The Hunger Games

May 2012 Kirra Rohan

The Hunger Games movie will kick you in the gut. You’ll be crying in the theater – but that’s ok, because so will everyone else. Focused on Katniss Everdeen, the teenage underdog from District 12 who is forced to fight for her life in the brutal Games, this movie is both wildly exhilarating and more than a little draining to watch. Though you’re sitting in a comfortable movie seat, watching this adventure play out on the screen in front of you, director Gary Ross does a fantastic job of drawing you into the messed up, dystopian world of Panem.

The basic story of this book-turned-movie takes place in a dystopian future, where North America has become a country called Panem, ruled by the corrupt iron fist of the Capitol. Once a year, a televised tournament is held – the Hunger Games – wherein each of the twelve districts of Panem send two teenagers to fight to the death. These Games are held to commemorate the unsuccessful rebellion of the Districts that had occurred 74 years prior to the story. When Primrose Everdeen was called to fight, our heroine, Katniss, volunteered to take her place. Joined by her fellow District 12 tribute, Peeta Mellark, and aided by the former District 12 winner Haymitch Abernathy and stylist Cinna, Katniss quickly becomes more than just another tribute – she becomes a figurehead of a growing revolution to overthrow the Capitol.

One of the things that this movie does well is show the differences between the dirty, gritty Districts, and the wealth and decadence in the Capitol and Career Districts. Instead of an overwhelming sense of despair everywhere in this dystopia, there are a group of people – a place wherein life is peachy and watching these children brutally murder each other is considered fun, if not a luxury for the tributes to even be competing in the first place. The costume and makeup departments did an excellent job creating different looks for each of the Districts, and the glam-rock style of the Capitol is my personal favorite in terms of pure creativity. From bright pink hair to an intricately styled beard, Capitol citizens have their own couture that cannot be mistaken for anyone else’s.

Though some complain that the movie did not go in-depth enough on certain aspects of character development – e.g. Katniss and Peeta’s romance, the characterizations of the other tributes, etc – you must keep in mind that Ross had already shot a movie that was 2hr 22min long; there was simply not enough time in the movie for him to completely dive into the characterizations of every person in the film, and thus wisely chose to focus on those characters whom would be needed to set up the remaining three movies (based on The Hunger Games trilogy).

Now, the novel had the advantage of being written to where the reader was able to see everything that Katniss was seeing, and know everything that she was thinking. As this is nigh impossible when directing a third-person film, Ross had to make a few stylistic decisions on how he was going to tackle this challenge. In what I believe to be the best decision made during the making of this movie, Ross decided to cut away from Katniss a few times in order to focus on President Snow, Haymitch, or another important character. These scenes were not present in the book, but their addition in the movie allowed for important background to be given while Katniss was stuck in the world of the Games.

And finally, the casting director made several amazing calls. Certainly the movie would not have had as many laughs if not for Elizabeth Bank’s portrayal of the bubbly, and rather naïve Effie Trinket – her shout of “That is mahogany!” will be remembered even after many of the other lines from the film are forgotten. And let us not forget Wes Bentley, who managed to perfectly illustrate the struggles that Seneca Crane was facing as Head Gamemaker – to keep the games interesting while avoiding a rebellion. Most importantly, Jennifer Lawrence completely embodies everything that I had ever imagined Katniss to be – strong, independent, and determined, yet not socially adept. Though to save space I’m only mentioning these three by name, each and every character in this movie was portrayed superbly by the actor, including the quirky extras and the unnamed tributes.

To wrap it up, The Hunger Games is one of the must-see movies of 2012, if not of all time. With a social undertone that directly relates to our currently life, this movie is much more than just an image on a screen.