on 4 September 2012
Firstly I have read the books and I loved them. They were brutal, funny, tragic, romantic and heartwrenching. Everything a good adventure novel should be.
So it was I was waiting eagerly for the film. I never got the chance to see it at the cinema; but based on the numerous good reviews I preordered the blu-ray. I really enjoyed the film; but as with many other reviewers I felt that the book was better.
The book spent much more time establishing characters and relationships and I really liked that. Obviously, with the book being in first person, everything was from Katniss' perspective - but that only serves to makes you sympathize with her predicament and those around her more. Her relationships with Peeta and Rue go much deeper in the book and I felt the film foolishly downplayed these moments. Likewise, the other contestants in the games seemed vastly under utilised in the film; and as a result they either became unimportant or impotent. Cato was a fierce and imposing killer in the book - but reduced merely to a brooding bully in the film (albeit one with a sword).
Don't get me wrong - I enjoyed the film and I'm glad I bought it, but I just wish it been a little better. However, I am sure when I watch it again - knowing everything that's changed or omitted - I will enjoy it much more. I felt the same way with Twilight - hated it on first viewing.
I look foward to Catching Fire and Mockingjay!
on 22 June 2012
Having read all the Hunger Games books I could not wait for this to come out in the cinema but part of me was worried that making such a complex book into a movie would not be possible (lets face it most books are miles better than the movies due to the simple fact they can go into a lot more detail)but I have to say I did not need to be worried in the slightest, I loved it that much I ended up going to see it twice!
The film is set in the future in an american nation called Panem which is split into districts. Each year the capitol of Panem forces each district to volunteer up a boy and a girl to compete in the annual "Hunger Games" as punishment for rising up against the capitol many years ago.
As the 74th Hunger Games is about to start Katniss Everdeen finds her 12 year old sister is chosen to compete, knowing she would never make it out alive Katniss offers herself in her sisters place and from then on is put into the arena with all the other tributes to fight for her life.
However there is one slight problem - Peeta Mellark, the boy who once saved her life is in the arena with her and how can she bring herself to kill him when she just might be falling in love with him.
This film does the book justice and it actually follows the majority of the book down to the very lines spoken.
The acting is amazing from everyone in the film, it is without a doubt Jennifer Lawrence's best movie yet!
I can't wait to own such an amazing movie, I'm sure it is going to be one I will watch again and again!
« Hunger Games » is certainly the best film I have seen since many many months, and it is a very successful adaptation of an excellent book.
In my personal opinion, both the book and the film are much deeper and much more ambitious, than what most critics and reviewers would make us believe. After reading the reviews in "New York Times", "Le Monde" and on "Msn.com" (to cite only few) I was surprised that they mostly missed everything that is important in this film. With a kind of amused superiority (like people from Capitol in the film), the "professional" reviewers pointed at the obvious allusions to gladiator fights, the reality shows, the importance of trashy entertainment in today's TV, the search for a new franchise able to replace "Twilight", etc., etc.
But they almost entirely failed to see that this film is first and above all about much more important things: how to keep hope, not lose the courage and preserve humanity and dignity under a totalitarian oppressive regime.
I believe that almost everybody now knows that when writing "Hunger Games" Susan Collins attempted basically a modern (even futurist) retelling of the old Greek myth of Theseus and Minotaur. According to this ancient tale, after losing a war, every year the city of Athens had to send a tribute of seven young men and seven maidens to the king of Crete. Once there those young people were locked in the Labyrinth, to be devoured by the monster Minotaur. This yearly punishment and humiliation lasted until Theseus, crown prince of Athens, volunteered to be one of the tributes - then, once locked in the Labyrinth, he defeated and killed the Minotaur.
In "Hunger Games" what was once United States (and I think also Canada) is now called the Panem. It is a country divided in twelve Districts remaining under the control of the Capitol central metropolis. There was once thirteen Districts, but when they rebelled against the central power, the Capitol destroyed completely the District 13 with all its population and then defeated and submitted again the twelve others. In order to remind to its subjects how absolute is its power, the Capitol claims a yearly tribute - one girl and one boy of ages from 12 to 18 from every District. The tributes are then send to an arena and forced to fight, until only one remains alive. This yearly event is called the Hunger Games and it is shown live on TV to all the population of Panem. This film tells the story of what happened at the 74th edition of Hunger Games...
For Capitol the purpose of Hunger Games is to remind yearly how powerful is the central metropolis and how dire can be the consequences of its wrath, but also - and even more importantly in my opinion - to humiliate and degrade the people of the Districts by forcing them to become accomplices (even if under duress) of a barbarian custom in which some of their own children are send to the slaughterhouse. And as all bullies and abusers know, it is much easier to oppress, abuse and brutalize victims who lack self-esteem...
