The Hunger Games

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The Hunger Games
Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the 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.

Sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen volunteers in her younger sister’s place to enter the games, and is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch Abernathy when she’s pitted against highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives. 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.

Review

Set in the futuristic and post-apocalyptic North American country of Panem, 'The Hunger Games' is a twisted sci-fi story of hope and rebellion adapted from the Suzanne Collins's book series of the same title. Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) and Peeta Mellark (Hutcherson) are two of the twenty-four 'tributes' selected from the youth of Panem's twelve districts and forced to fight to the death in a televised event sponsored by their own government. An unlikely favourite to emerge as the sole survivor, Katniss soon wins over the hearts of the nation and fellow competitors, much to the disappointment of the Capitol.

Successful books have no chance of staying away from the silver screen these days, and with a reader fan base like that of the 'Hunger Games' series, the pressure to deliver well on the film adaptation is of 'Harry Potter'-scale proportion. Luckily for director Gary Ross, he succeeds in staying true to the book's storyline (there are minor adjustments but no glaring changes) while also maintaining its hopeful theme amidst dark and desperate times. Lawrence, Hutcherson, and Hemsworth each give strong performances and should have no problem convincing audiences that they were solid casting choices for the latest instant blockbuster franchise.

From the die-hard book fan to the casual moviegoer, 'The Hunger Games' will surely draw in large audiences, but more importantly, it will send them back home excited for the second instalment of the trilogy.

Upsides:
-Jennifer Lawrence is immediately believable and likeable as Katniss.
-Ross balances the fantastic and futuristic settings with exciting and realistic camera work so that nothing becomes laughable or too over-the-top.
-Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Elizabeth Banks, Lenny Kravitz, and Donald Sutherland are seasoned vets who work well with the relatively new crop of Hollywood's elite in Lawrence, Hutcherson, and Hemsworth.

Downsides:
-Katniss's internal struggle with manipulating the emotions of Panem's TV viewers, Peeta, and her best friend Gale (Hemsworth) could have been developed further.