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Films in Cinema Reviews: “The Hunger Games” Movie

Based on the first novel from The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins, this two hour and twenty-two minute film centers on the futuristic dystopian country of Panem and the brutal annual event that it runs to keep their 12 districts in fear of their government. Directed by Gary Ross, droves of teenagers flocked to theaters in mid-March to see how the filmmaker recreated District 12, The Capitol, and its people. The film’s protagonist, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) is a tough sixteen year-old woman who hunts illegally to take care of her mother and twelve year-old sister Prim in a coal-mining town that used to be known as Appalachia in the United States. As punishment to the twelve remaining districts of an original thirteen who revolted against its central government, The Capitol requires twelve to eighteen year-old boys and girls to be sent to compete in a televised battle to the death to humiliate and keep down the populace. Katniss volunteers after Prim is drawn to fight in the 74th year of competition, and is joined by the baker’s son Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) to represent their town. The eleven other districts send the required set of one boy and one girl to the hyper-privileged Capitol, where they are groomed and dressed to look glamorous, interviewed as reality stars, and trained to survive. They enter a massive enclosed arena to survive a harsh environment filled with genetically-altered beasts (“muttations”) and after days or weeks of battle, there is a winner and many dead children.

I first saw the movie on the day of its release, spent the next four days reading the trilogy, and after twenty hours of entertainment I am now sitting here to write about how this is a wonderful film with flaws and an odd future of sequels. To begin, the world and most of its pacing is amazing. One must be in awe of The Capitol and its decadence, while also despising these people, some who are passive and others active participants in ritual murder. Casting was outstanding. Jennifer Lawrence shines the brightest and the players between the “reaping” and the actual games are perfect - Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, and Elizabeth Banks couldn’t have been better choices. In the theater, those who must have read the novels vocally exclaimed when seeing Amandla Stenberg as Rue, the twelve year-old girl who is the height of innocence with tears shed for her later on.

Perhaps the only way to maintain a PG-13 rating was for it hurry through most of the violence within the arena, but it also had an unfortunate affect on the film’s pacing. Though it likely would have been too much for its young audience, The Hunger Games should have lasted an hour longer and explored more of the beautiful and gory moments from the first book. Given Woody Harrelson hinted/said this is a series to be played out over four movies, it may have made more sense if the series was paced as follows:

Movie One: Book one’s beginning until half-way through the battle in the arena.
Movie Two: Conclusion of the 74th annual games, its aftermath, and the announcement of the third Quarter Quell (a themed event to occur every twenty-five years).
Movie Three: The 75th game plus the first third of Mockingjay (book three).
Movie Four: Final two-thirds of Mockingjay.

Given that did not happen, we lost a ton of quality entertainment from the first book and can expect that the three films covering books two and three will be oddly disjointed with one film bound to have a lull in action. Regardless, this movie on its own was fantastic.

Films in Cinema’s Rating of “The Hunger Games”: 8.6/10

Note: Previously published on OppLOL.com on March 28th, 2012. Article has been moved here. Opportunity LOL owns FilmsinCinema.net

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