Saturday, 7 April 2012

Film Review: The Hunger Games

Film Review- The Hunger Games

To summarise the plot: The Hunger Games is set in a world where the ruling Capitol forces the twelve districts, survivors of a war in which they rebelled against the Capitol and were defeated, to volunteer two Tributes to participate in an annual event known as the Hunger Games. In these games, there is only one rule: kill or be killed. Sixteen-year-old Katniss volunteers to take her sister’s place in the Games, knowing that she has little chance of making it out alive…

Let me say from the start that I am a huge fan of these books. I read them last summer, on the recommendation of a friend, and loved them. By turns thrilling and heartbreaking, they held me in their grip for days. When I heard that the author, Suzanne Collins, was to be involved heavily in the films, I was relieved; if there’s one thing I can’t forgive, it’s a film adaptation of a book that completely butchers the plot (Eragon being the first example to come to mind…) My hopes rose exponentially after watching the trailer: it takes something exceptional, book or film, to bring me out in goosebumps. But The Hunger Games surpassed all my expectations.

From the outset, I was glued to the screen. The build-up to the games kept the tension trembling at breaking point, and from the moment Katniss and the others entered the arena, the action kept going till the end. The books are written in first person, which would be difficult to adapt for the screen without giving over a lot of time over to monologue, but the film avoided this by having other characters explain things about their world which were vital to the plot, but not in a way that drew away from the action. Even in the build-up to the games, which could have easily lost the audience’s attention, suspense was kept at a high through the underlying threat that death awaited most of the participants in the near future. As the Tributes were prepared for the games, paraded around in a way reminiscent of shows like the X-Factor, it was easy to see the parallels with modern reality TV. Even without hearing Katniss’s thoughts, the audience could experience her feeling of being watched throughout the film.

The casting was, in my view, perfect; the characters were more or less exactly as I had imagined them whilst reading the book. The performances of Lawrence as Katniss and Hutchinson as Peeta were flawless; their unfolding romance was believable and touching without being overly sentimental- unsurprising, given the circumstances! Haymitch and Effie added some great comic moments to scenes that could otherwise have been bleak. I thought the death scenes were very well done, and the scene between Peeta and Katniss in the cave was one that was particularly poignant. In every scene, the brilliant soundtrack fitted the atmosphere of the book perfectly.

Without a doubt one of the best films- and best book adaptations- I have ever seen, The Hunger Games was fantastic. I am eagerly anticipating the next film, Catching Fire- my favourite of the books- and I hope that this, too, will live up to its source.

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