Lionsgate, 2012. Rated PG-13
Synopsis: In the nation of Panem, built on the remains of North America, a shining Capitol keeps the twelve outlying districts in line by asking them to annually offer up one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to be competitors in a pageant known as The Hunger Games. During the Reaping Ceremony during which the competitors (tributes) are chosen at random, Katniss Everdeen volunteers herself to take her sister’s place. She knows that competition in the Hunger Games means certain death for all but the lone victor, but she is determined to win against all odds so that she can return safely home.
Okay, so, I confess: I watched the movie before I read the book and I feel somewhat ashamed about that because I have usually read the book before I see the movie. This gives me a better sense of the story and warrants me a chance to compare the page-to-screen adaptation. And while it took me about three years before I finally got around to reading the book, I can say with satisfaction that the film adaptation maintains the integrity of the best-selling novel. I think it also helped (for me anyway) that Suzanne Collins has a screenplay credit. It’s a little hard to film a movie in first-person, so the screen writers opted for a more omniscient take, cutting between Katniss and the larger whole of Panem in order to better relay certain information to the viewer. I understand why the filmmakers told the story on film the way that they did, but I also found myself seeing a lot more of the behind the scenes workings than I had in the book, namely, the game commentary and the scenes where we see inside the Gamemaking Room. Also, after a while the handheld shots were driving me crazy because I JUST WANTED THE CAMERA TO FOCUS ON SOMETHING and it left me feeling like I was on a Merry-Go-Round rather than watching a movie. I liked Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson in their respective roles as Katniss and Peeta, and the two actors play their characters with a little more of an edge than their book counterparts. I almost wanted Katniss to be a little more serious and Peeta to be a little less stiff, but the performances are definitely genuine and the viewer is really rooting for them to survive. I also loved Lenny Kravitz as Cinna – he was pretty much everything I imagined the character to be when I was reading the book – and Donald Sutherland as President Snow – ominous, mysterious, and the very picture of a silent puppetmaster. An excellent film that stays true to the original, fans of the books will be left wanting more and waiting for the next ‘chapter’ to begin.