Age Rating (UK/US): 12A / PG-13
For a new section of my site, I am going to be reviewing film and TV adaptations of books, starting with the first in The Hunger Games Trilogy, of which I have also reviewed the books.
Here’s the trailer:
The plot of the movie is actually very accurate in following the story line of the novel, Katniss Everdeen is a young teenage girl living in a post-apocalyptic land called Panem in what was formerly North America (the exact cause of the apocalypse isn’t mentioned). Panem is divided into 12 districts and has a central Capitol.
Katniss lives in District 12 which is the poorest of the 12 districts and mainly mines minerals for Panem. Her father died in a tragic mine collapse.
74 years ago, the various districts rose up in revolt but were crushed. As a result, each year the districts have to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in The Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death between the twelve districts where there is only one victor. Her younger sister is drawn to compete so Katniss takes her place. However, complicating things further is the boy who is chosen, Peeta Mellark.
Peeta, at a time when Katniss was at her most desperate and starving after losing her father, threw her some bread, giving her the will to help her family survive.
In the rest of the film we see Katniss preparing for and competing in The Hunger Games, will she make it out alive and back to her mother and sister?
Overall I really enjoyed this movie adaptation and it is pretty accurate to the book though there are some differences and omissions.
There are some characters missing from the film such as the Mayor’s daughter Madge who doesn’t give Katniss the Mockingjay pin, instead it is Greasy Sae in the market. Katniss then gives the pin to her sister Prim before she is selected to protect her and she in turn gives it back to Katniss when she volunteers.
Also as the book is written from Katniss’s perspective there are certain things that we read in the book as part of her thought processes that in the film this is changed to dialogue. For example, in the book during the Hunger Games when Katniss is cornered up the tree she comes across a Jabberjay nest and knows they are deadly. In the film however, the Hunger Games’ presenter Caesar Flickerman explains this to the viewer.
Also the leader of Panem, President Snow has a much larger part in this film and whereas the fate of Seneca Crane in the books is mentioned at in the second novel, in the film it is shown more clearly when he is locked in a room with poisonous berries at the end. There are also conversations between the two throughout the film and we see Crane in a control room manipulating the events of The Hunger Game.s However, none of these scenes are particularly unwelcome.
I have to give huge praise in the casting of Jennifer Lawrence. This was the first movie I had seen her in when it came out and she is perfectly cast in the part of Katniss and plays both the dramatic and the action scenes brilliantly. Her performance really does drive the film and makes the emotional parts of it really hit home and you do feel as though you are on this journey with here.
The film also has a great supporting cast – both Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson are both handsome and play the romantic leads well. Elizabeth Banks is also fabulous as the eccentric Effie Trinket and Woody Harrelson as the drunkard Haymitch. Donald Sutherland also has a great presence in the film as President Snow even though he is only in the film for a handful of scenes.
I also really liked the overall visual of the film. The film was shot in North Carolina and District 12 looks just as I imagined it – a rundown, dirty back hole in Panem. This is then contrasted first with the Capitol, where all the people are garishly dressed with makeup and strange hair colours. The shots of the Capitol are also great – probably one of my favorites is when the tributes arrive by Chariot into this sort of Colusseum.
The film does raise a lot of the themes of the book whilst also raising some interesting knew ones I think.
The books themes obviously included war, fighting for something or someone you love, living under a dictatorial power, reality TV and how it uses people for entertainment.
I do feel the latter is highlighted even more so in the film, for instance with Seneca Crane in the control room we see him and his staff manipulating the games by starting fires, making it night time etc. There are always reports from various reality TV shows today such as Love Island, The X Factor, American Idol of the producers “fixing” and “Staging” scenes for entertainment but this scenes take it to an extreme and do make a comment I feel on how people in reality TV shows are basically puppets on strings.
There is also a scene in the film not in the book where Haymitch is walking through the Capitol and we see a bookmakers chart with odds for everyone to win, there is also a scene of a little boy and girl play fighting as if they are tributes in the game which is another interesting scene I think to show the disconnect between what people see on screen and in real life – to them the Games are just pure entertainment, whereas for Katniss it literally could mean her life or death.
It is a great film which I would recommend watching.