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article imageReview: The odds are in ‘Hunger Games’ favor Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Mar 22, 2012 in Entertainment
‘The Hunger Games’ is based on the first book in Suzanne Collins’ trilogy about a dystopian world in which children are forced to fight to the death in an annual competition.
The phenomenon surrounding the release of The Hunger Games is akin to the mania that accompanied the opening of Twilight. The Canadian premiere in Toronto screened in three theatres to accommodate the hundreds of enthusiasts and stargazers longing to see three of the young male stars of the film who were also in attendance. In the end, the best part of this experience, and the biggest takeaway, was the film lived up to the hype as well as the expectations established by the book on which it's based.
The Hunger Games are a control measure instituted by the Capitol to keep the rebellious spirit of the population under thumb. Every year a boy and girl from each of the 12 districts are randomly selected to represent their area in a fight to the death, which is broadcast nationally for everyone's supposed amusement. When Katniss Everdeen's (Jennifer Lawrence) sister is selected, she instinctively volunteers to take her place. After being paraded around for viewers, the Games are set into motion with only one goal: stay alive.
When compared to the source material, the movie is different but the same. It's obviously condensed, but includes most of the significant events from the original narrative, even if the attention they receive is lessened. The transition from Katniss' internal dialogue to a film that did not require a voiceover to convey the same emotions or thoughts is noteworthy. Much of this is accomplished by taking the viewer outside of the arena during the Games – a perspective not provided in the book – allowing it to become its own entity.
Still, there is an important element lost in the adaptation: the emotional intensity. For a tale in which the majority unfolds under life and death circumstances, it's oddly lacking in extremes. This is no fault of the actors, but is likely better attributed to a script that shies away from the more forceful moments in the book either for time or level of violence. Unfortunately, some of Peeta's more important scenes of character development are also lost in this shuffle.
The cast is impeccable. Each of the actors embodies every aspect of his or her character perfectly. Though Katniss' internal dialogue is removed from the picture, Lawrence uses her eyes to show she's always thinking, considering the angles. Not afraid of silence, she is outstanding in the numerous scenes without words, allowing it to play out through her expressions. Josh Hutcherson's Peeta is the exact mix of sweet, vulnerable and stubborn expected. It's also no mistake Liam Hemsworth was casted in the expanded role of Gale, having already made an impression despite his limited screen time. Woody Harrelson is the ideal choice to portray District 12's alcoholic mentor and Stanley Tucci is exquisite as the flamboyant host.
This is one of those rare occasions in which the film will not suffer in comparison to the book. Extravagant special effects are passed over to give the captivating characters the audience's full attention. Even the picture is often drained of colour, ensuring focus is placed on the people rather than the spectacle. It is that quality of realism that immediately lets viewers connect with Katniss and follow her on this perilous journey.
Director: Gary Ross
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth
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