“Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective. A lot of hope is dangerous. Spark is fine, as long as it’s contained.”
– President Snow
Sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen’s (Jennifer Lawrence) life is turned upside down when her sister Primrose (Willow Shields) is chosen as Tribute at the annual Reaping for the Hunger Games. Decades ago there was a war where the Capitol was damn near overthrown by the general population, and the leaders rose up with an idea: as punishment to the districts every year for their rebellion they would pay a price. The price was that one male and one female “tribute” between the ages of twelve and eighteen would be chosen to fight to the death. There are twelve districts. That is twenty three children led to their slaughter – with only one survivor.
Katniss volunteers to take her sister’s place, and leaves her best friend Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) behind. Gale hates the Games, and wishes that they could do something about the awful predicament that the districts are in, but it is wishful thinking – nobody wants to rise up against their oppressors. Katniss goes to the Capitol with the male tribute of her district, Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), where they undergo makeovers and training. Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson) is their mentor, but a drunkard is hardly what they need when they have to know about survival. Effie Trinket (Elizabeth Banks) is also useless, and typically from the Capitol, her attitude, clothing, etc. mimicking everything that causes Katniss her suffering. She relaxes somewhat around her stylist Cinna (Lenny Kravitz), who is very chilled, easy-going and calming.
Soon, however, Peeta declares his love for Katniss on television, making them the star-crossed lovers from District 12, a pair that the audience falls in love with after their daring entry into the competition. Gale is tasked with caring for Katniss’s family back home while she fights the Games to return home. Soon they are sent into the Arena, and all hell breaks loose. Katniss needs to survive more than ever, and her personality and resilience charms the Capitol of Panem, the people are crazy about her. Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley), the head Gamemaker, changes a lot of things in the arena against her purely for entertainment purposes. In the arena, Katniss is devastated to learn that Peeta is working with a group of tributes to hunt her down and kill her, and the pain she suffers is palpable that only one survivor can leave the arena. She later joins forces with a twelve year old girl named Rue (Amandla Stenberg) from District 11, and the two of them fight their way through the arena, desperate to stay alive.
The Gamemakers announce that this year two victors may be crowned as long as they are from the same district. Katniss now has an issue. Will she survive the 74th Hunger Games? What is Peeta playing at, professing his love for her to all the residents of Panem, and then turning against her when the time comes? Will they be able to reunite and bury the hatchet to be crowned the 74th Hunger Games victors? Will they go home to their families, or be slaughtered in the Caiptol?
Hunger Games earns a 7.5/10 for me. This was an incredibly good adaption of the book for me, which in theory should have been difficult seeing as the book was written first person, present tense. The one thing that Katniss Everdeen has going for her character in here that she never did in the book is that you don’t get such a look at her selfishness. Jennifer Lawrence was well cast as Katniss, and carries her well. Liam Hemsworth is simply fantastic as Gale, and I think he is great. Josh Hutcherson works fine for Peeta, and for the most part gets him right, but there are times where he sort of misses the plot a little in terms of character. Showing more of the Gamemakers and the setup of the Arena and how it was manipulated is essential to show the viewer what is going on seeing as it does not have that internal contemplation all the time that explains other people controlling the Hunger Games, hence Seneca Crane got a much bigger role. Stanley Tucci was excellent as Caesar Flickerman, and got the essence of the character well done. I just want to mention loving me some Woody Harrelson in here, the man really is fun. I would not say that this movie/book series is for everyone, as I know there are plenty of people that do not like it, but I enjoyed it.