Based on the novel by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games marks the tenth anniversary of its theatrical release in 2012.
It’s hard to believe how much dystopian young adult novels/movies dominated the conversation over a decade ago. Nowadays, not so much or at least it certainly seems this way. While The Hunger Games ultimately gets to finish, we cannot say the same about a franchise like Divergent. It’s a shame because Divergent should have been every bit as thrilling of a film series as this one. As we now know, comic book films took over at the box office. Everything else is basically left in their wake.
The 12-district Panem, formerly North America, is now ruled over by President Snow and the Capitol. To keep the peace, every district sends both a teenage male and female representative–Tributes–to compete in the annual Hunger Games. Only one of the 24 tributes can survive. Sadly, this is the only way to keep the peace between the districts. Some of these tributes have been training for this for their entire lives. In the case of Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), all she has is her skills and knowledge from mentor Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson). Katness, who is volunteering in place of sister Primrose (Willow Shields), represents District 12 alongside Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson).
Once they enter the arena, it’s everyone fending for themselves. Sure, the tributes will form allies with other tributes. But at one point or another, they are going to have to kill them. It’s why the ending of this game in particular is so genius. It’s better to have a tie than watch Katniss and Peeta kill themselves on national television. Because of the competition, Katniss now finds herself in a love triangle with both Peeta and childhood friend Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth).
I read the books back in summer 2011 shortly after Jennifer Lawrence was cast in the film. I zipped through the books and read one a week. It’s been a long time since reading the books but I feel that Jennifer Lawrence truly embodies everything that Katniss Everdeen represents.
The Hunger Games is every bit as thrilling as its source material even if it does make some changes from the book. Whenever it comes to books being adapted into film, there’s bound to be things that make readers unhappy. But all things considered, some of the changes make for stronger storytelling. Take the Mockingjay pin, for example. Katniss receives it from Primrose in the film but in the book, it’s a gift from the mayor’s daughter. Unlike the book, the mayor and his daughter have basically no presence, if any, in the film. Overall, it’s a change that doesn’t take away from what we love about the books.
Not many authors have as much say in the film as Collins does. Working with Gary Ross and Billy Ray, the author gives gamemaker Seneca Crane more screen time. Not only this but we get to see a better idea of his relationship with President Snow, too. This is one of those changes that ultimately manages to work in the end.
In terms of the production design, it’s amazing how North Carolina represents so much of Panem. Whether it is the games, the Capitol, or other districts, you can find it all in the state. Moving over to costumes, every district has their own unique look that sets them apart from other districts.
The Hunger Games is a dark film because it has to be. I mean, this is a world where children kill children in order to keep the peace. There’s a reason why the books are in the young adult genre! Hell, the film is has a PG-13 rating, hardly a children’s movie!
DIRECTOR: Gary Ross
SCREENWRITERS: Gary Ross and Suzanne Collins and Billy Ray
CAST: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, with Stanley Tucci and Donald Sutherland
Lionsgate released The Hunger Games in theaters on March 23, 2012. Grade: 4/5
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