|All photo credits: Murray Close|
I've read the book, The Hunger Games. And I know this story back and forth. I loved the book, and VERY nervously anticipated the movie. Because nothing is worse than watching a story that you loved, one that took you days to read, being slowly destroyed in a matter of hours.
With that being said. . . .
The Hunger Games film adaption was a surprisingly on target, bone chilling tale that had my stomach in. my. toes. within the first 15 minutes of the movie.
The movie starts out by introducing the audience to the nation of Panem, the ruinous land of North America which is now divided into 12 districts. The camera pans the desolate landscape in dizzying array as its poor citizens are displayed and gathered in lots as they await to find out if their fate will land them in the Hunger Games, a twisted televised reality TV punishment, which sends one teenage boy and girl from each district to fight for their life as a "Tribute" in a massive outdoor arena until only one survivor remains.
This is no Twilight.
We meet Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence), in the beginning as she tenderly sings her little sister, Prim, a lullaby. Within minutes, her softened inner core is transformed into an armor-like exterior as she suits up and leaves to illegally hunt for food to feed her family.
Before the audience has a chance to get to know the characters, we find out all we really need to know.
Katniss is strong.
Katniss is brave.
And it becomes strikingly obvious that when Katniss cries, "I VOLUNTEER!!!" with tears and pleading in her voice, begging to take the place of her younger sister in the Hunger Games, that Katniss . . . . .is about to kick some serious Tribute booty.
But, not without hardship.
Not without making impossible choices between humanity and life.
And not without downright good old fashioned cinema magic.
Though the film, failed to touch on certain aspects that were central to the book, such as the 3-fingered salute and the importance of the Mockingjay, it was true to the story and did a superb job in casting its cast of characters.
Woody Harrelson as Haymitch Abernathy, a former Hunger Games victor, is spot on as he embraces his role as Katniss' drunken mentor.
Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworth) has only a secondary role in this film, but, iti s as if he was plucked directly from the pages of the book and placed on screen.
And Peeta Melark (Josh Hutcherson) at first had me wondering if he would fit the bill as he entered onto the screen with his slicked down hair and timid looks, but as the movie develops the strength of his character pulls the audience in, and you're loving him just as much as Katniss.
All in all, the movie was fantastic.
But, it was much more difficult to watch on screen than it was to read.
The violence was undeniable, though much of it was blurred, inferred, though not downright gruesome.
Make no mistake, this movie is about death, and life, and impossible choices. But most importantly, how love can bridge them both.