[Review] The Hunger Games

Everything will be under the cut because there are spoilers ahead. If you’re familiar with the story then read on ahead. If you’re not and you would rather not be surprised, then stop and wait another 48 hours till the movie is released. Otherwise, head on! Note: I haven’t read the book but I have spoiled myself, so I know some plot points.

The Hunger Games is quite similar to the Japanese novel, Battle Royale, in the sense you send a bunch of kids against each other and you tell them only one can be the winner. The kids will have to kill each other in order to survive. What usually stands out is that the people involved are very naive and young. Innocent, even.

But that’s where the similarity between the Hunger Games and Battle Royale ends.

In the Hunger Games, based on the novel of the same name by Suzanne Collins, the battle is turned into a reality TV show. Every year, a pair of “tributes” are offered from the 13 districts that surround Capitol, to the Hunger Games. These “tributes” are demanded as the price of “peace” from the Capitol, as a way to remind these districts not to rebel against them again.

So in the 74th Edition of the Hunger Games, the protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, volunteers to take the place of her sister, Primrose, who had been chosen as tribute. We then follow Katniss into the glitzy, almost unbelievable world of the Capitol, where presumably the rich live in an excessively luxurious and wasteful style. The contrast between Capitol and the outlying districts of 10-12 is incredible.

In the end, Katniss and the male tribute from her district, Peeta, survive. They were seen to be lovers, even though they were not. Both played such roles in order to survive.

The premise is fantastic. I’m usually sold by female characters who kick ass and who don’t need to be rescued. In fact, Katniss does most of the rescuing in the movie. She comes across as a shrewd young woman who may be lost at first but learns quickly. In this, Jennifer Lawrence played her quite well. I was rooting for Katniss from the moment the movie began.

Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, and Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy were superb as the supporting cast. Really though, the movie’s all Katniss, and I’m quite happy with it.

However, what I felt was lacking in the movie was depth. I expected a far more richer environment and subtle touches in the Hunger Games than I was given, and it wasn’t fulfilled. It felt like I was reading a general, light, before-bedtime kind of book and movie instead of the lush world the hype made out to be. The first half of the movie did a fantastic job of setting the scene and the premise; however, the second half of the movie hints only at what is to come, and it’s a very shallow kind of hint.

Overall, I would rate the Hunger Games a 3 out of 5. It’s visually stunning, has a captivating storyline and a truly, excellent, and solid cast. However, it fails on the depth and social commentary sections, both of which could have been alluded to or explored better. On a good note though, this has made me want to read the actual books, to see what I missed. Therefore, 3 out of 5.

2 Responses

  1. Ai March 22, 2012 / 2:25 AM

    You definitely missed out by not reading the books first! Movies are usually a lot less interesting than the books themselves. I haven’t seen many exceptions to the rule.

    • Naoko Kensaku March 22, 2012 / 10:36 PM

      Nah, I try not to read books if I know the movie’s coming out. That helps me keep the disappointment to a minimum.

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