Josh Wilding Reviews: THE HUNGER GAMES

Hit the jump for my take on the film which many are already predicting will be the biggest of 2012. Does it live up to the hype or is worth avoiding as much as the next Twilight film? Find out here. [Minor Spoilers Ahead]

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By Josh Wilding - 3/23/2012

The plot of The Hunger Games is fairly straightforward. As punishment for an uprising which took place an undisclosed number of years ago, one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 are selected from each of the twelve districts to compete in the annual Hunger Games. The twelfth is home to Katniss Everdeen, who volunteers for the Games after her younger sister is selected in the raffle process known as the "reaping". There is a stark contrast between this bleak, impoverished location (which is eerily similar to that of another Jennifer Lawrence film, Winter's Bone) and the futuristic capitol city which the duo are soon whisked off to by Elizabeth Banks' delightfully shrill and eccentric Effie Trinket. Her brightly coloured clothing, hair and make-up are entirely out of place in comparison to the dull, washed out clothing of the District 12 citizens but we soon see that this is how everyone looks in the capitol. Although the story is set in a fictional nation (Panem) and a clearly futuristic setting, this difference of appearance is clearly meant to reflect the wealth and class divide; something which to an extent feels a little too forced.

Regardless of what we see on the surface, what becomes even more apparent is what a twisted world this truly is. The story is extremely effective in showing this, especially when it becomes clear that these people love the Hunger Games and pay no mind to the fact that children are being sent to their deaths. This is reality TV gone too far, and there are some very interesting parallels to our world which sets The Hunger Games a million miles apart from the irrelevant and inaccurate Twilight comparisons. Although a younger audience will certainly enjoy the film, the grown up themes on offer mean that you will have plenty to think about once the credits role. The build up to the beginning of the Games is a fairly slow one, but this is by no means a bad thing. Instead, it gives us time to explore the world and get to know the characters well. While the majority of the 24 youngsters remain reasonably anonymous, we end up learning all we really need to know about those who do have a role in the story as the film progresses. There is simply no need and not enough time for every single one of them to be properly introduced and the script handles this well by ensuring that what we do see of them is relevant to Katniss' story.

As the Hunger Games begin, the harsh reality of the situation begins to set in and bodies begin to fall. From this point, there's something for everyone. Action, emotion and even a love story of sorts all take place within the Games. While the plot itself may not be the most groundbreaking of concepts, that matters very little thanks to the fascinating characters who populate the world created by author Suzanne Collins. The film is anchored around Katniss and she is brought to life brilliantly by Jennifer Lawrence. The actress creates a likeable and sympathetic character, delivering a powerful performance in the process. Josh Hutcherson delivers an impressive performance as Peeta, while supporting actors Woody Harrelson, Lenny Kravitz, Wes Bentley and Donald Sutherland are all on fine form. They each end up playing a fairly pivotal role in proceedings and for the most part add even more depth to their characters thanks to what they each individually bring to the roles. However, it's Stanly Tucci who really shines as the eccentric host of the Games, Caesar Flickerman, in a wonderfully over the top performance which thankfully never becomes too silly. It's hard to find fault with anyone in The Hunger Games as even the younger cast members (Amanda Stenberg as Rue in particlar) do a great job. Liam Hemsworth also proves to be as likeable a screen presence as his older brother (you know him as a certain Marvel God of Thunder) and its a shame that his role is ultimately a fairly minor one.

To compensate for the fact that this is a film which can't go too overboard with the violence, director Gary Ross has shot and cut the film in a way which still allows for a suitable amount of shock in some fairly brutal moments. If the film falls down anywhere, it's with just how vague it is at times. We see the organisers of the Games pulling strings (they somehow have the ability to start fires or release viscious dogs into the arena) but the real reason for why they are doing this is never that clear. We understand that they want to make sure someone heads a certain direction or need to spice things up, but it still would have been nice to explore this to an even larger degree. We meet Sutherland's President Snow at a few key moment and despite the fact that he's clearly meant to be the villain of the piece, he's never fleshed out enough for us to really care all that much. These are only really minor complaints, but are undeniably a little frustrating. The CGI is, for the most part, flawless and a powerful score really lends itself well to the edge of your seat action. Ross handles the film well, but the grounded nature of the arena means that some of the slightly more "science fictiony" parts feel out of place and the drastic change in tone sometimes pulls you out of the story we're supposed to be invested in - Katniss'.