Well, in this film we can see how one of the tributes from District 12, an exceptional young girl named Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), manages to turn the tables on the Capitol and by allowing people of Panem to regain some of their dignity she will be the pebble which starts the avalanche. The exact way in which she does that will not be revealed here, but both in the book as in the film it is described in a very intelligent and very moving way...
This may seem a rather improbable thing that a 16 years old child can do something that will ultimately bring down a seemingly invincible and all-powerful tyranny, but let's not forget that in the real world, the great wave of revolutions of Arab Spring began on 18 December 2010 with a desperate gesture of a dirt-poor 27-years old Tunisian street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, who set himself on fire after having been robbed and beaten by the corrupt local police one time too much... Less than two years after, the oppressive regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya already collapsed, the seemingly eternal dictator of Yemen had to resign and the Syrian brutal regime is now facing a massive armed rebellion..
Bottom line, this film is first and before all a story about how even a seemingly powerless person can horribly hurt a tyrannic regime with a magic potion made of lots of courage, an ice-cold determination, a great personal dignity, a little compassion, a handful of flowers, a couple of tears and one defiant and powerful challenging gesture...
The powerful message and excellent scenario are not the only reasons why I consider "Hunger Games" as a masterpiece. Actors were selected very carefully and they perform very well. Jennifer Lawrence is simply perfect - there is no other word to describe her performance! However, after seeing her in "Winter's Bone" and "X-Men: First class" I didn't expect anything less.
But the real surprise in this film comes from Josh Hutcherson who plays Peeta Mellark, the boy tribute from District 12. His character is more difficult to play, because Peeta is in the same time more limited but also more complicated than Katniss. Josh Hutcherson could have very easily fall in one of the many traps which are build in Peeta's character. By overacting or underacting he could have make him a wimp or a passive follower or an immature kid, but he avoided those snares with grace and his Peeta comes out of this film as a surprisingly complex and also a very likeable character. He is certainly not a hero and a fighter like Katniss - but until the very end he preserves his honor, in a deadly place where he shouldn't ever be send...
A special mention goes to little Amandla Stenberg, who plays 12-years old Rue, the youngest of all the tributes. Her character is both secondary and in the same time incredibly important - and this little cute pixie played it perfectly!
Other, more known actors contribute to the success of this film. Woody Harrelson is excellent as Haymitch, the only person from District 12 who ever won in the Hunger Games and is now an advisor to Katniss and Peeta (and this is a high praise coming from me because I usually do not like this actor at all). Lenny Kravitz portrayed a perfect Cinna, the man in charge of image (clothes, haircut, make up, etc.) of tributes from District 12 in all public appearances before the games begin. And finally there is the giant figure of Donald Sutherland, who plays the supreme ruler of Panem, President Coriolanus Snow. He is purely incredible. There is a moment in this film when he says to somebody "I like you" - and I believe that I have never heard such a terrible and deadly threat in one short sentence since the famous Schwarzenegger's "I will be back" in "Terminator"...
I also absolutely adored the using of the cameras. In some moments of this film we have the impression of going after the characters with a camera, like a war correspondent following the fighters (this style was also very skillfully used in "The Shield" series). Of course not all the film is turned in this way, but mixing this kind of scenes with more conventional ones gives here an excellent effect.
The games themselves are very skillfully described and are a very dramatic tale, full of surprises and twists. I found them much much better than "Battle Royale", to which this book and film are often compared. The games are deadly and brutal, but there is only limited gore - I think this film is suitable for young teenagers, although not for children younger than 12. There is also absolutely no nudity, sex or strong language and I for one found it a most excellent thing.
There are still many more good things to say about this film, but I believe you should discover them by yourself. One more thing however about the book - it is of course possible to see and greatly enjoy this film without reading the book, but I believe that reading the novel first is a good idea. If reading the whole book is out of question, I would advise to read at least the first hundred pages. It will not reveal much about the games themselves, but it will allow for a better understanding of some of the key elements: the strength of the bond between Katniss and her younger sister, the history that Katniss shares with her hunting partner Gale, the complicated relation between Katniss and her mother and last but not least, the mysterious bond existing between Katniss and Peeta Mellark.
About this last point: if you did not yet read the book I do not want to spoil the pleasure of discovery so I will say just this - Katniss and Peeta lived for 16 years in the same village, but they never spoke one to another (except for an occasional "Hello") and they never touched one another in any way. And still, they share a secret as big as life and death, a secret which both bonded them together and in the same time separated them deeply... If you want to know the solution of this riddle you have either to watch very very carefully every scene of the film or simply read the book...
Conclusion: this film is a masterpiece! I loved it and I am going to buy the DVD as soon as it is available. And I am SOOO going to see the second part, as soon as it opens!
on 31 July 2016
Apart from the last of the four, all these films were strong four-star ratings, in my opinion, with the next one - 'Catching Fire' - and Part One of the two M'jay films, being the best.
