Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Culture Shock: What I've Been Watching: The Hunger Games (2012)

As a self-confessed fan of all films fantasy (Twilight, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Avatar etc...) I was surprised that I was patient enough to wait to watch The Hunger Games until it came live on Sky Box Office. However, once it was available for purchase this Sunday just gone, I was one of the first to buy the film. I settled down with my blanket and a Galaxy chocolate skinny latte and got ready to be wowed.

*She so pwetty. She's also one of my body idols.*

For me, I think it is really important to watch a film adaptation before you read the book it was adapted from if you can help it, solely because I had always found adaptations to be disappointed with adaptations. At least if you watch the film first then you stand a better chance of enjoying it without the restrictions of comparison running through your brain. So before you ask, no, I haven't read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins just yet. But it is definitely on my list.

Anyway, back onto the film.

I was so on-the-fence about The Hunger Games at the beginning. Although the film is opened by a captioned blurb in order to set the scene in time, location and context, I found myself lost through the majority of it. Unexplained flashbacks, seemingly significant glances between characters and inhuman brutality throughout just put me in such a weird state of confusion that I struggled at time to concentrate on even the basics of the plot. This continued for the first half hour.

From what I can understand, the film is set in some sort of North American nation in the future (in spite of the archaic experiences which the characters go through such as bathing in a tub of cold water, next-to-no access to technology and hobbies such as hunting with a bow and arrow) where there are twelve different 'districts' surrounding one Capitol. As a punishment to the poor districts for attempting a rebellion years earlier, the Capitol forces each district to select one boy and one girl  between the ages 12 and 18 each year by a random lottery to compete in a brutal version of the Olympics, whereby they must be let go into an 'arena' which is basically like a big huge forest. In order to win, they must kill one another until the final child, or 'tribute', standing wins. The District 12 lottery chooses Primrose Everdeen. However, he older sister Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers in her place and becomes a 'tribute' with fellow District 12er Peeta Mellark.

The rest is history really! There is a bit of action, a bit of romance, a few father issues, a LOT of bravery and generally a very Darwin-esque approach.

After watching for a little while, I started to understand the plot slightly better because I just let go of my preconceptions about how unrealistic the whole idea was. I mean, isn't that the whole point of fantasy? To let you invest yourself in a different world, to escape from reality.

The casting was generally brilliant, especially with Jennifer Laurence able to play the most kick-ass babe in the games. Similarly, her little ally Rue (played by Amandla Stenberg) gave me an awesome sense of girl power and how if we are united we can conquer the world! I also really liked Lenny Kravitz in the slightly camp role of 'stylist' Cinna, and Stanley Tucci (perhaps better known from The Devil Wears Prada, Easy A, Burlesque and The Lovely Bones amongst others...) as bitchy broadcast host Caesar Flickerman. The one-to-watch for me in this film is Elizabeth Banks in the role of Effie Trinket who is a control-freak, image-obsessed, optimist. Although some might say the role is slightly over-acted I saw a lot of Wicked's Madame Morrible in her performance and as a Wicked-fanatic I really couldn't complain!

Although they may find the plot a bit too fluffy, I think tech-y film fans might like this one, because the range of shots and sound techniques is really quite impressive, even for those of us who know nothing whatsoever about film.

This is a film which takes a lot of concentration, but is well worth the effort. I even found myself mentally cheering the tributes on and having a bit of a lump in my throat during a couple of different stages throughout. However, I was expecting something I would be a little MORE passionate about, like Avatar where I cried like a baby or Harry Potter where I was literally sat on the edge of my seat, or Twilight where I spent many a night dreaming about my very own forbidden-romance vampire-lover... But The Hunger Games is a good film nonetheless. Even if I do feel like there are bits I missed... maybe I'll have to watch it again.

Have you seen The Hunger Games? Which other films would you compare it with? Do you like watching film adaptations of books?

Love and snuggles


  1. I LOVE the Hunger Games! I read the books about a year or so before the film came out and was disappointed by the film (as tends to be the case if you ever read the books before!)
    I'd definitely recommend the books, they're A LOT more gruesome, more shocking and very well written for YA fiction. There's one particular part at the end of the first book that made me feel sick with emotion and anger which the producers chose not to include in the film. I won't ruin it for you but there are lots of small things like this within the book which the film misses out, meaning it lacks depth.
    Great review - I couldn't agree more with most of it!

    1. I am going to start reading the first book TODAY, on your recommendation! I might even post a book review about it... I'm so sorry it took me so long to get back to you on this comment.