The odds are ever in the “Games”‘ favor: A review
March 28, 2012
Filed under Currents
I never imagined I would be so invested in another worldwide addiction to a film franchise based on a book series at 22 years old. I was obsessed with “Harry Potter,” but now I have a new mega-addiction that showed up nearly overnight: “The Hunger Games.”
“The Hunger Games” book trilogy is being compared to the Harry Potter and Twilight fame, but this time, the craziness seems to be exploding past these film franchises. The screen adaptation of the first book was released at midnight on March 23 and grossed $214.3 million worldwide ($155 million from North American sales) during the opening weekend, according to Reuters.
The film broke numerous records for opening weekend ticket sales, including the highest film sales for a spring release and the third highest opening weekend sales ever in Hollywood next to the final film of the “Harry Potter” series and “The Dark Knight,” according to an article in The New York Times.
For those who are not completely engrossed in the first book and film, “The Hunger Games” involves a futuristic society split into 12 districts controlled by the Capitol.
Each year, to keep the citizens of the districts from uprising, the Capitol hosts a televised “battle to the death” reality show, starring 24 children from the ages of 12 to 18 — a boy and a girl from each district — in a Capitol-controlled arena.
I was instantly hooked after watching the film’s trailer 20 times and reading the first book in a single night.
My interest then morphed into a super obsession after spending 10 hours in the cold outside of Mall of America to get a wristband for a meet and greet with six of the cast members of the first film. I ended up meeting the cast, including the extremely beautiful and my new (imaginary) girlfriend, Jennifer Lawrence.
My obsession peaked while I was walking into the movie theater last weekend. This film was by far the best adaptation I have seen of a book. I cried during a few dramatic death scenes, and I nearly wet myself from pure shock during the last few heart-stopping scenes. Even the tweens sitting near me could not break my death stare from the screen.
Film adaptations have been increasingly accurate and true to the books throughout the blockbusters released in the last decade, and this film is no exception. Minus a few minor details that would be too hard to explain within this review, the film was very true to the book, which made me — and I am sure thousands of others — very happy.
The first 15 minutes of the film were the worst because of the extreme shake of the camera. It did not bother me as much, but I have talked to numerous people who said they felt nauseous because of it.
There were a few things I think could have been improved besides the nausea-inducing first few scenes.
First, a more extreme portrayal of the Capitol and its residents betting on who would die in the games — I despised those people so much in the book. Also, more about President Snow, the leader of the Capitol, and Caesar Flickerman, host of the reality show who broadcasts the massacre on television could have been a lot crazier to match the book better.
Second, the relationships between the main character Katniss Everdeen, who volunteers to compete in the Hunger Games to save her younger sister, and her close friend Gale and her mother would have created a better connection between the characters. Instead, the film only touches on them and periodically shows the two characters, which really made the dynamic between them fall apart.
Other than those suggestions, the film was filled with a great cast that fit the characters in the books very well. When I was at the question and answer session at Mall of America, the cast members all mentioned that they were avid readers of the trilogy. I believe that made them much better actors because they really cared about their characters and made sure to portray them in a way that connected to the book.
I am currently trying to find time to go see the film again, and I recommend it to anyone who wants action, romance, a good cry and a great film adaptation that truly respects the work of the author. The film’s trailer says, “The games will change everyone,” and I definitely felt moved after seeing the film.