The storyline is somewhat cliched but well done. This first film introduced many of the characters well, and we knew enough to want to know more, with the lead being quite effective.
One dislike in one of these films was the line when KitKat called a cat stupid: "stupid cat". I thought, no, don't say that!
Also, there is surely a line even in fiction-writing that separates social commentary from propaganda, and because the release date for these Hunger Games films coincided uncannily with a certain ongoing conflict in a particular area of the world, consequentially, the plot didn't resonate on any deeper level, other than seeming inescapably naive.
So I simply treated the films as light, fun, Sci-Fi, which they were.
Worth getting snowed in and doing a binge-watch with the set.
on 1 August 2016
A great story that holds the attention from opening credits to conclusion, I bought this film after coming in for a bit of a hard time from my sons who thought that a man of my age (60) was a bit old to consider buying The Hunger Games which they saw as being a "teen flick"!.
Didn't put me off at all. Yes, they all fancy Jennifer Lawrence. and it must be said she is quite an attractive actress. However, as an action movie I thoroughly enjoyed this. Special effects were very good as well.
I will get the follow up!
on 3 August 2013
All science fiction futuristic societies are written to have a message about the current day. This is normally contained within the text, or a line someone speaks. The movie starts giving us some background for the games, but we don't know why there was a rebellion in the first place, something that is in the book. The rebellion resulted in a lottery where teens from the various districts must now compete in a survivor battle to the death, all for the entertainment of the audience. Early in the film we hear, "If no one watches, we won't have a game." In other words if we stop watching reality TV shows, they will be taken off the air...not exactly a bad thing.
In those other films the evil of society had been either, capitalism, socialism, the super rich, corporations, religion, or science. The irony of the film/book is that it makes fun of the viewer/reader for enjoying it. They are the problem with today's voyeuristic dummy down society, which like the movie can be divided into two groups" Those who see the movie/games as entertainment. And the intellectuals who realize the metaphor contained within. I'm loving it! (Pardon my pop culture response, but it seems apropos.)
There is a stark contrast in wealth and dress between those who participate in the games and the society who runs them. However, it is those who participate who ultimately empower those who run them, just like with war, the second message of the film which dates from Homer "War is old men lying, young men dying."
Jennifer Lawrence, who I thought was Oscar worthy in "Winter's Bone," immediately becomes our heroine when she volunteers to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games. We don't expect her to die anytime soon. As the fighting begins I kept wondering if they were going to simply fight for everyone's entertainment or are we going to get a Captain Kirk/Agorn moment when he has defeated his opponent and refuses to kill him shouting, "You are going to have to get your entertainment elsewhere!" Or maybe we could end it like "Death Race 2000" where Frankenstein kills the president...but I am getting way ahead of myself.
The victims, or tributes as they are called, are paraded and cheered having done nothing...similar to reality show TV "stars." (Yes I mean you talentless Snooki.) People wildly cheer because...they can. Woody Harrelson helps to bridge the time from when Jennifer Lawrence is selected until the fighting begins. Donald Sutherland appears as an unrealistic unlikeable President Snow, a composite character representing the evil of society. There are interviews and pageantry prior to the games during which time we get to know more about Jennifer and very little about the other contestants. It would have been nice to have known some of the quirky combatants and have them killed in ironic ways to their character, but maybe that was too much to ask about a film about shallow entertainment.
Jennifer, with her honesty and rebellious attitude has become the fan favorite and our favorite because she is the only contestant that we know. She lacks the killer instinct...until she must. Alliances form and everyone wants to get the fan favorite aka Rambette Jennifer Lawrence, who did an excellent job to give girls a heroine being both a compassionate woman and a huntress. Like all reality TV shows, when the drama starts to fade the program directors add an element to push it in the direction that they want.
No f-bombs, sex, or nudity. "Safe" for kids to watch.
After watching this movies, I couldn't wait but to look forward to watch all the Hunger Games movies. Now, that I have watched them all, this every first one is actually the best of all. (the last couple movies are awful!!!) Very different, even weird, yet exciting and engaging. A lot of contrasting points in the movie that really makes it stands out of the rest of the movies in the market. 5 * for this very first movie. The last 2 movies, forget about it!
The film version of the first book in a hugely popular trilogy of young adult science fiction dystopian novels comes to dvd, after a hugely successful cinema release.
For those who haven't read the book:
Near future America. Now called Panem. Somewhen after a devastating war. The country is divided into twelve districts. Some of which are richer than others. All provide vital resources. And all are ruled over by the capitol. Ever since the war, by way of punishment, each district has to send two teenagers to the capital every year for the hunger games. One male. One female. Twenty four competitors. They go into a sealed environent. Fight to the death. And only one can come out.
