The Hunger Games Delights But Also Confuses Viewers
The anticipation for The Hunger Games was out of this world; people lined up for hours and even days to be a part of the phenomenon. The movie adaption is based on the series of books by Suzanne Collins. The film, starring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, and Liam Hemsworth, takes place post–apocalypse in the country of Panem which consists of a luxurious Capitol and twelve surrounding impoverished Districts. Following a rebellion that resulted in the District 13 getting destroyed, each District must send a boy and a girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to the annual Hunger Games in which the 24 tributes must fight to the death. The movie follows Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) from District 12 as she volunteers to take her younger sister’s place in the Games.
Amandla Stenberg, Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, and Stanley Tucci are all able to connect with their characters. Stenberg, who plays Rue, effectively showcases her character’s intelligence and independence. Harrelson successfully displays Haymitch’s drunken exterior as well as his hidden sweet side. Kravitz is able to demonstrate Cinna’s concerned and helpful personality. Tucci perfectly blends Caesar’s two roles as humorous entertainer and broadcaster of vital information about the Hunger Games to the public. These characters work together to create some of the best moments in the movie.
Unlike the book, the movie shows the Gamemakers sitting in a control room, deciding the challenges that the tributes must face in the Hunger Games arena. Seeing the Gamemakers playing God by making every decision concerning the tributes adds to the excitement of the film.
One of the film’s greatest faults is the choice of actors for some of the lead roles. I pictured Katniss (Lawrence) as a brave, guarded, and smart young woman who had lived a long time without enough food. However, Lawrence does a poor job of portraying a girl who has lost her father at a young age and hunted everyday just to put food on her family’s table. Additionally, Gale (Hemsworth) is more of a background character than he was in the books, and does not play a large enough part in Katniss’ life.
The movie lacks a clear background and overall continuity. It gives no background information on any of the characters, making it difficult for those who haven’t read the books to understand their actions. Gale (Hemsworth) is depicted simply as Katniss’ childhood friend, but the filmmakers show his face multiple times while she is in the Games. It is unclear why the audience should care about his reaction to what Katniss is experiencing. Moreover, the movie does not clearly convey how bad the conditions in the Districts are, which is an important component of the story. It does not correctly portray the conditions of life in the Districts or the way that the Districts’ citizens are abused by the Capitol. The Capitol uses the Games to make it clear that they have complete control over the districts and that no one can ever rebel again. Overall, the film does not show enough of the ugly side of life in Panem.
There is also an inconsistency in the details of the film, including characters’ nicknames. There were no reasons given for why Gale called Katniss “Katnip” or why Peeta (Hutcherson) and Katniss called the girl tribute from District Five “Foxface.” In addition, some people from the Capitol have accents while others, like Cinna (Kravitz) don’t.
In conclusion, The Hunger Games is a decent film adaption of the book, but is also very confusing for members of the audience who haven’t read the book before. I strongly recommend reading the book prior to watching the movie so that it will be easier to understand the plot and characters.