I know there are hundreds of reviews of The Hunger Games out there, but I’m going to go ahead and add mine to the mix because, why not?
There are some small spoilers in this review if you haven’t read the book/seen the movie yet. Just a warning.
I really enjoyed this movie. It is by far one of the better book to movie adaptations I’ve ever seen. Usually I’m at least a little bit disappointed when a book becomes a movie, but in this case I’m very satisfied. They pulled it off in a way that will both satisfy fans of the book and be enjoyable to those who haven’t read it. Yes, there are scenes I wish hadn’t been cut (aren’t there always?), but I didn’t even realize it until I stopped to think abotu them later.
The screenwriting was also great. They managed to fix one of the major issues with the book – that of Katniss explaining every little thing to the audience. The movie really pulls off the “show don’t tell” adage better than the book. In fact, the screenwriting fixed several of the issues with the book. Katniss is still vulnerable and obviously a kid, but she’s more competent. The behind-the-scenes action at District 11 after Rue’s death definitely set up the idea of Katniss being the figurehead that sparks the rebellion for the later books (even if I did miss the scene where they send her the bread, I understand why they changed it). The only complaint I’d have with all that, really, is that they didn’t show how tenuous her situation was at the end of the movie as well as they did in the book. In the final interviews in the book, you are well aware that one wrong movie could be disastrous for her, but the movie isn’t as intense.
They also pulled off the setting really well. First person narratives are very hard to successfully turn into movies and one that is so internal like Hunger Games presents all kinds of problems. They managed to avoid this by adding in a few external scenes to set up what was going on (again without Katniss having to explain). I loved the ones showing the Gamemakers controlling everything from the computers.
The scenery was amazing. The Capitol, oh my god. When the train pulls around and you get that first look, just, wow. The juxtaposition between the poverty and hardship of District 12 with the opulence of The Capitol was pointed, yet not overly so. You noticed, but it wasn’t shoved down your throat.
I was a bit unsure about some of the casting at first (ahem, Peeta), but within a few minutes they convinced me. Jennifer Lawrence, as always, was great and, despite not being physically matched to the character, Josh Hutcherson really pulled off a convincing Peeta. Stanley Tucci as Cesar Flickerman was perfect. He managed to make Cesar come off as completely clueless about how bad the situation really is and yet still really likeable. I will have to say, though, that Elizabeth Banks and Woody Harrolson were my favorites. Any scene with the two of them together cracked me up.
The only major complaint I have is with the camera work at the beginning of the movie. The first 15 minutes or so it was very shaky and I had to look away a few times to keep from getting a headache. After that they either fixed the issue or I didn’t notice it anymore. Aside from that, the camera work really balanced out the action.
Definitely go see this. It’s an enjoyable movie if you haven’t read the book. If you have, you’ll be able to enjoy it on a deeper level when you see how well they’ve interpreted it.