It's reality tv taken to the extreme. The stylish residents of the capital love the hunger games and betting on who will win.
Impoverished mining district 12 has only ever had one winner in all the years of the games. But when Katniss Everdeen, district 12 resident, a girl who helps support her family via hunting, since she's a crackshot with a bow, has to volunteer to take part in the games in order to save her sister from them, her world will never be the same again. Katniss is a loner, but she has to get used to the world of the capital. Working with other people, from her would be mentor to fellow competitor Peeta, a boy she barely knows. And she will have to fight to survive if she ever wants to see her family again....
The world of the hunger games sees people hooked on questionable reality tv. It sees a privileged and wealthy elite ruling a world where the poorer people feel ever more disenfrancished. And it sees a girl learning to trust and work with others and to do the right thing. It has lots of themes. Plus an excellent and strong central character. Someone who doesnt have superpowers, but is a credible and believable creation thus someone you can relate to. This is why the books are so popular.
Near future science fiction is a tricky thing to get right because, as they say, the one thing you can be sure about in regards to the future is that it won't look anything like we expect it will. But there's some excellent design work here which does go a long way towards creating a credible future society. From the impoversished mining area of district 12 to the bright fashions and futuristic buildings of the capital.
Jennifer Lawrence is perfect casting in the lead, bringing Katniss superbly to life.
Since the book was written entirely in first person present tense, the movie opts to focus on Katniss via lots of moments when she has no dialogue and moments of violence being done via fast moving handheld steadicams. It's an approach that succeeds, thanks also to the strength of the character and the portrayal.
It also opens the story out somewhat by having scenes that Katniss doesnt appear in. This being a change from the book. But these succeed because they show more of her world and add extra depth to some of the characters. There are two whom readers of the book might think differently about come the end as a result.
The casting of all the supporting characters is also good, Donald Sutherland in particular making President Snow a credible creation and a good three dimensional character.
In order to get a certificate that would allow younger viewers to watch, this is somewhat toned down from the book, all the violence as mentioned being fast and blurry and there being no blood. Even so this and the themes of the story mean a twelve certificate is about right and it wouldn't be ideal for anyone younger.
Readers of the book will find some minor changes but those are there to make it work as a movie, and it does that very well. If you really want to know all the differences then an internet search will bring up a lengthy articles that detail all of them But there's really nothing too major.
Half the film is the build up to the games. The other is the games themselves. Despite this the pace of the first half never drags. There are quieter and slower moments in the second half so it's not quite as pacy but that's down to there being some quieter moments during this period.
This is a very good adaptation of a strong novel, and a fine bit of science fiction for our times as well. And it's worth five stars.
The disc has the following language and subtitle options:
It begins with a few trailers but you can skip these via the next button on the dvd remote.
This is also a dvd of the kind they hardly make anymore. A two disc edition, the second disc being laden with extras.
Game Maker: A thirteen minute long feature about the origin of the book and it's popularity. Featuring lots of contributions from readers and fans and publishers. Book writer Suzanne Collins is a bit conspicuous by her absence though.
The world is watching: a two hour long making of documetary. This can be watched all at once, or in one of eight shorter sections. These range in length from nine to twenty minutes. This is a great feature for budding film makers as director Gary Ross is an excellent contributor, going into great detail about all sorts of creative choices and matters.
Letters from the Rose Garden: a nine minute long feature about Donald Sutherland and how he got the role of President Snow. It features him reading an email he sent Gary Ross with his thoughts on the character, which is superbly written and very well read. Thus this feature is highly recommended viewing.
Controlling the games; a five minute long feature, with more from Gary Ross, all about the design of the games control room.
A conversation with Gary Ross and Elvis Mitchell. A fifteen minute long chat between the director and a film critic, the latter asking some interesting questions about a few of the issues the movie raises. A lot of the running time of this is simply clips from the film, but the rest is thoughtful viewing.
Propaganda film: a two minute long feature, showing the film that you see in the movie which tells the origin of the Hunger Games.
Marketing archive; two short galleries of all the various posters for the film and stills from it's production.
Great movie. Great extras. Excellent Dvd as a whole.
on 16 August 2013
I rated The Hunger Games 5 star, because it is one of the very few films that have actually taken what has happened in the book. I expected it to be, Katniss gets chosen and then she wins by herself, killing Peeta on the way. But it didn't. My favourite film by far.
You must read the books first. They are always better than the films. Read them, and then watch. You will notice that they have very few differences.
I would recommend this to teens and above. A bit too much for those under 12 years of age.
on 13 October 2015
I really enjoyed this...and it's not just for teenagers ! It contains everything that we all crave...love, normality, excitement, peace, food and water, hope...life ! PS. I had read the three books already and I'm looking forward to the second film. I love trilogies (films or books) as they give you something to look forward to.