The Hunger Games (2012)

The best way to have kids learn their lessons fast, is to just put them in a fight to the death. Then they’ll wise up, trust me.

In the story, a dystopic Capitol requires its twelve subjugated districts to pay tribute in the form of a teenage boy and girl who are forced to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. When Katniss Everdeen’s little sister is chosen in the lottery, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to take her place.

I must admit that I have no idea where the hell I was when this book was first published and created all this hype for a flick. However, what I did have an idea about was that it was a hell of a lot cooler and more bad-ass than that ‘Twilight’ garbage and that’s really all that matters.

For the whole first hour, things really weren’t taking off which is a problem, but at the same time I was still interested. I liked the setting this film made where the rich basically got richer and the poor got poorer (which is sort of how it is in today’s society, but you didn’t hear that from me). The setting is here and I felt very intrigued by seeing how these kids all trained for the games, how they got siked up for it, and just how they spent what could be their last days alive. However, the problem with a lot of this is that even though the film has all of this interesting stuff going on right off the bat, the film moves very slow and it’s a tad boring. I won’t sit here and say that I was dozing off at any chance, because my eyes were always watching the screen, but all of the important things said (like what these kids had to say about their lives possibly being put to an end) and important things shown (how these kids were defined by these situations), all sort of went down without any real emotional connection.

After this first hour though, the film really starts to pick up and that’s where Gary Ross‘ sturdy direction really comes into play. Ross has a lot to deal with here such as a big-budget full of eye-catching visuals and CGI effects, plenty of social themes to be shown without seeming to hit us over the head (‘The Lorax’ *cough* *cough*), and a crap load of violence that had to be bearable enough to supply a PG-13 rating but also please the fans of the book that wanna see some gore. Ross is easily up for the challenge by making each of his three different locations (poverty stricken areas, lavish metropolis-like looking buildings, and a forest that isn’t a normal one you would find in your state park) all look beautiful and bring you into this world that seems similar but at the same time feels like something you have never seen before. Ross is also a great action director because he’s great at speeding up the camera just when he wants to and bring some intensity to the scenes but is also able to slow it down and give us one of the better “trip scenes” that I’ve seen in quite some time. It’s nothing spectacular or different that Ross is doing here but he seems pretty comfortable having to deal with so much pressure and so much money on just one movie by getting it done in a way that would both make regular movie-goers happy but die hards of the book as well. Good job Gary!

I also have to say for a film that has a premise where a bunch of kids are going around hacking each other to death all for their government, the film keeps the violence pretty toned down. There isn’t that much blood, there’s hardly any gore, and the violence is usually sped up so fast that you can barely make out what’s going on but when it does happen, it’s pretty disturbing. It definitely deserved it’s PG-13 rating but I can tell you that there are some stuff here that you’ll see that are pretty hard to watch but feels right to the story. It also may show us where I world is running towards with richer people looking for more entertainment in the ways of watching the lesser people practically kill each other, so you better all start working on your fighting and hunting skills.

My key problems with this film are just from a person who didn’t read the book, and probably didn’t fully “get it” like so many of you probably reading this did. Example numero uno is the whole love story between Katniss and Peeta. First off it all came off as forced, which at first was the intention but then it started becoming serious and that’s where I didn’t buy it. It practically comes out of nowhere and even when it does come around, the film makes it seem like these two kids have so much more to win for other than their lives, they also have their love. Maybe there was something that made more sense that I didn’t read but it just didn’t lock me in and have me believe in these two characters any more than I already did. Also, the little “love triangle” between these two and Gale (a totally underused Liam Hemsworth) didn’t draw me in mainly because it was too underdeveloped and didn’t really do anything for me either.

What sold me on this film though was the key performance from Jennifer Lawrence who is nothing but spectacular as Katniss Everdeen. This chick is endearing enough to where you can feel for her character, believable enough to not only make you feel for her character but also make it seem like she’s just an ordinary girl put into a real shitty situation such as this, a little smart assy to have you feel like she always has something witty to say, but also very tough where you think that she can win these “Hunger Games” and fend for herself even when things really seem like their going South for her. Lawrence gives a very well-rounded performance and doesn’t make this just seem like another character drawn right from the book, but an actual human being put into a life and death situation such as this. If ‘Winter’s Bone’ didn’t make her a star, then this definitely will and I’m glad that is the case.

