Reviews & Previews - The Hunger Games

Posted on Monday, April 02, 2012 at 06:00 PM

The Hunger Games


Reviewed by: S. Tran


Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth

Directed by: Gary Ross

Running Time: 142 minutes

Rated: PG-13


Teen on Teen Violence


The Hunger Games is the screen adaptation of the books by Suzanne Collins. The premise of teens fighting each other to the death in a macabre contest has, surprisingly, been done before but none of those films has had this kind of budget. For readers of the book there are elements that surpass the original story while other aspects fall short. The end result is somewhat uneven if enjoyable.


Lawrence stars as Katniss Everdeen, a young girl struggling to survive in a world where outlying districts are beaten down by a dictatorship based in the Capital. Each year the 12 districts are forced to send two children to fight to the death to remind the districts of the price they pay for revolting against the Capital.


With that quick introduction the movie settles in for a slow steady march to the inevitable battle. Along the way we are introduced to Gale (Hemsworth), Katniss’ best friend who dreams of running away from the dreary life in District 12. As the children go to the drawings to see who will be selected we meet Peeta (Hutcherson), who is selected, along with Katniss (who volunteers to save her sister) to represent the district.


It is here where readers of the book may begin to feel some dismay with the movie adaptation depending on how they envisioned Peeta. My opinion is that Hutcherson was severely miscast. He lacks the physicality for us to believe that he is someone who can throw 100 pound bags of flour around. He also lacks the charm and presence that the character in the books possessed to win over the viewing audience. In fact, next to Lawrence I felt like she was babysitting him. Lawrence leaves him far behind in the charisma department but she is also a physically superior force on screen.


The adaptation of the story is fairly faithful to the books which should please fans. But at 142 minutes the movie seemed long to me. Not a good sign when you are trying to craft an action movie. It’s difficult to pinpoint where things went wrong and it may be simply that there was too much to cram into a two hour film. Certainly the book explores themes that are important but I just found that the jump to the screen was missing something. For those who have not read the book this may not be an issue.


The final battles in the movie are good if not compelling. I think the director had a tough task of showing children (some as young as 12) being killed in fairly brutal ways, while maintaining a PG-13 rating so that other children, who were fans of the book could see those kids being killed. A delicate tightrope to walk but handled well overall. We get the effect without the gore (mostly).


The rest of the movie yo-yos between good (Rue) to bad (entrance by chariot). Most of this won’t matter to the legions of fans and the people they drag along with them to see it. Overall it is an entertaining movie that gives an interesting take on the book, but not quite the masterpiece that others have said it was. Without the pre-made audience created by the books I don’t think the film would have been the smash success that it is.



3.5 stars out of 5


S. Tran also writes at, and



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