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The Reel Deal: “The Hunger Games”

by Seth Childers

Film adaptations of a popular teen book series are not uncommon for Hollywood. Good film adaptations, on the other hand, are much fewer and farther in between. While films like Harry Potter were great, there have been plenty of films that either missed the mark or are just sloppy. The next book to be adapted to the big screen is Suzanne Collins’s “The Hunger Games,” and despite a few flaws in its translation from paper to film, it’s a great movie that will satisfy fans of the book while also remaining accessible to newcomers.

The story’s setting takes place in Panem, a world divided into twelve districts that is under the control of the evil Capitol. To keep the district under control from rebelling, they created ‘The Hunger Games,’ a competition that forces one man and woman from each district between the ages of 12 and 18 to fight to the death until one remains. It’s not an entirely original premise, as it borrows a few traits from Battle Royale and other works in the sci-fi genre, but it adds enough tricks of its own to stand out. The focus on the impact of media and how it can control people is an intriguing concept, and it plays out in very interesting ways in the story.

The movie is very faithful to the book, and though there are some details that had to be skipped over a bit, it does a particularly impressive job of filling in newcomers on certain details without relying on exposition. The cast of characters are all great, and the actors are all excellent in their roles. The biggest standout in the casting is Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, who brings in the right amount of toughness and vulnerability to her character. The emotional scenes also pack quite an impact when it needs to, and the action is brutal and intense without being overly graphic.

As solid as this movie adaptation is, it still suffers from some of the same problems that a lot of adaptations fall under. Like any other adaptation, not everything can make its way into the story due to pacing reasons, and thus some details are either skipped over or hardly explained. There are also some pacing issues, as some scenes can end abruptly all-too-often, and the movie tends to juggle between quiet emotion and brutal violence in the second half. Finally the shaky cinematography, though in ways more unique thanks to its documentary-like style, can be a bit too-much and sometimes makes the action incomprehensible at times, even when it’s not trying to cover up a violent death.

Despite its flaws, The Hunger Games is an impressive adaptation that will satisfy fans of the book and newcomers alike. The intense and brutal action, the deep emotion, and the near-perfect cast create an enthralling movie that is in ways stronger than even the first Harry Potter movie. It’s not a perfect adaptation, but  movie should be commended for being faithful to its source material while adding to it and stamping its own identity as a movie. It will be interesting to see where the next two films go from here, but until then, may the odds be ever in our favor.

Rating: 8/10 (Great)

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