As for everybody else, they are all pretty amazing too. Josh Hutcherson looks and fits the role as Peeta, and has you believe that this kid is always one step ahead of everyone else; Elizabeth Banks was goofy and flamboyant as Effie; Wes Bentley finally comes back from the dead (or wherever the hell he’s been since ‘American Beauty’) here as Seneca and gives a pretty solid performance even though he is upstaged by his awesomely-drawn tattoo/beard he’s got going on here; Woody Harrelson gives his usual witty but seasoned role as Haymitch; Lenny Kravitz was surprisingly very good as Cinna even though I had a feeling he was going to break out into “Are You Gonna Go My Way?”, which would have been perfectly suitable for the action scenes; and Stanley Tucci steals the show as Caesar Flickerman, the totally goofy-looking and smiley talk show host that seems to always be winning the crowd over, even though he’s a total cheese ball.

The only cast member that I thought was pretty lame was Alexander Ludwig as Cato. I don’t think it was necessarily Ludwig who played this character wrong it was just that the film basically made him out to be the most dangerous person in the whole “Hunger Games” and when they actually start, he’s pretty much absent from everything and has Seneca do more work for him. Then again though, I don’t think he was “the real enemy”………

Consensus: The Hunger Games probably would have been a lot better for me have I previously read the book, but without that, it features an inspired direction from Gary Ross, a great cast that all work wonders with their parts (especially Lawrence), and will be able to provide enough adventure, pathos, action, and themes for anybody who are big fans but also for people who just want a teen novel adaption that’s a hell of a lot better than those ‘Twilight’ pieces of shite.



  1. I did feel a disconnect with the movie even though I read the book. I believe they could have added to that, given us more in the beginning and expressed how hard it is to change from being loving to becoming a killer. But overall I enjoyed it.

  2. Despite a few issues that the film had (especially to people who haven’t read the books like me), it is still largely entertaining. And I can only see the sequels getting better.

  3. Like you, I must have been on some other planet when the book came out, as I had no clue what all the fuss what about when talk of the movie started. 😀 Also, I am no fan of “young adult novels” as tween books are called these days. That said, your review makes the movie sound at least sit-throughable, so I may give it a shot. Thanks! 🙂

  4. I agree it’s better than Twilight… but not as good as Harry Potter o.O

    I think the love triangle with Gale and Peeta is reserved for future sequels, they need to build it up slowly!

  5. I heard a lot of very mixed reviews from fellow critics, and mostly negative ones from people who hadn’t read the books, but I’m interested to see it since it’s such a pop culture phenomenon.

  6. Thanks for reading! I agree with you about Gary Ross’ good job and the lack of ‘real’ chemistry with Katniss and Peeta…the change was too hurried.
    The violence is toned down to the book…but Katniss’ character goes way beyond that off the film….I can’t recommend the books highly enough!

  7. I read all the books however the person I went with hadn’t. She enjoyed it equally to me. I think you are more attached and devoted to the story because you read the books. But all in all Gary Ross did a good job but the real props go to the actors and the screenwriters. Each actor filled the part perfectly how I saw it in my head when I read it. If I had to change anything it would have been the camera work during the fight scenes. Too much whipping around for me. but true to the book and extremely enjoyable

  8. Hey Dan! Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I agree in some of your points but I believe that it’s needed for them to take the “Peeta-Katniss-Gale” love triangle slowly. It’s not something like Twilight which made the love story seem to rushed and I could guarantee you that the story gets better as it progresses. 🙂

  9. Great Review! I’m interested to see if you read the book, what you would think about certain parts of the film that you didn’t like…. And don’t worry about a love triangle, it’s present but thats never what the story is about in the next 2 books!

  10. I REALLY enjoyed your review! I love how you describe the first hour of the movie – so true how it was slow and boring (although much like you, I didn’t stop watching!). I think I was better able to appreciate Gary Ross’s direction by reading your review as well. I was a bit irritated by the speeding up of the fight scenes and jolted camera angles and such, but I feel like you have defended Ross’s artistic perspective very well through your explication. I also agree so much with you about the characterization lacking, especially compared to the books. It just left me wanting so much more and I wish they would have better utilized that first hour for that rather than retelling the history over and over. Thanks so much for visiting my blog and commenting on my little review. I really appreciate it and am going to link to yours up if that’s ok. If you have any problem with that, let me know and I can take it down. THANKS AGAIN! 🙂

  11. Great review. I agree with most of what you said. However, I really liked the world building aspects of the first hour. Personally, it was enough to sustain my interest in the film. Also, the love story between Katniss and Peeta came across as more of a survival instinct on Katniss’ part rather than true love, and it seemed like she was pretty much done with him after the game ended.

