In 2008, following the coattails of the successful Twilight Series, author Suzanne Collins introduced The Hunger Games to the world. The young adult novel is a post-apocalyptic adventure that swept across the globe and became an instant phenomenon. Therefore, it was no surprise in 2009 when Lions Gate Entertainment acquired the worldwide distribution rights. It was at that moment the bestselling novel began its transformation to the big screen. Three years later, and the wait is finally over.
The Hunger Games is set in Panem, a nation residing over what was once called North America. Panem consists of a wealthy capitol and twelve much poorer surrounding districts. Every year, as a punishment for a previous rebellion against the capitol, each district must offer up one randomly selected boy and girl between the ages of 12 and 18. Each of these 24 children competes in The Hunger Games, a winner takes all battle of survival.
In the 12th district, 16 year old Katniss Everdeen (played by Lawrence) volunteers as tribute after hearing her little sister's name called on the day of the selection. Katniss, along with her male counterpart from district 12 named Peeta Mellark (played by Hutcherson), embarks on a journey to the capitol in order to prepare for the violence that is sure to ensue. After her physical training and introduction to important financial sponsors, so begins the 74th annual Hunger Games and her quest for survival.
The Hunger Games is a mightily flawed, yet remarkably entertaining, adventure into the mind and creations of Suzanne Collins. Collins and the film's director, Gary Ross, develop an imaginative futuristic world that successfully hooks the audience. Along with its interesting setting, the whole concept of the Hunger Games competition immediately fascinates the viewer as well. Even though luring in the moviegoer becomes effortless, The Hunger Games struggles to connect the dots. As is usually the case with scripts adapted from novels, topics such as Katniss' father and Panem's drastically diverse class systems become presented but never developed. Perhaps, like the final Harry Potter installment, The Hunger Games would have been better served in two different pieces.
Another highly aggravating flaw comes at the hands of the film's director and its financier Lions Gate Entertainment. In an effort to maximize ticket sales, The Hunger Games is forced to cater to a PG-13 rating. In doing so, the picture in unable to push boundaries which would have easily catapulted it to more respectable heights. What is described as a brutal and violent competition becomes a sugar-coated portrayal that never feels satisfying. The lack of intensity and insanity during the feature's third act makes for an obvious theatrical let down.
Despite its ample flaws, The Hunger Games never loses its audience because of its intriguing story and talented young cast. The film serves as a solid reminder of all the well versed young actors and actresses in Hollywood. Perhaps none are more dazzling than the picture's leading star, Jennifer Lawrence. Lawrence is so mesmerizing and spectacular in all of her work, The Hunger Games included, that it's hard to believe she's only 21 years old. Suzanne Collins and Gary Ross couldn't have picked a better actress to star in their film. In addition to the work of Lawrence, excellent supporting roles are dished out by Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz. Harrelson never disappoints and, although I've never been a fan of Kravitz's music, he is quickly proving his natural ability to act. Having also been a stellar addition to the cast of 2009's Precious, this is just the second film to feature Kravitz and he's been memorable in both.
The Hunger Games is a lengthy movie that offers numerous pros and cons. But most importantly, the film does its job of entertaining the audience and staying true to the novel. The Hunger Games is by no means a must see, in fact, you're probably better off sticking to the books. However, if you're eager to see the movie, then do so. Chances are you won't be disappointed.