This Week at the Movies

The world has been set on fire this past weekend with the release of the highly anticipated film The Hunger Games. Based on Suzanne Collins’s best-selling book, this film is the first of a trilogy (or possibly more) of movies based on one of the most popular young adult series out there today. As an avid fan of the books, I was both nervous and excited to see the movie this weekend. Would it live up to the brilliant source material that is a fas-cinating commentary on our obsession with media, violence and particularly reality television? The author reportedly said that the idea for the book came to her when she was flipping between chan-nels of reality TV shows and news videos of the war in the Middle East. Thus, The Hunger Games was born.

Could a movie do the source material justice? I waited tensely in my seat for the movie to begin, hoping beyond hope that it would not fall so very short of the book, as many film adaptations have. It is with great relief that the movie was one of the best adaptations of a book I have ever seen.

For those of you who have not caught The Hunger Games fever, the story of the series takes place sometime in the future in a dystopian society in North America where 12 districts surround one capital city. The districts had tried to rebel, but failed. As punishment, the Capital insti-gated the annual Hunger Games, dur-ing which a boy and a girl ages 12 to 18 would be chosen randomly from each district to compete in a televised game where they must fight to the death. The story’s heroine, Katniss Everdeen, is from District 12. Her sister is chosen out of the hundreds of names to go to the Hun-ger Games, causing Katniss to volunteer to go to the games in her place.

There are many factors that made this movie amazing. First off, the project was approached in the way I wish every book adaptation was. The author, Suzanne Collins, helped write the screenplay and worked closely with the director to ensure the film would be true to her original vi-sion. The casting was spot-on, with up-and-coming stars in the main roles flanked by some tried and true old Hollywood hands. Heading the cast was the amazing Jennifer Lawrence, who plays the series’s heroine, Katniss Everdeen. Already with an Oscar nomination under her belt at age 21, Lawrence is one to watch. She plays Katniss brilliantly as the strong, self-possessed girl from District 12 who has learned how to survive her whole life. She gives audiences what we desperately needed – a strong fe-male lead that can kick ass and doesn’t need a man to take care of her. That is the rea-son all comparisons to the Twilight series should end, besides the plain fact that the stories are barely similar.

Alongside Lawrence is Josh Hutcherson, who plays Peeta Mellark, the boy tribute from District 12. This is where I must give a spoiler disclaimer. There is a slight love triangle be-tween Katniss, Peeta and Katniss’s best friend from District 12, Gale, who she hunts with secretly in the woods outside of the district for food. However, romance takes a back seat to action and survival in this series. The film-makers thankfully did not make it the focus of the film, as some may have wanted to. The supporting cast of this film is superb, includ-ing Stanley Tucci playing Ceasar Flickman, the game’s host and commentator, and Eliza-beth Banks as Effie, who oversees the tributes for District 12.

What sealed the deal for me on loving this movie is its unflinching depiction of the story Collins originally wrote. The con-cept of the games is sickening – kids kill-ing kids for people’s entertainment. Every moment in the arena is televised. Do not be fooled into thinking the filmmakers will shirk at showing kids killing each other be-cause they do not. The raw emotion of put-ting children into a situation where they are forced to kill each other is obvious in every moment in the arena. The games are not about simply surviving; they are about winning the audience over, transforming a poor kid from an outlying district into a painted, dressed-up star of reality TV. The games do not allow, as the Capital says, the odds to be ever in your favor; instead, the Games manipulate the odds to make the audience like you. This is not a happy tale. But the filmmakers do not make it cheesy or overly-dramatized.

One of my favorite moments of the movie was the heart-wrenching “reaping” scene when Katniss volunteers to take her sister’s place in the Hunger Games, know-ing it is almost certain death. There is no music scored for the scene – it is simply silent, so you can sense the terror of the world in which these people live. There is also a lot of hand-held camera action in both the games as well as District 12 in the beginning, which helps gives the film more of a rough, edgy feel, unlike the san-itized dramatic feel of many Hollywood action movies.

I implore you to not only see this movie but also to read the books. If the first movie was any indication, the adap-tation of this series will be one of the best Hollywood has ever churned out. Full of raw emotion that captures the source material, fantastically acted and directed, The Hunger Games is the best film I’ve seen so far this year.

Contact Margaretta Burdick at

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