  12. Twilight, Harry Potter and Hunger Games, all of which I would still prefer reading it through the books. The films for it is another way to expand my imagination and put it on a big screen though it doesn’t always go how I picture it, hence the disappointment.

    The Hunger Games though, addresses another issue all together. Something which makes us think of humility and cruelty, and those as mentioned in your post. Don’t understand why some people disliked the movie because of there wasn’t much gore/actions. *shrugs*

  13. I liked your review a lot! I’m looking forward to seeing this one, even though I haven’t read the books either! I’ll review it myself when I’ve seen it!

  14. The love triangle is almost non-exsistent in the film (and book itself) because Katniss has never had the time in her life to think about boys and love and all that because she had to take care of the family. It becomes a bigger deal (unfortunately IMHO) in the next book when Katniss has time to digest her feelings. The one thing I thought they glossed over which always struck me as interesting is that you can put your name in the reaping more often if you need food/clothes/etc… The price is you might be killed by those you are borrowing from. That could have been a point to hammer home a bit more if the movie had the time. Great review and I agree with you fully about Jennifer Lawrence.

    • I didn’t know what they missed or what they hit because I didn’t read the books but they did a great job here and that’s all that matters. Thanks Ryan!

  15. “The Hunger Games probably would have been a lot better for me have I previously read the book” I think that’s a fail on the movie makers’ part. It’s a movie, and it should be able to stand alone as a work of art independent of its source text. It’s a faithful adaptation but I can imagine that some things – key things – definitely did not work for an audience member who hadn’t read the book, and I think that’s quite a pity.

  16. “Wes Bentley finally comes back from the dead (or wherever the hell he’s been since ‘American Beauty’)” xD

    Excellent stuff, Dan.

  17. I did not think the start was slow at all. It built up nicely, IMO. The Katniss/Peeta thing was not transitioned well…I agree. For someone who did not read the books, you were like “huh?” Good review. Thanks for visiting mine. 🙂

  18. You’re right, Kato was poorly cast. I imaged a more brolic type.

    …and yeah, it’s a lot better than “Twilight”.

  19. Great review. Having read the books, I can safely say the things you didn’t feel were developed will be in the second and third films (or however many there will be). I like that you’re not told everything at once, and that it takes for the reader/viewer to invest in certain things i.e. Katniss and Peeta’s relationship, the love triangle.

  20. Dan,

    I agree with a majority of what you’ve said. I’ll disagree a bit with the slowness of the 1st act. I felt as though it was paced a little to quickly. I thought more time could have been spent on establishing the relationship between Katniss and Gale as well as doing more to show how desolate life is in District 12. Of course, I’m saying this based on the world created in the books. The other thing done much better in the books is giving depth to all of the supporting characters, such as Haymitch, Peeta, Gale, Rue, etc. I realize that there’s only so much you can add to a movie that’s already 2.5 hours long, but due to what’s to come in the sequels I think establishing these characters was important.

    Since it now probably seems to most that I disliked the film, I need to say that I truly enjoyed the film and graded it an A-. I think the cast could not have been better put together. I expected the violence in the film to be seriously toned down; surprisingly the violence was mildly toned down and is still very prominent. Jennifer Lawrence carries the film and owns the role of Katniss with great ease. Josh Hutcherson is excellent in the role of Peeta, and in my opinion Woody Harrelson is great and could have been even better if given more screen time.

    November 2013 can’t get here soon enough!!

  21. Nice to hear from someone who hasn’t read the book. I thought Gary Ross did an awesome job, and I totally agree with you about the “tripping” scene. I loved the weird shutter speed effect in it at one point. It’s funny, “21 Jump Street” had a cool trip scene, and now this. It’s something that can easily be done poorly, but in both the movies, it comes off great. Agreed that Cato was laughable. Poor actor

  22. Spot on about Jennifer Lawrence. She does a great job in this movie. I’m hoping that she won’t turn out like Thora Birch though and have one good movie (in Thora’s case American Beauty) and then pretty much fizzle into nothingness.

