First movie in series leaves editor hungry for more

I don’t always review movies, but when I do I make sure it’s “The Hunger Games.”

Yes, I am one of those obsessed readers who counted down the months, weeks, days, hours and eventually minutes until the movie’s midnight release on Friday.

I even re-read the book in anticipation last week, and fidgeted in my seat four two hours as I waited for the movie to start promptly at 12:02 a.m.

And it absolutely lived up to my expectations.

“The Hunger Games” tells the story of 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen – played by Jennifer Lawrence. She lives in poverty with her mother and sister in a futuristic country called Panem.

The country is made up of a capital city – called the Capitol – and 12 outlying districts.

Every year, the Capitol hosts a gory spectacle called The Hunger Games, which is meant to serve as a reminder to the districts not to rebel – something that didn’t turn out so well for the districts the last time.

Two children, one male and one female, from each district are randomly chosen to compete in the games, where they must fight to the death until one victor remains.

The victor scores food for the all of the citizens of his or her district for one year, until the next Hunger Games.

When Katniss’ sister, Prim – played by Willow Shields – is chosen to compete in the games, Katniss doesn’t hesitate to volunteer in Prim’s place. She asks her best friend, Gale – played by Liam Hemsworth – to take care of her mother and Prim as she and  classmate Peeta Mellark – played by Josh Hutcherson – compete in the games and stir up more than a little trouble in the Capitol.

It doesn’t usually take three paragraphs to explain the basic plot of a movie, which is part of the reason why this piece was so fantastically put together.

Though subtle differences exist between the book and the movie, as in any film adaptation, director Gary Ross did a fantastic job of weaving the intricate design of a plot that is “The Hunger Games” into this beautiful tapestry of a movie.

He didn’t change anything major, which is great for those who enjoy movies that accurately portray the novel.

However, I am not one of those people. I liked this movie less because it was well-adapted, and more because it was a really good movie on its own.

All of the acting was superb – in fact, better than I expected – but the gold medal definitely goes to Stanley Tucci for his supporting role as Caesar Flickerman, the game-show host of the Hunger Games.

I have been a Tucci fan since his role as Nigel in “The Devil Wears Prada” in 2006, but I think this is his best performance yet. He brings Flickerman to life in a way I never expected from Tucci, and yet I couldn’t picture the character any other way.

His perfectly styled blue hair and blinding white smile completely stole the show.

Another aspect that made “The Hunger Games” a fantastic movie was the humor that Ross weaved in throughout the film.

Lines from characters like Effie Trinket, played by Elizabeth Banks, and Haymitch Abernathy, played by Woody Harrelson, had the midnight audience shouting with laughter.

And speaking of shouting – how could a movie ever go wrong with such a “Twilight”-esque love triangle? The movie’s one kiss had the audience completely up in arms in a good way – at least for the Peeta-lovers.

Though I think Ross could have played it up a little further, it was crystal clear that Katniss was – or at least will be – at a crossroads when she has to decide between Gale, her best friend, played by Liam Hemsworth; and Peeta, the boy with the bread, played by Josh Hutcherson.

That’s not to say, though, that it was without flaw. I think the biggest problem with the movie is that it moved too fast.

While it’s understandable that a film with so much material to cover would move quickly, it still could have used another 20 to 30 minutes of screen time.

That’s why, when I go again, I want to see “The Hunger Games” with someone who hasn’t read the book. I want to know how easy it is for them to follow it, and how much of Panem’s back story they were able to understand.

Another small flaw I found in the movie was that, many times, the camera is still moving when the audience is trying to focus on something. That made some scenes not only difficult to see clearly, but hard to understand.

When the camera is moving, the audience can’t get a clear picture of what’s happening – and in a movie like “The Hunger Games,” it’s important that the audience knows what’s going on.

But these minute details are easily overlooked. Overall, I think this movie deserves an A-plus.

Now it’s only about two more years until the hungry fans can get their hands on the sequel, “Catching Fire.”



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