It’s out on DVD – so we asked Ryan Andrews to take another look at The Hunger Games.
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“I must admit from the beginning I was weary of The Hunger Games movie. As a big fan of the books, I was more than a little bit apprehensive of what Gary Ross would do to the story line. However, after seeing the film, all my doubts disappeared. Gary Ross does an almost perfect job at bringing Suzanne Collins novel to life on the screen. While some aspects of the book have been changed and some have been taken out all-together, the over-all spectacle of The Hunger Games is simply breath taking.
The overall concept of the story is unique and quite thrilling. 1 boy and girl aged between 12 and 18 are chosen from each of the 12 districts of the country which was once North America. The 24 chosen tributes are trained for combat and then thrown into a public arena where the whole country will watch them kill each other in a televised fight to the death. The bloody slaughter goes on until only one tribute is left standing and crowned as the victor. If the story was based around 24 adults fighting to the death, I don’t think the impact would have been the same. By using children to fight to the death, it gives off stronger messages about how far the Capitol is willing to go to keep their country under their thumb.
Jenifer Lawrence performs amazingly as Katniss Everdeen. It is almost as if the character has jumped straight from the books and onto the screen. While she is moody and sullen throughout most of the film, you can see the emotions in her eyes and the lengths to which she will go in order to protect the people she loves from the Reaping at the beginning, right to the very end of the film. Josh Hutcherson also does a fantastic job at bringing his character to life. Like Jenifer Lawrence, he is able to make it seem like Peeta Mellark has come right out of the book and onto the screen, from the beginning to the end, their performances are as close to perfect as an adaptation can be. Woody Harrelson plays Haymitch Abernathy, the drunken mentor and the only surviving previous victor from District 12. His performance as the surly and unpleasant mentor to Katniss and Peeta is brilliant, his sarcastic comments and jokes are well timed and well delivered. But the moments when his performance really shines are the times when he is genuinely trying to help the tributes in his care and when he actually shows his emotions instead of blotting out the world with alcohol.
The sets for The Hunger Games are simply amazing. The bleakness of District 12 gives the impression of hopelessness from the very moment you see it. The Capitol however, is the exact opposite. Ever shot of the capitol gives of the impression of power and money, but most of all it gives off the feel of control. But a further contrast from both of these settings is the Arena itself. The wide forests and the open grassy planes give off the impression of freedom, although we know that the only way out of the arena is either as the victor or in a coffin. The only time the arena actually feels like a cage during the actual games is in the night time shots, when the images of the dead tributes are projected into the sky. It’s only then we see the force field that covers the arena and prevents any escape from the games and the Capitol’s control.
From the Reaping at the beginning of the movie, The Hunger Games is an emotional roller-coaster. Jenifer Lawrence is able to perfectly show the feelings of Katniss Everdeen, almost effortlessly. However, it is not only Miss Lawrence that is able to do this. Josh Hutcherson also shows the feelings of Peeta Mellark with outstanding skill. But it is also the scenes which were added into the film that deliver a lot of impact throughout the film. The addition of the control room scenes, in which we see how the Gamemakers control the Arena and the hidden traps show just how detached the Capitol actually is from the games and how they only see the annual slaughter of 24 children as entertainment. But one of the added scenes sticks out most to me. It is the scene in which Haymitch simply watches a Capitol family before the games begin. This scene shows just how much the districts hate the Capitol and just how disempowered the districts feel.
So after reading the trilogy, the wait for the movie was tormenting with the build-up of doubts against the film, but also the excitement of seeing one of my favourite series come to life was almost painful. But after seeing the film twice in the cinema, I could not wait for the DVD to be released only a few months later, and as soon as it was released I had to buy the special edition of. I have to admit I have not looked forward to sequels this much since The Avengers and The Dark Knight. The Hunger Games is a breath taking show of emotion, action and has powerful political messages. The trilogy quickly made it into my favourite books of all time and the film is no different in my opinion, because of this I could not recommend the film or the books any higher. I urge you to see the film and read the books if you haven’t already."
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