    For me the movie moved along at just the right pace. In face, when it was over it didn’t feel that long as I was engrossed in the story and picking up the worldbuilding details going on in the background. (That may just be the writer in me talking.)

    As for the love affair with Peeta, looking at only the movie and not the books, which I haven’t read, I thought Katniss was doing it only for the cameras and for the fact that while she likes Peeta, she’s really just doing it to save him, save anyone, after her earlier failure to protect the little girl. When there is a sequel (you know it’s gonna happen) if this angle is pushed I hope the film-makers work it out so that it feels natural.

  23. Great review and solid on most points. I do agree that they kept pretty accurate to the book and that Ross did a great job behind the camera. I’m looking forward to the rest of the series and I’m sure they’ll only make them better. Thanks for the comment and checking out my review!

  24. You made a lot of good points in the review. As a person who has read the books (4 times actually), the movie really was nothing compared to the book, which is how it always is. Also, they did get a lot of scenes wrong. Truthfully, view scenes were correct, like Rue’s death.

    The best part about the movie is the casting, that’s about it. Thank you for writing a truthful review and admitting that you didn’t read the books.

  25. Great review.

    I thought opposite about the pacing as it enables you to get more about the personal stakes for Katniss, the corrupt nature of The Capitol v the Districts and builds a relationship for Katniss and Peeta which didn’t feel phoney.

    I also benefitted from seeing the film first before reading the book and it’s two sequels, but it has prompted me to read all three of the books.

  26. I enjoyed reading a review from the perspective of someone who didn’t read the books. The whole “love triangle” wasn’t really touched upon in the book either, and the relationship between Katniss and Peeta was Katniss pretending, but Peeta being serious. But it still felt really forced and unbelievable in the book too. The comment you have about Cato is true. Even in the book, although there is that whole group of careers, Cato seems to be the number one target as the worse. The overall problem I had with the book, which could translate to some issues with the movie, was that it only really focused on Katniss. I wish the author had written the book in third person instead and focused on other characters as well. It would’ve made it more mysterious and I think it would’ve helped with the movie as well. Great review!

  27. Good review! (: glad you liked my review of the Hunger games as well, yours was clearly more detailed than mine was, but I still enjoyed reading it ((:

  28. i think part of the disconnect was partly because the movie didn’t explain some of the key emotional flashbacks the book probably did (which i haven’t read either). even though i haven’t read the books, i was still engaged int he story was able to piece some things together. but i would like read the book to clear up some things. also, i love a movie with a theme, that has a message. so i liked the lorax and i liked this. a movie, like this, has to be about something more than a plot to put it above the rest. i don’t fault it for that.

  29. As a book-worm watching the film, the romance aspect fitted perfectly with the book. A lot of reviews I have read have mentioned it being underdeveloped, but this really is the tone. We don’t really know if it forced for the Games, if Katniss really does love Gale, or if she genuinely does fall for Peeta.

    I also really apprechiated the work of the director, who did a fantastic job of really adding to the narrative with clever filming techniques. However the £1m budget is really not that huge in comparison to £125m of the final Harry Potter movie! With that taken into the consideration the CGI and camera effects were fantastic.

    Great film review 🙂

  30. Thanks for checking out my review, Dan. It’s nice to see the perspective of someone who hasn’t read the books yet. I agree on most of what you said, especially about Jennifer Lawrence’s solid performance, and Gary Ross’ directing. Great review 🙂

  31. Hey Thanks for checking out my site Dan! It’s great to see so many different reviews out there and yours is no different! I’m glad you enjoyed it as much as I did and I look forward to seeing the sequels!

  32. It’s nice to hear from someone who didn’t read the books. I was on the edge of my seat for the movie, but that is mostly because I knew what was coming and couldn’t wait to see it! Also, I am glad to know that my impression that the romance was a bit confusing wasn’t just the opinion of someone who read the book and wanted to see that put on the screen!

  33. Omg, I could just kiss this review. I like all your reviews, but for some reason I really love how you wrote this one. Is that weird? Maybe. Oh well, whatever, lol.

