‘The Hunger Games’ Review: Another Successful Adaptation of a Pop Culture Phenomenon

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The post Harry Potter world is a dark one, one where kids are murdered by other kids, all orchestrated by the government. Welcome to The Hunger Games, a film destined to see its sequels played out on screen in which the odds are most definitely in its favor.

To be clear, I have not read the books and will be writing this review strictly on its merit as a film. There are plenty of moments where I can see there was more to what was portrayed on screen, but that is what comes with a book-to-film adaptation. For the record, The Hunger Games avoids this far better than all of the Harry Potter films. And that is the last time I will compare it to that magical series as Games is a completely different monster to behold.

The plot and overall concept of the film is fantastic. Sure, the story isn’t the most original, but the way that it’s told is gripping and proves to be a fascinating examination of where our culture could eventually head. The first act details this world and how the games work as a reality TV show. The scenes where Katniss and Peeta have to try and win over the public are the best in the film. The way that the games are viewed by the society is easily the most interesting aspect of The Hunger Games.

Of course, however, action takes over for the second act as the games actually begin. Half the participants are immediately killed in an eery silent sequence of disturbing and heartless violence. This is where the style of the film truly shines as this blockbuster feels like an indie action film. The overall small feeling of the film greatly benefits the incredibly raw nature in which the action scenes are shot.

Then we get to the third act, where I begin to have some serious problems with the story. With a simple change of the rules that I won’t reveal here, a lot of the questions about humanity that this tale raises are abruptly thrown away. One character who was originally fascinating to watch has every interesting thing about him stripped away with this act. Oh, and the dogs took away from what should have been a very human battle.

Despite these issues, the end is still an acceptable piece of filmmaking largely because of the excellent cast. Jennifer Lawrence proves once again that she is worthy of the lead roles she keeps getting. Katniss is a hero you can really get behind. Her maturity yet incredible emotional range reflects both Katniss, and Lawrence herself. Josh Hutcherson also handles the material well as Peeta. The supporting cast is full of extremely likable characters. Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, and Stanley Tucci spend their time on screen chewing the scenery. All three appear to be having a grand old time, making our time watching it all the more fun.

The Hunger Games is a very good movie, but perhaps with some adjustments to the clunky third act, it could have been a great one. Its problems are mostly made up for by its fantastic cast of both veterans and rising stars. The concept is rich and luckily, there are still two more novels to adapt before this phenomenon gets put to rest. Grade: B+

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