Like most books created into movies, the books are usually better. The movie version of Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” is in the same category. While people who never read the book enjoyed this action-sci-fi-drama, I was left wanting more.
Set in the future of North America, the United States is gone. There is only a Capitol and 12 Districts. Because of the Districts’ failing attempts to overthrow the Capitol, each District must select a boy and girl (Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” style) to compete in the Hunger Games — a televised fight to the death.
Only one can win.
The nominees’ ages range from 12-to-18; it’s Primrose Everdeen’s (Willow Shields) first year. When her name is surprisingly called, her sister Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence, “X-Men: First Class”) steps up — sprints up, rather — to volunteer.
Having read the book, it was easy to spot the changes in the movie. It’s 2 hours and 22 minutes, so it’s hard to fit in every little piece of information, I get it; however, there were too many slow parts and long shots of facial expressions that could’ve been cut down in order to make up for the loss of the important details that were either substituted or dismissed that essentially make the story.
For instance, the character Madge was not in the movie at all, and the relationships between the characters were not very strong; they felt rushed throughout the movie.
There were some other smaller parts that were changed that could have easily been avoided, but the movie’s story line was overall along the same lines as the book and portrayed the scenes accurately and in a unique fashion.
As for the acting, job well done. It’s not easy showing an excruciating in-pain emotion when not in pain, and Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson (“RV,” “Journey to the Center of the Earth”) as Peeta Mellark, Katniss’ fellow District partner, did a great job. Lawrence also displayed great versatility as she played the role of a terrified and loving, yet sassy and confident older sister. She was very believable.
As for the other well-known names, like Woody Harrelson (“Zombieland”) as Katniss’ and Peeta’s drunken mentor Haymitch Abernathy and singer Lenny Kravitz as Katniss’ clothes designer Cinna, I had my doubts.
Haymitch is supposed to be the fat sarcastic slob that you love to hate, and Harrelson nailed it. Cinna, on the other hand, is the colorful and feminine role that I wasn’t sure Kravitz was going to be able to play, considering his usual afro, tatted and pierced body and tough attitude. Kravitz was the adorable, caring teddy bear you just want to squeeze.
Oh, and don’t forget the unforgettable Stanley Tucci (“Easy A,” “Burlesque”) as the over-the-top white-toothed grin of the host of the Hunger Games, Caesar Flickman. Tucci’s small parts are perhaps some of the funniest, a close tie with the bickering between Haymitch and other mentor Effie Trinkett (Elizabeth Banks, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin”).
For fair warning, the camera work is very similar to “Cloverfield.” The jittery movements are there to make the audience feel like they are in the movie, but it just leaves an uneasy feeling.
Once again, if you read the book, you’ll probably find the book better; but thankfully for the actors, the movie is still entertaining. If you didn’t read the book, you will more than likely enjoy the movie version, but I encourage you to take the time to read the book because it’s gold.