‘Hunger Games’ will satisfy fans and newcomers

By Glenn Battishill

“The Hunger Games” is the adaptation of the first in the hugely popular series of young adult fiction books. It takes place in a dystopian future where the North American continent has been devastated by some unknown catastrophe.

The nation of Panem is comprised of 13 districts and a Capitol. Each district is charged with producing a set of materials or minerals for the Capitol and after a bloody war resulted in the destruction of District 13 the Capitol has been forcing each district to send one boy and girl teenager to fight to the death in an arena until only one remains.

The story follows District 12 resident, Katniss Everdeen played by Jennifer Lawrence, as the 74th Hunger Games are about to begin.

Her sister is selected to go to the arena but in an unprecedented move of courage, she volunteers to take her place.

She and fellow tribute, Peeta Melark (Josh Hutcherson,) are whisked off to the Capitol to train and promote themselves for the games.

There is a lot of internal mythology at work in this film but as someone whose read the book, it was nice to have some of the smaller aspects of the book fleshed out.

Assisting Katniss and Peeta in their training is Haymitch Abernathy, a former victor played by Woody Harrelson, who drinks more than he does anything helpful.

The first half of the movie is spent with Katniss and Peeta training and doing interviews in the Capitol. One aspect of the games that the movie focuses on is Katniss and Peeta making themselves more likable to get outsiders to “sponsor” them in the games. Soon after learning the importance of sponsors the tributes from all the districts are dumped in the arena and the fun begins.

“The Hunger Games” is a hard movie to discuss because fans of the books will have no problem following along, but I can see nonfans would find the story slow and possibly hard to swallow.

The cast is the movies strong point and everyone is well suited to their roles, even Lenny Kravitz.

Lawrence is an instant star and Hutcherson seems to have grown up since his earlier movies.

Woody Harrelson is a lot of fun and very enjoyable to watch.

Liam Hemsworth doesn’t get enough screen time but still manages to convey emotion in the brief scenes the audience has with him.

Easily the best part of the movie though is Stanley Tucci’s Caesar Flickerman. Flickerman is the announcer for the games and steals every scene he is in.

The biggest surprise for me, though, was Wes Bentley’s character, Seneca Crane. Crane is mostly just mentioned in the book but serves as the director of The Hunger Games, mostly standing in the control room altering the arena to make the games more interesting.

The book is narrated in the first person so there is a lot of exposition that the movie needs to cram in but it does it nicely with Tucci and Bentley. The scenes of Bentley directing the events of the games are some of the most interesting in the film.

The movie does ask the audience to swallow a lot sometimes. Like why are the costumes crazy; why is a deathmatch between an 18-year-old man and a 13-year-old girl considered a fair fight; and why do the soldiers of the Capitol even bother to wear armor?

The biggest complaint regarding the movie is the direction on account of Gary Ross, who previously directed “Seabiscuit.” The movie utilizes way, way, way, way, way too much hand held shots with the camera and the result is not only distracting but occasionally nauseating.

It’s pretty frustrating too, because “The Hunger Games” could be an amazing movie with an epic story and breathtaking action but it’s direction shoots the movie in the kneecap. There’s an action sequence towards the end that should have had a lot of weight and emotion in it but because the camera can’t seem to hold still, the audience can’t tell who they’re supposed to be rooting for.

Overall the story makes a good transition from book to film and fans will not be disappointed. For nonfans, the acting and story should be sufficient motivation to see the movie even if it doesn’t live up to the enormous hype behind it.