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Teen Movie Critic - V

The Hunger Games

by

Jeff Nelson

The film definitely has its share of flaws, but it's an overall solid motion picture.

The Hunger Games
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After the dreadful Twilight films were released, the tweens became obsessed with not only the story, but the main characters. To be quite honest, the series is awful, yet it received a lot of popularity and a large amount of money. The Hunger Games also originated from a book and is now being adapted into a feature film. I haven't read any of the books, but the fact it was being adapted certainly had me skeptical. Some audiences have been already calling this the next Twilight. This definitely had me rolling my eyes. The last thing the movie industry needs is another piece of garbage series to ruin a sub-genre. However, as more information regarding the cast and whatnot were released, it sparked my interest a little bit. Putting the cast aside, the story is extremely familiar. Those who enjoy these type of survival flicks will know very well what movie I am talking about. It's a Japanese film called Battle Royale. It's a brutal flick that is finally getting some recognition in America, however The Hunger Games has a lot of similar notes. Does it live up to the hype that it has been receiving or is it just another unfortunate tween craze?

In a distopian future ruled by a totalitarian regime, resourceful Katniss and her partner Peeta represent their district in the lethal Hunger Games. This is a televised survival competition in which teenage contestants hunt each other to the death. Only one can survive the match. Sounds extremely close to Battle Royale. While it borrows a lot of material, The Hunger Games brings plenty to the table. The beginning of the film is utilized to introduce the characters and constantly inform us of The Hunger Games and what the significance of it all is. After all of this backstory is put aside, we're left with a large amount of action and the film doesn't let up much until the ending. I was also doubtful about this motion picture because it possesses a PG-13 rating. If I'm watching a story of people fighting to the death, how can the camera capture very much of the action? The Hunger Games is surprisingly brutal for a PG-13 movie. It's not extremely violent, but there are a few deaths that I'm surprised the MPAA didn't tackle the movie for. The brutality is placed tastefully though, so it shouldn't be too much of a problem for younger audiences. When it comes to the dialogue, the movie is solid. Katniss is definitely a character I was able to root for and her dialogue shapes the role. You know all of those crazy action flicks where the hero is always invincible and never really appears to be in danger? Where people are shooting at them and they manage to dodge every bullet? Toss those expectations out the window. The Hunger Games provides us with a more believable central character that is very mortal and actually gets injured. I found myself caring a lot about her character and genuinely wanting her to pull through. The tension increases when a character people enjoy is in actual danger. To be honest, I'm surprised that there's an actual decent script here. The running time is a bit long, but I never felt bored or that it was being stretched to fill that time frame. The Hunger Games flows from start to finish and is surprisingly exciting along the way.

As mentioned in my introduction, one of the main reasons I wanted to check this movie out is the cast. When I say the cast, I primarily am talking about the main actress. Jennifer Lawrence plays Katniss Everdeen. Lawrence has proven that she can play a variety of characters that are completely different from each other. She has pulled it off yet again in the character of Katniss. She's very convincing in this role, whether she's having a heartfelt moment with her sister or is running around the battlefield trying to survive. Lawrence delivers dialogue very naturally and has genuinely aided in bringing a role to life that the audience will be able to get behind and root for. Josh Hutcherson performs as the other person chosen from Katniss's district, Peeta Mellark. While he shine as bright as Jennifer Lawrence, he delivers an alright performance. He fits the character and provides enough believability in Peeta's moral standing on the situation. Elizabeth Banks is almost unrecognizable as Effie Trinket. Banks is decent in the role, although she doesn't receive very much screen time. However, her character has a few moments of comic relief, which she pulls of marvelously. There aren't any Oscar-winning performances here, but the entire cast has created a enjoyable set of characters. Jennifer Lawrence shines in the role of Katniss Everdeen and I'm sure this film will do nothing but boost her popularity. She's finally receiving the attention from Hollywood and moviegoers that she has deserved for quite some time now.

One of the biggest reasons why I was surprised by The Hunger Games is that it actually is able to create some tension. It's highly entertaining with actual substance behind it. Despite the fact that this isn't a pure blooded action flick, it blends the genres of action and drama well. All of the special effects and make-up work is very well done. Unfortunately, the handheld camera didn't always work. There are a few sequences where it's difficult to even see what's going on due to how shaky some scenes become. Fortunately, this doesn't occur too often, but it happens a couple times and is all too noticeable. This only occurs a couple times because the picture takes a different approach than just fight scenes. That would become stale all too quickly. Instead, there are a lot more strategic ways some of these tributes battle. It makes for a more interesting and tense feature. In order to receive the full experience, I recommend audiences to go to a theater with a strong sound system. The bass and the surrounds are very well-mixed and is the cherry on top in immersing the viewers into the world of The Hunger Games.

After all my trash talk, I will happily eat my words on what I have said over the past few months regarding The Hunger Games. It's a good movie that immerses its audience and doesn't let go until the credits are rolling. Fortunately, this is a film that both males and females will enjoy. There's something here for everybody. I haven't read the books, so I cannot speak about how strong of adaptation it is, so I'm only speaking on the quality of what's on the screen. The Hunger Games takes a lot from Battle Royale, although this is a much more tame version with a bunch of story alterations. Calling this movie similar to Twilight is an absolute insult to The Hunger Games. This movie actually respects its audience and provides us with a decent script, solid acting, and great visual effects. Even though this movie runs a little long for this type of motion picture, it's still extremely entertaining. The Hunger Games turned out much better than I thought it would. The film definitely has its share of flaws, but it's an overall solid motion picture. I'm actually looking forward to the sequel, but I can only hope that it will be as gripping as the first.

My Rating = Four Stars

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