sense if you’ve read the book“. As far as the adaptation goes this movie maintains every major plot point from the book without much change. The movie is limited by its format running time pushing everything in at a faster than preferred pace, but takes advantage of the third person narrative showing a few welcome and crucial scenes. Reactions outside the arena from the nation’s districts, Katniss’ hometown, and one on one’s between Head Game Maker Seneca Crane and President Snow offer better and less obvious character development than the book.
The acting in the film is strong all across the board. Obviously the major role of Katniss Everdeen carries the film and Jennifer Lawrence who though seems just a tiny bit too old to play sixteen humanizes the strong female protagonist very well. Small roles like Effie Trinkett, Cinna, Haymitch and Gale (a major character later in the series) are played really well and put to good use. Though my favourite had to be Stanley Tucci in the fun role of Caesar Flickerman. I thought Game Maker Seneca Crane is set up better here as the main antagonist than in the book and looks cool. Josh Hutcherson (who like Lawrence is also a fan of the series) is the only one I would have a complaint about, as he is less charming here than depicted in the book (“Hey Katniss, how about that kiss?”). My guess is that he either played to his limitations, was cut from much of the film, or it was decided he was to be taken more seriously as a love interest, but this might make him lack as a strong alternative later in the series. Which could get interesting.
Minor criticisms I would make are that the adaptation should have been even more bold venturing outside its faithful route (The character of Foxface though necessary in the novel is a fun distraction that doesn’t add a whole lot to the film). The climax of the film lacks a truly strong payoff that the book had but also trades that in for planting the seeds for a series. There is nothing truly remarkable or stand out about this film that led me to think much about it afterwards, other than the fan fervor of counting the proceeds of its success. Many complaints of the film stem from the use of shaky cam. Though the film could use more wide shots, as it is beautifully filmed, I find it actually adds to the frenetic pacing of being in the arena, and is not as annoying or overused as in othe suchr films as “The Bourne Ultimatum”. It also should be known that this was one of the tactics employed by the producers to cut the film for a PG-13 rating, both to exercise more money and stay true to the authour’s request. The rating is really played to the edge as it is still very bloody so I actually applaud the studio for maintaining the books vision as well as being consistent and not limited by its rating.
In my opinion I thought the themes left unexplored in the novel aside from; Personal Independence and Satirization of the Media especially Reality Television, were hinted at but unused to their full extent, which would highly elevate the material. This includes comparisons to the Holy Roman Empire and French Revolution, Poverty, Class Warfare, Governnent Opression, “Big Brother” a la George Orwell (though that’s pretty overdone nowadays). The bright side is that there is plenty of this to play around with in the series’ future.
Bottom line This is a very strong solid film with great execution that is worth seeing in theatres, and deserves the praise its getting. The groundwork is strong for a series and it overall is a very good time. It’s just not the R-rated magnum opus I would have it be having taken more risks.
Ridiculous comparisons: Better than “John Carter”, “X-Men”, “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” and “Mission: Impossible III”. On par with “21 Jump Street”, “50/50”, “Inception” and “Spider-Man”. Not as good as “Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring”, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”, or “Batman Begins”.
Overall Grade: B+
I also created my own ingenious rating scale for movies and games ranging from -3 to +3. For this movie I would assign a +2.
-3 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 +3
Danny Elfman (The Simpson’s Theme, Spider-Man series, Men In Black Tim Burton and The crappy Batman movies) was originally hired to do the score and would’ve done a great job but dropped out due to a scheduling conflict, but Fuck him as he was replaced by the much harder working James Newton Howard (King Kong, The Fugitive, My Best Friend’s Wedding, The better Batman movies) whose also been nominated for more oscars 9-4.
People who would were considered for Katniss Everdeen (Chloe Grace Moretz, Saoirse Ronan, Emily Browning, Emma Roberts, and Hailee Steinfeld).
Alex Pettyfer and Alexander Ludwig were considered for the role of Peeta. They told Pettyfer to go fuck himself (read: not really) and gave Ludwig the role of Cato (don’t him and Peeta look alike?).
This movie broke the advanced day-one ticket sales record previously held by: Twilight Saga: Eclipse.
This movie opened to 155 million. Initial Analysis suggests a lower dropoff rate than Twilight or Harry Potter series due to higher crossover appeal critically commercially, and among genders.
Simon Beaufoy who wrote Slumdog Millionaire is assigned to write the script for the sequel Catching Fire due out November 22nd, 2013.
Lionsgate unfortunately has the rights to four films rather than the trilogy’s 3. No I do not think it’s a mythology so expansive that warrants a part one and two.
Between this movie starring Liam Hemsworth, his older brother Chris was in almost all the the movie previews; Cabin in the Woods, The Avengers, Snow White and the Huntsman. Their parents must be proud.
This movie was alot better than I was expecting.