Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Odds Are Most Certainly In Their Favor: Our Review of "The Hunger Games" (2012)

Directed By: Gary Ross (Seabiscuit)

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Donald Sutherland

Rating: PG-13 for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images - all involving teens

Synopsis (We're going to let author Suzanne Collins explain): In a not-too-distant future, North America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcast throughout Panem. The 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss' young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district's female representative, Katniss (Lawrence) volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart Peeta (Hutcherson), will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives.


Andrew: Hello readers! So first and foremost, let us apologize for being silent for the past week. As mentioned the other day, we just got back from a weeklong vacation and were unable to see any new films and/or write about them. But we're back, and we're going to be coming with reviews hard and fast from now on starting with.......

The Hunger Games. Adapted from Suzanne Collins' international best-selling novels, this film has been HIGHLY anticipated by both the world and by Two Tickets For. Sarah, did The Hunger Games live up to your expectations?

Sarah: It did! It really lived up to all the hype and pizzazz. I think that this movie was about as close to the book as it could have been. Jennifer Lawrence (Oscar nominee for Winter's Bone) was a spot-on Katniss and the rest of the ensemble cast really brought the story to life. What did you think about it?

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, in the middle of the Hunger Games

A: I thoroughly enjoyed this film. Minus, like, three things that they changed, you're totally right in that this was about as close to a perfect book-to-film adaptation as you can find.

Lawrence is the perfect Katniss - she's tough, arrogant, strong, and smart; but she also exudes the half of Katniss that is loving, caring and vulnerable. Since we've read the books, what we know about her character in the future films makes me believe that when all is said and done, Lawrence's Katniss will go down as one of the most popular and best film characters ever (especially since there's very few female characters of her ilk nowadays).

In regards to the other actors and characters, who in particular stood out to you - whether it was in a good or a bad way?

S: I was actually really surprised with Josh Hutcherson's (The Kids Are All Right) portrayal as Peeta. I actually think the character is a little weak in the stories but I really do think that Hutcherson brought him across beautifully. Elizabeth Banks' Effie Trinket was also a great portrayal, but I would have to say my favorite would Stanley Tucci as the host of The Hunger Games, Caesar Flickerman. His character was so awesome!

Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman, host of The Hunger Games, with Katniss

A: All in all I thought they casted the film perfectly, but if I had to choose one that surprised me the most it was Hutcherson as Peeta. His eyes were so expressive that he didn't need to say a word a lot of times. In fact, one of my favorite scenes is where Peeta and Katniss are talking with each other the night before the Hunger Games start and they sit in silence for a bit, but Hutcherson and Lawrence are such good actors that it spoke volumes. Or right after Peeta and Katniss are selected for the Games and they're being driven away? Hutcherson's on the verge of tears and it killed me.

I did feel that while Woody Harrelson was very good as Haymitch, the mentor to Katniss and Peeta, I also felt that they portrayed him nicer than he is in the book. Or at the very least he came off as more affectionate than in the book. Am I wrong?

S: Yeah really was a great part. And I agree with you that his expressiveness was really good. 

In regards to Harrelson, no, you are not wrong. He should have been so much grouchier. He really is not a likeable character in a lot of ways but they made him loveable in the movie. Also, while I feel that Donald Sutherland was a great choice for the role of President Snow, I wish he was a little less grandfatherly and a little more conniving. I do know that he gets to be a little bigger of a character in the next book so I will hold out for that. 

Now as for the Games themselves, those were done really well! They did a great job of editing down the long bits where Katniss is trying to find water and is just kind of wandering around. They also did a great job of keeping the violence there but without all the blood so as to keep it PG-13.

A: I like your point about the editing out the slow parts, because there definitely were some once the Tributes get into the arena, but I still felt they could have cut some more parts out. Once the film shifted to the actual Games, it slowed down a bit for me. That's really my one big complaint for this film - that the film was better in pace and storytelling before the Games actually began.

Katniss being led to her starting point in the arena just prior to the Games

I did appreciate that the film was relatively brutal in the teenager-on-teenager violence. Because of it's PG-13 rating I was bummed they couldn't show the violence as much as you get the picture in your head when reading the book, but they way they edited the film and insinuated the violence was very good.

Ok, before we wrap up our review (which is a little long, and we apologize), what were your favorite and least favorite parts of this adaptation?

S: My favorite adaptation would have to be the citizens of The Capitol. They looked exactly like I though they would! It looked like so much fun with all of the colors. 

I didn't really have a least favorite adaptation but I will have to say that it bothered me slightly how close to the books this movie was, and I think that points more toward the editing. I would have to agree with you, Andrew, that it was a little slow in parts.

But what about your favorite or least favorite adaptations?

This is exactly how we imagine The Reaping would look like!

A: My favorite part of the adaptation is that the film just LOOKED exactly how I imagined it in my head. The Capitol, Katniss' home of District 12, the arena, everything. Same with most of the costumes, all of it was great.

My least favorite part of the adaptation is something we touched on earlier with Haymitch - that he needed to be tougher on Katniss, along with how little there was of Lenny Kravitz's Cinna. I feel he was more important than they gave him screen time for in this film. I hope they change give him more for Catching Fire. (Editor's note: after a $155 million opening weekend, the only bigger guarantees than Catching Fire being made are death and taxes.)

I also want to note here that I disagree with any reviews I’ve read about how the film doesn’t delve into the disgusting nature of The Capitol rounding up kids from each district and having them kill each other for entertainment. I thought they did a great job showing that, even from the very first scene of the film. But I digress.

Ok! All of that said, what is our final word on The Hunger Games?

S: Oh, well if you want to remain in the loop of life, you must see this one in the theatres!

(Out of Five Clapboards)

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