Quick Take on The Hunger Games:
GO. SEE IT. NOW.
The film, directed by Gary Ross, is breathtaking, mainly due to its reliance on actual sets, camera work, and actors, as opposed to CGI. District 12 looked every bit as grey and barren as one could have imagined, and the Capitol and, most impressively, the arena looked every bit as real as District 12. There were only a few things that stood out to me as blatantly computerized–some of the views of the Capitol, and the evil mutts. Furthermore, it is a testament to how tangible and real the rest of the movie felt that these CGI components stood out, almost as if they were in the wrong movie.
When I first heard of The Hunger Games last year, as the buzz about a movie version of the popular book series grew to full-fledged mania, I went out and bought the first book…and then the second…and, soon after, the third. I was addicted. The books by Suzanne Collins demanded to be read, and read quickly. The world created in the trilogy is haunting, terrifying, fascinating, and features a great female heroine in Katniss–one of the best female characters I’ve ever come across.
And so, my bar was set high when I walked into the movie theater last weekend. In the books, the reader is privy to all of Katniss’ inner thoughts and emotions, coming into the movie, I thought that would be its biggest challenge. How do you portray all that inner turmoil, not to mention back story, without having too much exposition? The film actually did that, and more, through a combination of casting the role perfectly–and I don’t use that word lightly–and making the right changes to adapt the book into a screenplay.
I LOVE YOU, JENNIFER LAWRENCE
Though I hate to admit this, I need to be honest and say that I have not yet seen Winter’s Bone–a film that is known for introducing Jennifer Lawrence to the “big time.” And, yes, I agree, this is a fact that needs changing.
But, for now, it remains, so you will have to excuse my ignorance of what I’m sure is an extraordinary performance. I can say that, contrary to millions of movie-goers, The Hunger Games was not my first time watching Jennifer Lawrence on-screen. Last summer I thoroughly enjoyed her as Mystique in X-Men: First Class, and I loved her subtle work as Sam in Like Crazy. Needless to say, I was more than excited to see her truly show off her talents in The Hunger Games.
The film’s fate rests on her shoulders for the very simple reason that if the audience doesn’t connect with her, they won’t connect with the film (and there goes the millions Lionsgate was hoping for). To play Katniss Jennifer Lawrence had to be so many things: strong, determined, clever, and, hardest of all, constantly conflicted and broken. And she did it, all while fighting for her life. From the very first shot, the audience connects with her: Katniss is woken by the desperate screams of her little sister, Prim, and reaches to comfort her. Katniss is introduced to the audience as a person who loves others more than herself, a protector. This will be her role throughout the rest of the film, and Jennifer Lawrence portrays this in such an organic way that one never feels as if Katniss is a one-dimensional badass. Her facial expressions never go to waste, and she has this ability to draw the viewer in, when she is on the screen, you cannot help but watch her.
This isn’t to say that the rest of the cast isn’t great, because they are. Lenny Kravitz as Cinna and Amandla Sternberg as Rue were two of my absolute favorites. It is impossible not to identify with their characters, particularly during their interactions with Katniss. (Mark my words, Amandla Sternberg will do GREAT things.) Still, with this film, Jennifer Lawrence has proved that she is deserving of every bit of praise and buzz thrown her way. I can’t wait to see what she does next!