A child crawls out of the forest, looking for help that will never come. Instead he is skewered and beaten to death. Because he didn’t have the conch. Yep, that’s how Lord of the Flies worked. Ok, so maybe not, but this was still a rather gruesome thing to read even as a high schooler. The Hunger Games had a similar plight in word form as barbaric images depicting children/teens murdering others for survival/sport engrossed masses of readers. But how exactly does this translate to screen?
For those who don’t know, The Hunger Games tells the post-apocalyptic story in which the 12 districts must offer up a boy and girl between the ages of 12 and 18 each year as tribute to participate in the games. Games… The Capitol sure knows how to drain the fun out of that word. You see, during these “games” the tributes must fight to the death until there is only one left standing.
Which brings us back to the violence. In order to get around making the murder of teens a grandiose event as it is in the actual world of the novels/movie, fast cutting and shaky camera work gives you sparring glimpses at what is happening (think 127 Hours during the arm cutting scene), allowing you to fill in the gaps as the blood splatters in a pattern not too dissimilar to the bodies strewn about as the games start. Other times it will just be a scream off in the distance, but not everything is so PG. This is still a horrific event, to say the least, and this is not forgotten during many of these moments as a neck is snapped a fraction of a second before the camera turns, or a certain fan favorite falls (all who are worried, this scene does justice to the moment), reminded the audience exactly what they are being entertained by. I just hope no one was cheering for it like those creepy Careers.
Speaking of the fans. My sister mentioned reading somewhere that fans of the books won’t actually like the movie as much as those new to The Hunger Games, but as a fan of the novels I really can’t agree with this claim. Maybe I am simply more forgiving, but the elements changed in someway or completely missing didn’t bother my enjoyment of the adaptation (though there was one thing towards the climax that I wish they had kept because it just furthers the nailing of the coffin of hatred towards the Capitol because of how grotesque it is). If anything, seeing favorite parts of the book on screen, such as when Katniss shows off her skills pre games, completely washes away those moments missed. Not only that, but the design and look of the world, comparing the districts to the capitol, and how the games are actually run were rather spectacular, bringing a lot of credit due to the designers and effects artists connected to the film.
To further my point about being a fan of the books, I honestly believe that having read the books helped supplement my understanding of the movie when things aren’t fully elaborated on, especially when it comes to the “romance.” During the games Peeta and Katniss have some time together in which a slew of feelings, true, false, and all that lies between, are shared. Reading the thoughts of Katniss certainly helped wade through this confusion, but I can say that after a little awkwardness between the two, Jennifer Lawrence really pulled off the “liking him will help me get sympathy from the audience, but he is a good guy so maybe I could feel something or possibly even am feeling something” look with her eyes. Then again, she really pulled off everything, making it completely believable that she could win these games and rally a nation. With that said, I have to say the younger kids really manipulated my emotions with their acting skills. About 20 pages into the book I was already crying, and Willow Shields (playing Primrose, Katniss’s sister) had me tearing up here as well. And don’t even get me started on Amandla Stenberg as Rue.
Whether or not you are already a fan of the books going into the film, I strongly urge you see The Hunger Games. I know, powerful words. But I want the sequels to be made (unlike a certain The Last Airbender. Darn you M. Night!) because the ending has me begging for part 2 of the trilogy. So go see it! Right now!
Final Grade: B Follow @BewareOfTrees