Flick Reviews: ‘The Hunger Games’ (2012)

Since it’s all about to come to an end, I thought up of reviewing the three Hunger Games films in the franchise. This will all lead to the series’finale ‘The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2’ which opens in Philippine cinemas this Wednesday November 18. So, without further ado, let me begin my review for ‘The Hunger Games’, the first entry in the franchise.

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Serving as the intro, the film adaptation of the first book in Suzanne Collins’ highly acclaimed book series kicks things off right by providing just the adequate amount of excitement and thrills. This saga is very promising, but it follows a trend. Quite fortunately, it is all done in a masterful fashion that doesn’t disappoint and succeeds in showing off its’ wonderful concept. Even non-readers of the book are certain to get impressed by the realization that it isn’t your typical YA film adaptation, for it tackles on serious real-world issues with keenness and great detail through the usage of its’ forcible narrative that thrusts into its’ rich mythology featuring characters facing real-world problems. Although it is not too apparent but rather subtle, it is still quite noticeable and leaves a good impression for what we’re about to see in the following chapters because it gets us waiting in eager anticipation as it heats up excitement. Props need to be given to the writers for not overdoing it and keeping it plain and simple. However, this also led to the film being quite overlong with its’ stretched build-up to the game they’re about to play; in my opinion at least. Somehow it felt a little longer than it really should’ve been with a fair amount of the film becoming a little draggy.

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The intro the the series, The Hunger Games basically just shows us what this ‘game’ is all about and delves into the nitty- gritty of this sadistic and inhumane attempt at amusement. Yes there may be some essential underlying themes, but the mere presentation of the games’ mechanics overshadow it quite well since that subject will be further explored later on in the films. It allows us to have fun and enjoy the entertaining sequences we are exhibited with and lets us not to worry too much about the more important details. This aspect guarantees that we overlook that and rather demands that we cage ourselves in this world where the poor are used as entertainment for the wealthy. surprisingly The Hunger Games can be seen as a brutal commentary on society. It throws quite a few effective punches at the real world we’re living in today with its’ depiction of what could happen in our future years and even our current state with our cruel government. It can be indeed taken as Collins’ stance on politics and society altogether, but it lacks punches with all the glittery aspects surrounding it. This is still quite understandable because the first film can be seen as a calm before the storm.  But still, as it’s sugarcoated with Suzanne Collins’ genius albeit formulaic narrative writing skills and help from screenwriter Billy Ray and director Gary Ross, The Hunger Games is pretty much captivating and thrilling even if some plot points needed a bit of tweaking.

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Since this is just the beginning of a bigger adventure, the characters given introduction are the ones that we’ll remember for the duration of the saga. Jennifer Lawrence does it best as she shines in her fierce portrayal of the rebellious spirit Katniss Everdeen. Her occasional deadpan delivery of lines are absolutely likable and proves that Katniss is another one of those characters that we’ll most likely get hooked on. Not only that, but I like how the writers handled her character with balance by keeping her silent at first and then eventually releasing all that “fire” kept inside her as the movie progresses. Another one of the best things about her characterization is that she highly evokes that “sign of peace and change” feeling which makes us root for her very much. Acting as the opposite of Katniss, we have Josh Hutcherson as Peeta who is quite shy in showcasing his skills. The two share a romance that thankfully doesn’t come out as forced, but rather produces genuine sparks.

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Aside from them two, we are also greeted with the flamboyant Effie Trinket and the sharp yet sleazy Haymitch. Both of which deliver terrific moments with their humor.  Since it is the movie where we are introduced to the game, we are given the candidates. Some of them are just really ferocious, such as Cato and Clove who you just really wanna rip apart in two. But even with all the glory and gore going on, the film manages to squeeze in a character that we’ll definitely never forget because of her adorable presence and charm. I’m referring to Rue, who manufactures a heartbreaking moment in the film and also becomes an important character. The relation she shares with our hero Katniss is one that is evocative, specially considering the fact that the writers made Rue as a quasi-metaphor for Katniss’ sister Prim. Rue’s final scene is especially essential because it also provides  terrific character development for Katniss as her conscience gets put to the test.

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For an opener, we are off to a good start with The Hunger Games. There’s enough entertainment factor to get hooked on, and pleasant characters to root for. Even with a flawed narrative that lacks a few tacks and needles, it still manages to flaunt Suzanne Collins’ brilliantly thought-of concept with director Gary Ross’ fascinating take.

3.5/5 stars.

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