Excitement has been building for the release of “The Hunger Games” since plans for the film adaptation of the novel were announced in early 2009.
The resulting film has not only established the beginning of Hollywood’s next big movie franchise, but also lived up to, and possibly even exceeded, all the hype surrounding it.
“The Hunger Games” began in 2008 as the first book of the best-selling trilogy written by Suzanne Collins.
The novel contains plenty of action scenes and deals with many major themes like identity, love, sacrifice, death and governmental struggle.
Many fans were concerned that director Gary Ross would not be able to fully translate all of the complex aspects of the series into film.
However, Ross succeeded in keeping the film exceptionally faithful to the novel.
The film was still able to be very enjoyable and impressive at the same time.
“The Hunger Games” series is set in the post-apocalyptic, dystopian country of Panem, which is made up of 12 districts including a wealthy capitol.
As punishment for a past rebellion, the capitol conducts an annual televised event known as the “Hunger Games.”
Two teenagers, one boy and one girl, are randomly selected from each of the 12 districts to be placed in a capitol-controlled arena where they fight to the death until one winner remains.
The 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence, volunteers as the female “tribute” for the impoverished District 12 after her 12-year-old sister’s name is randomly selected.
The film truly shines in all of the most important aspects of the novel, and even features additional scenes that actually work in its favor.
The desolation and poverty of the districts in comparison to the luxuriousness of the capitol is captured very well, both visually and emotionally.
The districts’ inhabitants are controlled by the totalitarian rule of the capitol, and this oppression is conveyed in the two entirely different ways that the Hunger Games are viewed by the two groups.
This aspect of the story is the most hard-hitting, as it is an allegory for the era of reality television where our society currently resides.
To keep a PG-13 rating, one thing that does not stay true to the novel is the amount of visible violence and gore in the arena scenes.
However, the lack of violence is not enough of an annoyance to steer the audience away from the action and emotion of the scenes themselves.
The majority of the actors deliver excellent performances throughout the film.
Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz all effectively capture the most important traits of their characters Peeta, Effie, Haymitch and Cinna, respectively.
The most impressive performances are given by Lawrence as Katniss, and Stanley Tucci as the Hunger Games’ commentator and interviewer, Caesar Flickerman.
Both actors play their roles perfectly.
Tucci depicts Caesar as the unusually upbeat television personality, while Lawrence succeeds in capturing all of the most vital attributes of Katniss’ character.
She manages to showcase her fierce courage and toughness in the arena, while still revealing her fearfulness when it comes to the safety of those she loves.
Overall, “The Hunger Games” is a top-notch film full of action, emotion, suspense and even social commentary.
Most fans of the novel will not be disappointed, and those who have not read them will definitely want to after seeing the film.
The second film in the franchise, “Catching Fire,” is set for release Nov. 22, 2013.
Danielle Navarro can be reached at email@example.com.