Despite a few minor flaws, this is a well acted and exciting adaptation. Gary Ross has created a world which thoroughly invests you in both the story and characters. By the time it finishes, you will be counting down the days to the sequel and rushing out to buy the books. A must-see.





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40 Comments
ksommer - 3/23/2012, 12:29 PM
I will be counting down the days till the sequel. Because Thor 2 will be coming out the week before! :)
superbatspiderman - 3/23/2012, 12:29 PM
I'll wait for it to go on DVD because I never read the books. My sisters are going to see it though. I'll save my money for all the big movies this summer.
OverlyManlyMan - 3/23/2012, 12:32 PM
I have never heard of the books before the movie. Might have to check it out.
GreyChaos13Zero - 3/23/2012, 12:37 PM
might have to check it out when it's out on DVD because of all these great reveiws?)
SpiderHyphenMan - 3/23/2012, 12:38 PM
In the immortal words of Jonah Hill in 21 Jumps Street, this is for the haters, "YEAH WASSUP!!! WASSUP!!!! SUCK ON MY BALLS, YOU MOTHER[frick]ING PRICK! WE ARREST PEOPLE NOW!!! WASSSUP! WASSUP!!!!!
SpiderHyphenMan - 3/23/2012, 12:38 PM
Yep, that's how I do it....:P
ThaMessenger07 - 3/23/2012, 12:44 PM
awesome.....

TheBaroness89 - 3/23/2012, 12:46 PM
Had not read the books- I went into it fresh faced not knowing anything except the basic premise.
LOVED IT
When it was over I didn't want it to be over- I needed to know what is next for Kat and Peeta.
This was an exceptional kick off to the 2012 Blockbuster slate of films: Up next THE AVENGERS
RaleighAntrobus - 3/23/2012, 12:49 PM
I'll wait for the Netflix rental.
JDUKE25 - 3/23/2012, 12:49 PM
Can't wait till tomorrow night.
OptimusBurgundyMaximus - 3/23/2012, 12:54 PM
@ tea bwahahahaha you watch that mate seriously
DaenerysTargaryen - 3/23/2012, 12:57 PM
I'm seeing it tonight :)
Brashlight - 3/23/2012, 1:01 PM
It’s been a while hadn't commented in what seems like forever!

For anyone who has not read the books I definitely recommend it. I hadn't read them until I heard about the movie and ended up staying up late multiple nights because I couldn't put the books down.

Tea@ lol, forgot how much i enjoyed your exquisite take on human thoughts, you always seem to get down to the core of what everyone is feeling lol!
OptimusBurgundyMaximus - 3/23/2012, 1:02 PM
@tea is it on sky 1 ......eww theirs so much rubbish on there

Best thing about this film ?

Finally got to see Avengers Trailer yeah huge ass screen yeahhhh

but seriously the film wasnt violent enough ;/
KNIGHT3000 - 3/23/2012, 1:03 PM
Why is everyone comparing this to TWILIGHT? Every review so far has mentioned this comparison. I never gave Twilight a chance, does that mean I shouldn't give this a chance?
Brashlight - 3/23/2012, 1:09 PM
I think i can oblige :)

Biel Bomb!!!



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DCwanabe - 3/23/2012, 1:11 PM
Nice review this was a great movie I loved it. It was totally new. I really enjoyed how the movie did not glorify the violence I felt as depressed about it as the rest of the fictional characters, the hope at the end really has me exited to see where the story goes. I dont know if I can make 3 more years without reading the books.
OptimusBurgundyMaximus - 3/23/2012, 1:11 PM
EVERYBODY TROLLLLLLLLLLLLL

do the shuffle !
OptimusBurgundyMaximus - 3/23/2012, 1:12 PM
gus@

please no need for horseface ....seriously my penis just died
Brashlight - 3/23/2012, 1:14 PM
Gusto@ For the sake of the children i couldn't allow you to do that.....


