BY BLUE KAUFMAN
Wearing “mockingjay” pins and carrying bows and arrows, the massive crowd was literally at the edge of their seats waiting for the theater screen to flicker to life. Everyone began chanting, counting down the seconds to the long awaited midnight premiere of The Hunger Games.
Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games book series has become the next “big thing” for young adult readers and those readers are eager to find out if the highly anticipated film will live up to the hype. Fans have been craving it. Hollywood is betting on it. The question is, did The Hunger Games accurately depict the ambitious story and characters on the big screen?
Despite the hardships that come with condensing a 350-page book into a two hour and twenty minute film, director Gary Ross has filmed a concrete adaptation of the beloved book. The Hunger Games movie not only covers a copious amount of back-story but also offers some entertaining moments for those who are still unfamiliar with the books. It’s overflowing with action and intensity, yet is balanced with stimulating romance. Although the story includes a zesty love triangle, The Hunger Games is about so much more then “what boy will I choose” (take that Twilight fans).
The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where the capitol rules over 12 surrounding districts. To punish the districts for their failed rebellion, the capitol randomly selects 1 boy and 1 girl from each district and forces them to fight to the death, on live television, in front of their friends and family. When twelve-year-old Primrose Everdeen is chosen from district 12, her older sister Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) courageously steps forward to take her place. After her, fellow tribute Peeta Melark (Josh Hutchinson) is chosen and the two embark on a trip to the capitol to face off against the other district tributes until only one victor remains.
Because the movie is told in first person it can’t rely on the heroine’s internal thoughts like in the book. Katniss relies a lot on Lawrence’s performance both physically and mentally. Lawrence delivers excellent acting, and Katniss is one of the few characters in the movie that the audience gets to truly connect with. Obviously, with 24 tributes, not to mention a number of non-game characters, it would be hard to get to know everyone. Still, as a movie, the experience could have benefited from a bit more time spent with a few other tributes. That way, as everyone tries to form alliances or slaughter one another, they’d have more impact then just the immediate onscreen action.
In fact, many of the characters actions are left a bit vague in the film and could cause non-fans to have mixed impressions of them. Peeta’s character, especially, is presented with somewhat muddled motivations. His role in the movie isn’t half as consistent or interesting as it is in the book. Even the mockingjay pin, which has massive importance in the story, is left almost completely undeveloped. These particular story elements (or lack there of) weren’t adapted properly and although Peeta and the pin both get a lot of onscreen time, their roles never come full circle, thus resulting in what could be a confused general audience and frustrated fans.
Overall, The Hunger Games movie has done a solid job establishing major characters as well as preparing for the sequel Catching Fire. Although the film may lack in character development, it makes up for it is captivating fight scenes and heart pounding dramatic moments. Overall, it successfully captures the necessary themes that have enthralled the book’s millions of readers.