THE HUNGER GAMES (PG13)
Genre: Action/Drama/Fantasy/Science Fiction
Release Date: 23 March 2012
Running Time: 142 minutes
Distributor: Nusantara Edaran Filem (studio: Liosgate)
Director: Gary Ross
Screenplay: Suzanne Collins, Gary Ross, Billy Ray
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemswoth, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz
Plot: Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the evil Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games. A twisted punishment for a past uprising and an ongoing government intimidation tactic, The Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which "Tributes" must fight with one another until one survivor remains. Pitted against highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives, Katniss is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch Abernathy. If she's ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love. REVIEWS AFTER THE JUMP
Riding high this weekend is the undisputed hit-in-the-making adaptation of the first chapter of the best-selling trilogy. ‘The Hunger Games’ is no doubt the biggest and the most anticipated movie of this quarter of the year; featuring the ever slick director Gary Ross (Seabiscuit) and a bunch of interesting casting that includes Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson and Woody Harrelson. The release of several trailers has also sold me in on top of the ways the studio pushed for aggressively marketing were both intriguing and has the epic written all over it. However, does the final product come out as what we have previously thought or it bogged down by some unforeseen misses? It depends.
Every year, the Capitol of the nation of Panem organized The Hunger Games. On surface, it is an annual pageant and survival competition that enforces each of its twelve districts to send a “tribute” consisting of a teenage boy and girl, aged between 12 and 18 to compete. However, the truth behind this is to serve as both punishment and reminder for the present about the past failed revolution. The Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which all 24 tributes will fight till their death until only one survivor emerges as the champion. For the more developed and richer districts, it would be an honour for the tributes to represent their districts but for the others, it is a curse.
In District 12, sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) takes a full responsible for her family ever since her father died in a mine accident few years back. Since 12, she repeatedly placed her name into the reaping bowl hoping that one day she would be picked to represent District 12. Her sister, Prim, now age 12, has her name placed in the reaping for the first time but ended having her name called - unexpectedly. Katniss volunteers to replace her sister and along Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson), they are the tributes for District 12. Before the Hunger Games begin, she is given a stylist, Cinna (Lenny Kravitz), and a Capitol escort, Effie (Elizabeth Banks), to help her make a good impression with potential sponsors. Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson), a drunk and the only living victor from District 12, mentors both Katniss and Peeta before and during the Hunger Games. Once in the arena, Katniss must rely on her hunting skills, stealth, speed, and wits to survive.
In one general assessment, “The Hunger Games” is a good and decent movie that does below my expectation. While there are plenty of stuffs to cheer about, this movie adaptation of one of the best-selling novel has never been able to shake and avoid itself from having plenty of misses at the same time. It is decent but it does not carry the epic on its own.
The real weight lies on the fluidity of the plot, the mechanics and the elements defining the main theme. This movie moves in two distinctive parts; plot construction and plot execution. The realistic approach for honesty and emotion are captured in the construction phase for which I thought has served a good impression on how this epic battle would be. The high-concept and back-story are well explained and the true brutal are teased well.
Gary Ross’ ability to steer this movie is pretty slick despite his lack of experience in handling big live-action films. Despite handling only ‘Pleasantville’ and ‘Seabiscuit’ in the past, Ross turns this movie not into an action-driven film with recognizable faces, but a pure examination of human nature and raw emotion that tests the burden of authoritarian oppressions. In other words, it acts as a balanced drama with character judging and outpour of characteristics. It does not resort to violence to explain the cause and outcome. Instead, the movie runs freely to show the realistic world. As an emotional drama, it works somehow. As the construction phase goes, it seems all in place for an epic finale.
However, there is a sense of plot dragging been so imminent. Clocking at around 142 minutes, ‘The Hunger Games‘ moves around at a slow pace, thus, it feels over-long. It is a shame that the tone of the plot does not continue beyond when the real ‘Hunger Game’ begins. Unfortunately, what we see in ‘The Hunger Games’ is a prime result that abandons the true nature of any brutal survival competition. It comes to a very disappointing fact that the film-maker chose a “tamer” competition that does not reflect the level of realism and high ambitious theme it supposed to carry. It is still left with mercy as at times, some breath-taking action scenes come too scarcely in between. Alas, “The Hunger Games” does not possess much more thrillers than we have already seen from the trailers.
I suspect that in order to escape the R-rating (or 18 in Malaysia), Ross decided to cut down those to minimal. Now that the blood-bath is reduced to a mere dizzying cognitive experience, no thanks to the very shaky camera-work, one should know that by submitting the kids for a brutal survival game is already an act of violence itself. What is wrong with pushing for a bloodier fight? Now do not go make an assumption that I am a sadistic that prefers ‘300’-styles for this because I am not. Let things go down to its proper visualization because The Hunger Games sounds more like a swashbuckling, stabbing and beating competition that to avoid these (Now I do not recall where Peeta get a sword slash on his thigh?)
Besides the ample amount of reflective emotion has thrown in the movie, one cannot be more amazed by how the characters work. The central character, Katniss played by the Oscar-nominated Jennifer Lawrence is an engaging set of people that consistently sells the movie. True to whom she is, Lawrence’s presence in the movie is more of a vibe than merely a candy for the movie. She serves her purpose well and in fact, she embodies the character like the way we have imagined from the book. It is interesting to see her trading the typical character expectations with Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) as the latter seems to need more protection from the other. Hutcherson is not really my top choice for this role but I am happy that he does his well. The major disappointment would be the lack of significant presences for Gale (Liam Hemsworth), supposedly the best friend of Katniss. For most part of this movie, seeing how people dress reminds me about time-travelling – serious.
In a nutshell, ‘The Hunger Games’ is a well-acted, well-scripted and well-emotionally-fuelled drama on authority oppressions. It has the potential to branch into more ambitious, daring motivation, political and romantic sub-plots in the future. However, its lacks of the brutality in this one annual survivor competition fails to justify the epic scale and the seriousness of the events leading up to the execution of ‘The Hunger Games’.