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Wednesday, March 21, 2012



Was RAMA caught up in all the hype about this film? Make sure to follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Unfortunately I’d have to stand in the middle on this one. I loved the book, I could read it a thousand times, the adaptation on the other hand, though not entirely terrible, does not excite me as much, but even if I hadn’t read the book, I think THE HUNGER GAMES film could be so much more deeply affecting. Granted it’s been months since I last read the book so I won’t be making too many comparisons in this review, and I promise I won’t compare it to Battle Royale.

I enjoy director Gary Ross’ style and the film’s scope and how loud and outrageous the costumes look, the future is undeniably wacky and it doesn’t mean a bad thing. The film, in my opinion, sadly tones down the violence and amps up the drama which doesn’t always work, especially when the hint of romance is uncertain, it may be for show only or it may be genuine. I think PG-13 is the wrong move for this film, because to me, THE HUNGER GAMES’ violence, kids killing kids, is the heart of the evidence of how cruel the government and the game truly are, it’s the very essence that fuels and motivates Katniss and Peeta to survive and so taming it or leaving it to thoughts, just makes you feel like you’re robbed of what should be an emotionally grounded, heart-wrenching film…

Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the evil Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games. A twisted punishment for a past uprising and an ongoing government intimidation tactic, The Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which Tributes? must fight with one another until one survivor remains.

Pitted against highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives, Katniss is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch Abernathy. If she’s ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

Let’s start with Jennifer Lawrence, I was a huge fan of her work in Winter’s Bone, she was absolutely phenomenal in that film, which obviously makes her qualify for THE HUNGER GAMES because much of the living condition of the people in District 12 is more or less similar but THE HUNGER GAMES moves quickly, I don’t think it gives the audience enough time to get acquainted with how harsh life is in District 12 and what it is that Katniss would have to leave behind and how difficult it is to part from that life. Ross throws some of those in, by way of flashbacks, but it doesn’t help trying to piece them together.
So it comes across a bit underdeveloped but keep in mind that it’s always tough when you deal with adaptations.

I think Jennifer Lawrence does a fantastic job as Katniss, though there are times when it’s hard to sense her emotions, there’s a scene in which Katniss shoots an arrow at the direction of the gamemaker and his company because she’s upset and angry but you can’t really sense if that is exactly what Lawrence is expressing. But other than that, Lawrence is by no means the weakest link of the film, that said I still think Hailee Steinfeld of True Grit would’v been a more solid choice for the role.

I find it amusing that Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth (Gale) who are natural blond, are now brunette and the brunette Josh Hutcherson (Peeta) has to go blond. Just an interesting note there.
The costumes and the makeup are the show stealers here, I was waiting to see how they’d pull the flame/fire spectacle at the arena for the opening ceremony, well, it’s not a spoiler if I tell you that nowadays you can just easily go digital, so I wasn’t wowed.
I think Hemsworth and Hutcherson are unable match Lawrence’s talent, despite their best effort. You’d see Lawrence as Katniss giving her all and then the camera moves to either Hutcherson or Hemsworth and neither of them could meet her halfway.

Donald Sutherland is a brilliant choice as President Snow, Sutherland is one of those actors that you could just hand him a role and he’ll run with it, and he’ll leave you with assurance that he’s going to do a damn fine job with it. The other 3 interesting characters of course are Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, Lenny Kravitz as Cinna, and Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket. Woody can play a drunk better than a drunk, so there’s no problem there and when he speaks, even when he’s drunk, you’d stay still and listen. I just wish they’d made Lenny look more eccentric, it’s sad because they go all out for other characters and the extras but Lenny as Cinna looks too normal and ordinary. Banks knocks it out of the park as the pink-haired Effie, the way she carries herself, she’s just sassy, I’d pay for another ticket just to watch her.
Before I forget, Stanley Tucci as the MC Caesar Flickman is fantastic, with his big smile and ridiculously white teeth, and freakishly tall hairdo. Ryan Seacrest, eat Flickman’s shorts!

For the most part, the film tries to stay faithful to the book but those of us who know better would notice how significant the changes are. I really like the design for the computer grid across the sky and also the way the gamemaker’s control room is set, think if The Truman Show’s director was in the future.
I could go on and on and on observing and analyzing every single detail but overall, THE HUNGER GAMES has so much potential to draw you in, if it would just not hold back as much. If it would be much braver or bolder, I’m a big fan of cinematographer Tom Stern but even his work on this film seems more on the safe side, the film doesn’t take enough risk. But I think the audience would follow the girl on fire anywhere she goes, at least to the sequels.

GRADE: 3 out of 5

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