This movie needs no introduction, but if you really need to know, it's the first movie adaptation of Suzanne Collins' famous Hunger Games trilogy. Every year, as a penance to the rebellion, each district of the post-modern war North America called Panem offers a Tribute - one girl and one boy - to the Hunger Games, a televised bloody fight till the end until one emerged and crowned the Victor. Much like Battle Royale but on TV. So much like Survivor minus the killing. Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark had the burden of being District 12's Tributes, leaving behind their families, their friends, their personalities, and the lives they know of behind.
It's a movie of dichotomy, a Nineteen Eighty Four for Young Adults, of, ok sige na nga, a seemingly tragic love story. Whichever way you look at it, The Hunger Games seems like it will never have a happy ending. But it did. For now at least.
Watching this movie can make one leave the theaters questioning humanity's morality. Is it right to send our children to pay for the sins of their parents? When will it ever be acceptable to feign love, the highest of emotions, for survival? How far would you go to play The Game? Those are the types of questions I would've expected people to be asking. But it seems as if the movie failed to draw these certain inquisitiveness on people who've seen it. Not generalizing, but mostly. Getting off my high horse now.
The visuals completely complement the emotions that one is supposed to associate and feel while watching the movie. Perfect examples are the snapshots of District 12 in Hunger Games era during the opening scenes - it's dismal, the colors are pale, the people are hungry and aging. Then comes Katniss and Gale, the robust and promising youth of District 12, doing an act of silent rebellion as they venture into the lush outside jungle of their district. The jungle reminds viewers that outside the fences of District 12 lies hope, promise, and, probably, freedom. Then comes the scene at the Capitol. Everyone looks absurd in their costumes, just like how the book described it to be. It is opulent but never sophisticated. It seems like everything is a farce and the costumes made it more obvious that Katniss and Peeta are there to put on the show. Every scene sets the stage for the next one.
There's no doubt that visually it is stunning. The colors, the tight shots, and first person point of view set the tone for the series. I never really appreciated the vertiginous camera movements, but my friend Z pointed out that this was to show how Katniss sees The Game, how her change of smile and enthusiasm towards the end is all part of how she plays the Hunger Games.
And, oh, there's no need for more Jennifer Lawrence adulation in this post. You are preaching to the choir. She nailed the part. I am more wary about Josh Hutcherson playing Peeta, but now I am convinced that he's Peeta. Having a non-A list, non-stunner of an actor play the part is a good move. Besides, Peeta has his own insecurities to deal with and this type of acting will never shine through if you cast another blonde actor for this part.
Lenny Kravitz as Cinna is also a revelation. I thought he is going to go the parlor gay route, but he was sleek, he was compassionate, and you'd actually believe that he knows fashion. Hey, he's Lenny Kravitz! One of the sexiest musicians on earth, so he must know what he's doing.
|*Wails!* Fave scene!|
Woody Harrelson as Haymitch was also refreshing. I must admit, when I put on my casting director hat while reading the books, I had Johnny Depp in mind (I know, I know). Never did I read Haymitch's character as sullen as Woody Harrelson played him.
I couldn't care less about Elizabeth Banks playing Effie Trinket. For me she's just a younger, less creepy version of Dolores Umbridge.
Even if it seems that everyone I know loves The Hunger Games, there's one thing that I find lacking: It did not scare me. It did not give me the shivers the way the books had me flipping through each page, eagerly anticipating what will happen to the characters, hoping they come out of it alive. Sure, people died. Rue died, and we see a wishy-washy version of what I together with thousands of others cried buckets of tears for in the book.
This movie's pitfalls are largely attributed to Mr. Ross' shortcomings for having directed mostly inspirational fluff. And Ross' previous work experience was passed on to this movie when it glimmered more Hope than it's supposed to be. But let's not put the sole burden on the guy. Suzanne Collins did have a hand in the script.
The movie is great, but it's not the best. But for solely going beyond than what I expected, I give this movie enough validation to anyone who would care.
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