Thursday, November 21, 2013

Netflix Instant Queue Movie Review: "The Hunger Games" (2012)

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Movie: "The Hunger Games"
Director: Gary Ross
Year: 2012
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 2 hours, 22 minutes

North America as we know it is in shambles, ravaged by civil war for many, many years. The country, known now as Panem, consists of 13 districts that are formed, each known for a specific item which sustains the Capitol, the filthy rich center of the of the nation. The capitol is ruled by the totalitarian leader named President Snow (Donald Sutherland). In an attempt to overthrow the Capitol, District 13 began a sort of uprising during the civil war, known as "The Dark Days." As punishment for the uprising, every year, each district must submit one boy and one girl between the ages of 12-18, selected at random in a ceremony known as The Reaping, to a battle-to-the-death fight between these 24 tributes, known as The Hunger Games. The 74th annual Hunger Games Tribute from District 12 is a young girl named Prim Everdeen (Willow Shields), who is saved from certain death by her older sister, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), who volunteers to take her place. Along with Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), the boy chosen from District 12, they must go through the pageantry the Capitol so desperately wants, as well as go through training with their mentor Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) before fighting for their lives inside the arena.

I read the book for "The Hunger Games" right before the movie came out, and I'm glad I did as it was fresh in my mind. It is a very good and intensely written series, despite it being a young adult book with themes of totalitarian leader-dictated murder of children, poverty, rebellion, and general resentment of rules and government.

With that being said, the movie is also very good, though there are a few things from the book I wish would have made it into the movie. I know there's only a certain amount of time with which to present a film, so it's understandable that everything couldn't make it into the final cut.

On the other hand, BigJ doesn't read, and he still found this film very enjoyable. They cover the story well and you don't need to know the book to enjoy the movie (but it helps).

I had my doubts about Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss prior to reading the book (since I knew the general gist of it and the subsequent description of the character herself), but she knocked it out of the park, in my opinion, and I have grown very fond of her as an actress. Josh Hutcherson, a relatively unknown actor, also did a great job as Peeta. Actually, everyone is perfectly cast, right down to the stone-faced tyrannical President Snow, portrayed by the fabulous Donald Sutherland. The on-screen chemistry of all of the actors in this film worked really well! And, for the most part, the director stayed relatively close to the book and got most of the major details right, as I had imagined them to be. Obviously, in order to get a PG-13 rating, much of the violence is toned down, since it is based on a Young Adult series.

Now, for the one glaring part of the movie we disliked: the awful, awful CGI fire. How is it so bad with a $70 million dollar budget? It just looks slapped together at the last second and thrown on...I can't figure out why it's so fake, but it is, and many parts of the movie revolve around fire, so it's in there a lot. Other than this, the visuals are pretty good.

I'd say this is a very well done film adaptation of the wildly successful book, and we cannot wait to see "Catching Fire."

My Rating: 8.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 8.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 84%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!


  1. I loved this book and had read it quite a while before the movie came along. The book is probably one of my favorites ever, sucked me in and had my gut in knots the whole way through. I was so excited to see the movie and I did like it a lot, but in thinking about it afterwards, the movie made The Games seem too quick and easy. I think they could have done more to build the tension and intensity.

    I didn't like Catching Fire or Mockingjay anywhere near as much as the first book because the story moving more into the whole rebel movement was boring to me. I'm curious if I'll like the movie versions more but will wait for them to come out on dvd.


  2. Very excited to see Catching Fire probably more so than my teenagers.