Directed By: Gary Ross
Runtime: 142 minutes
I never did make it to the theaters to see this one, but believe me, I heard all about "The Hunger Games." A few months before the theatrical release, I picked up the novel and gave it a try. The book was interesting and held my attention, just like the film. If you're the kind of person who enjoys a bit of imagination, then sit back and enjoy yourself for this dystopian adventure.
I always cringe when I hear people talk about how much better the book was than the movie. I love writing fiction and I most certainly love watching film, but I respect the two as being completely different art forms. Providing imagery and character development in a book is much different than shooting it for the screen. That being said, I was impressed with this film adaptation. This may have had something to do with Suzanne Collins' co-writing the screenplay - it's always nice to let the author in on the script just to make sure the story runs smoothly. But let's face it, your average novel has around 75,000 words to come up with a story, whereas the film does it in 142 minutes. Some may have considered this length to be too long, while others too short - I think it was appropriate.
"The Hunger Games" is the first installment in the trilogy written by Suzanne Collins. After a long period of war and devastation, the United States has broken up into twelve Districts, with a centerfold of wealth and power situated in the Capitol. Each District is responsible for producing or contributing something to the sustenance of the northern territory. Our focus is directed on District 12, the coal miner's district, where people are overworked, hungry, and don't know the meaning of "the good life," for it's been absent for far too long. One family in particular who has dealt with loss and hardship is the Everdeen family. Katniss, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is older sister to Primrose. Their father having passed away in a mining accident, Katniss has taken over the role as the family protector, taking care of her mother and sister who both appear helpless and scared.
Each year, in order to honor the memory of the war that resulted in this "peaceful" time, one boy and one girl are chosen from each of the twelve Districts to compete in the Hunger Games. The games entail a test of survival as the tributes battle one another in a controlled environment until only one person remains. The Capitol explains that these tributes are a test of honor and sacrifice, but we come to learn that it's more about power and authority, as is the case with most government-type regimes.
So there they are, all the prospective tributes, gathered together in District 12, waiting for the name to be pulled from the bowl. And the name is... Primrose Everdeen. The chance of Katniss' 12-year old sister being picked is slim, but the realization throws her into a panic and Katniss volunteers to take Prim's place as tribute. Shortly thereafter, she is torn away from everything that she knows and is transported to the Capitol, in a world that reminded me of "The Fifth Element" meets "The Running Man." I'll leave the rest of the film for your enjoyment as you weigh the stakes on Katniss Everdeen and her ability to stay alive long enough to maybe win the competition?