Last evening I headed down to the local theatre, purchasing my ticket for $4 (yes, life in the country really does have its advantages), and immersed myself in the Hunger Games. I have read the books, however, but I was curious to see whether it would be portrayed well on the big screen.
And, for the most part, it was.
We begin in District 12 where our protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, has just received the shock of her existence: her twelve old sister has been selected, or "reaped", to participate in the barbaric Hunger Games - where 24 children are forced to fight to death for both the amusement of Capitol citizens & punishment of the 12 districts for rebelling seventy-five years earlier.
While her sister is heading towards the stage in shock, Katniss volunteers herself to save her sister, thus effectively ensuring her own death. This is followed by Peeta Mallark being reaped as the male tribute, who once saved the Everdeen family by tossing two loafs of bread he intentionally burnt to Katniss.
The film begins to speed up as they condensed almost 170 pages into 40 minutes: introducing us to Haymitch, the drunkard who is responsible for training the 12th District tributes, Effie Trinket - the one responsible for escorting the tributes from event to event, and Cinna, the stylist who during the tribute introductions - sets Katniss literally on fire.
During this time we do lose some of the finer points within the novel: our heroine's thoughts, some characters and plot have been condensed to save time, although I would argue in the case of killing almost all mention of the horrific prep team is a blessing to moviegoers, but the film does improve certain aspects as well.
Such as deepening the role of Seneca Crane as the Head Gamemaster; depicting the barbaric nature citizens within the Capitol have in regards to the games, which they see as reasons to wager money, and even buy presents for their children to reenact them and the revolt of District 11 residents when Rue, a little 12 year old girl, is killed during the Games.
The remainder of the film, from the time Cinna sees Katniss off before the Games begin, is almost 99% true to the novel and its breathtaking to see some of the scenes you imagined while reading on the big screen turn out to be even better then you believed, such as Katniss escaping the fire that was intentionally aimed at her by the game masters.
I have to mention character portrayal quickly: it was magnificent. Jennifer Lawrence tunred Katniss into someone believeable; someone you could imagine coming from your home town: strong, pretty and defiant. While the actors cast as Peeta, Gale, Haymitch, Effie, Cinna, Rue and most of the other contestants was absolutely spot on.
I do have to mention Stanley Tucci as Ceasar, who interviews the contestants before the Games and also covers the broadcast of the Games, as I believe he had too much fun with the character. He acts the character almost too brilliantly and his odd sense of humor definitely makes him the hit Suzanne Collins intended in the novel.
After almost a week in the arena, the Games are down to 6 contestants from 4 districts, and due to a rule change: 2 tributes can win if they are from the same district, which leads to Katniss seeking out Peeta, who is badly wounded because he helped her escape from danger earlier in the action.
She is forced to attend a feast to retrieve what Peeta needs so badly: medicine to heal his wounds. It almost turns into the end for Katniss when Clove, a tribute from District 2, ambushes her and is just about to kill her when Thead, the male tribute from District 11, avenges Rue's death from earlier by bashing Clove's skull into the cornocopia and sparing Katniss for helping Rue.
The film progresses from here as the female tribute from District 5 dies after eating poisioned berries Peeta picked; Thead is killed by Cato, the male tribute from District 2 and main antagonist, and the 3 remaining - Cato, Katniss and Peeta are eventually pitted in a deadly and prolonged fight to the end...
Which results in a standoff with Cato holding Peeta hostage, Katniss bearing her bow and arrow down on Cato and genetically mutated mutts released by the gamemakers attacking them from all sides. With Peeta facing certain death, Katniss fires an arrow into Cato's hand: allowing Peeta to get free and push Cato into the pack of mutts, which slowly mutilate him until Katniss, out of mercy kills him.
They are expecting to be named victors immediately, as per the rule change, when the announcer says the previous change was revoked - attempting to force Katniss and Peeta to kill each other. He offers himself up, when she remembers the poisoined berries the District 5 girl ate and as thinking the Games would prefer 2 victors over none, they slowly bring them to their mouth..When the announcer yells for them to stop, and crowns them the 74th Hunger Games victors.
In summary, this movie was definitely well worth the money and time I spent in it. It stayed mostly true to the original novel, was protrayed excellently by superb actors, and I would suggest watching the film and reading the novel, as the greatness of the film is only outdone by the awesomeness of the novel.