By Denise Wong
Yet another addition to the list of big budget disappointments rolling out this year
As one of the most anticipated movie releases of the year, The Hunger Games doesn’t quite exploit its potential. Director Gary Ross was gifted with an all-star cast, including Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence as the tough-as-nails Katniss Everdeen, and chemistry between the actors brought the character relationships of the book to life, but the film storyline left much to be desired, with key scenes glided over (sure to enrage fans of the novel).
The Hunger Games is set in a futuristic North America that has been divided into 13 districts, and governed by the Capitol. In order to punish the districts for their past rebellion and keep the populace under control, the Capitol holds the Hunger Games every year. Each district is required to send a male and female tribute between the ages of 12 to 18 into a televised battle to the death.
While the novel is labelled as being for young adults, there is nothing juvenile about the content. It highlights the dangers of today’s reality television culture and the brutalities of war in a way that engages the audience. This is likely due to the more iconic nature of film for a story with a large base of teenage fans, but all instances of gore and violence was eliminated, going straight from stabbing gestures to people lying on the ground. None of the life-threatening injuries that made Katniss’ struggle in the arena so believable are included. Neither were there pools of blood, nor Peeta’s amputation.
Lawrence makes for a mature Katniss, but perhaps just a touch too much so, coming off far more strong and composed than she is in the book. Josh Hutcherson was every bit as charismatic and gentle as Peeta required him to be, but the script gave no chance for him to explore the emotional depths of his feelings for Katniss. The duplicity of Katniss’ feelings towards Peeta was left out entirely as well.
The Hunger Games is a movie about a bloodbath, but without much blood. Despite sitting at a lengthy 143 minutes, the film is heavily simplified from the book, and frankly, without those complexities, it is no longer a story worth telling.