DCwanabe - 3/23/2012, 1:15 PM
The soundtrack for this movie is pretty cool too. I like the taylor swift song. The knife throwing girl was from "the orphan" man that was creepy to see.
OptimusBurgundyMaximus - 3/23/2012, 1:16 PM
tea@ yhh babestation .... 11 o clock at night playboy tv preview


please somebody post something with Scar jo QUICK need 2 get that image outta my head !
Brashlight - 3/23/2012, 1:19 PM
Ferris Beuller affter sex with his wife...
Brashlight - 3/23/2012, 1:21 PM
Tea@ Thank you! That will get me through the rest of the day at work :)

sikwon - 3/23/2012, 1:22 PM
for anyone that hasent read the books they are fantastic. my 14 year old daughter pretty much strong armed me into reading them (the same way i strong aemed her into reading the Enders Game books) and i must say that they are excellent storys. they are not kids books by any means. even if you arent a fan of scifi (and i assume the majority of you are, at least a little bit) you will absolutely enjoy these books. if the movie is even half as good as the books its worth a trip to the theater. and i cant WAIT to see woody harelson. hes perfect, perfect, for the part hes playing.
DCwanabe - 3/23/2012, 1:23 PM
Also glad the movie is not trying to sell out with 3-d there were like 2 theaters in phoenix that were showing 3-d and the producer said that it was a mistake and they wont waste their time with 3-d for the next movie. DIE 3D!!!!!!!!
DCwanabe - 3/23/2012, 1:26 PM
@sikwon Yeah my sister read them and she said they were great stories I saw the movie last night and I agree its a story worth seeing and reading. I loved having no idea what was going to happen they did a good job of keeping a lot of the movie out of the previews.
OptimusBurgundyMaximus - 3/23/2012, 1:26 PM
ahhhhhh BEWBS
Brashlight - 3/23/2012, 1:27 PM
sikwon@ I completely agree, I originally didn't care to read the books but i was really glad i did. I have a buddy who has been trying to get me to read enders game and i still haven't. That might be my next one to start.

Tea@ LMFAO, sh*t like that is going to get me in trouble, everyone stares when you laugh out loud at work!!!
Brashlight - 3/23/2012, 1:29 PM
Nomis@ Oh my god, i think i just peed myself laughing!

Well played sir...well played indeed
OptimusBurgundyMaximus - 3/23/2012, 2:30 PM
OMG ITS LIKE HORSE PORN UP THIS

EYES BURNING BLAHHHHHHHHH ?!


@Scorpion8125 I feel ya bro ;)
MovieMaster - 3/23/2012, 3:01 PM
I skipped the review.... The comments are more interesting.
incrediblesuperbatspider - 3/23/2012, 3:25 PM
I liked it better when it was called battle royale
Bandrews1 - 3/23/2012, 3:28 PM
Nice review, I'm going to check it out tonight.
pro346 - 3/23/2012, 3:39 PM
Flawless CGI...yeah if you think syfy channel originals have flawless cgi
Tainted87 - 3/23/2012, 11:12 PM
The uprising was at least 74 years before the movie takes place. "74th annual Hunger Games"

Guess what? Saw it twice already.

Audiences pissed me off both times too. It's a shame when adults don't know how to behave... ah but wow, look at all the comments here objectifying women like there's no tomorrow. I get that you guys are playing, but grow up a little?

Anyway, what I am referring to is the audience and their impulse to force a laugh at nearly every scene - is it a coping mechanism? I'm not the kind of person who can't enjoy a funny scene in a serious film, but when kids are dying (which is no spoiler), there's a wave of laughter. All of them, not just the ones we aren't supposed to like. Yesterday and today.

Today, a bunch of my coworkers were talking about this girl who was outed as a lesbian by administration in a nearby high school, and her parents took action to separate the couple. This girl, whose name I don't know, killed herself. The conversation at work went from "that's [frick]ed up" to "that's so stupid, why take your own life?" to "I bet in a couple of weeks, the whole school will have forgotten about it".

I thought about this girl I never knew and probably wouldn't have known anyway, who killed herself, who will now only be remembered for her death, while I watched "Hunger Games" for the second time with my sister.
australiancomicbookmoviefan - 3/23/2012, 11:46 PM
I'll be happy to see The Hunger Games.

The comments made my day.
Dmon - 3/24/2012, 1:37 AM
Tainted is gay just like this movie.
pro346 - 3/24/2012, 3:05 AM
@scorpion I agree! Movies are about entertainment not all this other BS!its a crap movie anyway.
Feedthemachine - 3/24/2012, 10:17 AM
In the books we don't meet President Snow until Catching Fire, so the fact that they introduced him this early was great.

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