The Hunger Games
(As a preface to this post, I’d like to note that while Adam B. expressed an interest in trading my Wednesday posting duties for his Thursday posting duties, I am incredibly disorganized and have not checked my Facebook to see if he has confirmed this switch. As such, I have no idea at the time of writing if he posted anything yesterday or if we left a gaping hole in our admittedly erratic schedule. Hopefully we’re all on the same page and I’m not double-parking Beckmeyer’s post, but if so, se la vie. That’s what I get for living in a technological black hole. On with the post!)
In my last post, I mentioned that I was exceedingly excited to attend the midnight premiere of The Hunger Games last Thursday evening. I’ve been an avid fan of the series ever since I impulse-bought the first book at a Barnes and Noble last year, and when I heard that they were making a film adaptation I was simultaneously ecstatic and apprehensive. With a high-concept, heavily detailed series like The Hunger Games, it would be incredibly easy for a visualization to come out riddled with mistakes and inconsistencies, but on the other hand it would also be fantastically satisfying to see such a vivid world and its wonderful characters brought faithfully to life, and I wasn’t sure which scenario to expect.
The more news that I read and heard about the movie, however, the more excited I was to see the finished product. The director, Gary Ross, emphasized in interview after interview how much he loved the source material and how dedicated he was to creating a film that matched Suzanne Collins’ books exactly. The actors often echoed his sentiment, many of them adding their own reasons for why the books meant so much to them personally. Their devotion to maintaining the spirit and the specifics of the story built up my confidence and my anticipation until I could hardly wait for the premiere to arrive. I went into the movie with enormous expectations, as I’m sure most of Collins’ eager and detail-oriented fanbase did, and at every moment along the way the cast and crew of The Hunger Games met and exceeded them with ease.
As far as casting goes, not only were Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson excellent as protagonists Katniss and Peeta, the supporting cast was also brimming with talented performers, from Woody Harrelson (my personal favorite casting choice as mentor Haymitch Abernathy) and Elizabeth Banks (who embodied the bubbly, frivolous Effie Trinket flawlessly) to Donald Sutherland and Wes Bentley (who stole the show in their scenes together as President Snow and Head Gamemaker Seneca Crane respectively). Every single actor and actress portrayed the characters of The Hunger Games so splendidly that they could have stepped right out of the book and into frame.
Of course, even the best actors sound ridiculous and stilted if the script is poorly written (I’m looking at you, Qui-Gon Jinn), and that’s another aspect in which The Hunger Games excels. Not only did the writers stay true to the themes of the tale, they held tightly to nearly every detail of both the events of the narrative and the characters’ motivations and reactions. The costumes, scenery, and props in the movie all adhere to the same level of intricate accuracy, from the garish opulence of the Capitol to the dark and treacherous confines of the Arena. Put all of those ingredients together, and you have what is in my opinion the best adaptation of a book for the screen ever made. As my brother Andrew put it when we left the theater, “I feel like I just read the book again!”
If you haven’t read the books, I implore you to read the first installment of the series before you go see The Hunger Games. It’s a great book, and you’ll be able to appreciate all of the things that the movie does right even more once you’ve read the original story. If you just can’t wait that long to see it, though, then by all means get out there and see it. While the premise of the story is a dark one and the Games themselves are a violent affair, Ross’ decision to stay within the confines of a PG-13 rating ensures that the blood and gore are at a minimum and the focus of the movie stays where it belongs: on the characters and their story. I highly recommend The Hunger Games to anyone who likes good things. If that doesn’t describe you, I can’t really help you. If it does, get out there and see this movie. You’ll be glad you did.