    I think when the “love” thing got serious between Katniss and Peeta, you had the same problem my one friend who didn’t read had, lol. If you read the book, you could pick up on the implication that Katniss had to really force herself to make it seem randomly serious. In the book there was an abrupt (and unrealistic) shift as well. It’s kind of hard to explain without me being super longwinded about it, so I’m just going to leave it at that, lol.

    The real pleasant surprise for me here (and I forgot to mention it in my own review), but it was Elizabeth Banks. I really like her. Maybe I’m just not aware, but I haven’t seen her in that many roles. I never thought she could pull off Effie though. I mean, the make up helped a lot, but she was just…so different from what I’m used to seeing her as though? And I swear she found a way to change how her voice sounded somehow, lol.

    Anyway again, I love this review. XD If I could like it multiple times, I so would, hahaha. ❤

  34. Great review! I’ve been dying to read a review from the perspective of someone who didn’t read the books because, as someone who did, while watching the movie I definitely had the feeling that the Katniss/Peeta love story was extremely underdeveloped and that people seeing the story unfold for the first time would be confused. In the book, you gradually find out that he’s literally loved her since the day he set eyes on her in kindergarten – and that to him, the “starcrossed lovers” thing isn’t just an act. I thought they totally missed that and that if you didn’t read the book – you would just think Peeta was playing along as well. They cut out a lot of Peeta’s little gestures that show that he loves her in the book without seeming overly forced.

    Besides that, though, I thought the movie was fantastic and one of the best book-to-movie adaptations I’ve ever seen. Gary Ross did a helluva job bringing the world of Panem to life, and every single actor gave an all-star performance. Even 11 year old Willow Shields as Primrose wowed me to tears!

    I can’t believe the sequel isn’t slated to come out until November 2013…

  35. “For the whole first hour, things really weren’t taking off”

    Totally disagree. The scenes at the reaping where the children are selected is so intense with it’s washed out color and dire mood. Then they get to the capital and the pageantry of the whole event, with the production design of the city itself and colorful denizens that lived there was even more fanciful than in the novel. That was the best part for me.

    “…the whole love story between Katniss and Peeta. First off it all came off as forced…”

    There is no love story between Katniss and Peeta (or Gale for that matter) To her they’re both just friends, at least in book one. It came off as forced because it WAS forced. “People want a love story” Haymitch advises them. The kiss and everything else was all just a ruse they played up for the TV cameras so people might want to have 2 winners instead of 1. Obviously it worked.

    We agree on Jennifer Lawrence. She is an incredible actress and her performance really draws you into her plight. Liked the book, but I LOVED the movie. 🙂

  36. Thanks for visiting my blog, reading my review on this movie, and leaving a comment. My reply button is not working so I’m replying here.

    I agree with what you said! It took a while for things to pick up! I hope they could’ve cut more scenes in the first half and focused on the games and what’s happening outside the arena.

  37. I too didn’t read the book before going into the film and I enjoyed it regardless. I think that says a lot about the quality of the source material and the way it was handled on screen. Thumbs up!

  38. I’m so happy someone feel the same on how this trilogy is better than the Twilight madness! I hated that saga so much I didn’t want to mention it in my review :p
    Unlike twilight, I’m excited to read this book, to know more about the details missing in the movie!

    Cool site and great reviews!

  39. Great review! I agree about the first part of the movie, it’s also how I felt about the first chunk of the book too. It was slow paced but eventually it sucks you in! It’s good to hear that you enjoyed it even though you didn’t read the books, hopefully it inspires you to maybe pick up the books?

  40. I’m glad you enjoyed this. I saw this and I wasn’t too impressed with it.

    I’m not gonna deny that it had it good moments and I enjoyed Lawrence, Harrelson, Kravitz and Banks… but I ended up feeling the whole time that THG could have been done a lot better.

    Case and point, Rue’s death should have been more emotional. From what I gathered from the word of book fans, Rue and Katniss had a meaningful relationship. in the film, this is glossed by at best.

    My review is here if you wanna check it out.

  41. Nice review, man, unfortunately I wasn’t as entertained by it as you were. I didn’t like it that much, but it did make me interested in reading the books. My wife insists the books are better and I was interested enough in Katniss’s story that I will probably check out the sequels. But I gave this movie a bit of a harsh review.

  42. It didn’t work for me and I won’t bother with next installments. As I said in my review (thanks for the comments) I just don’t think it lived up to it’s own premise or the advance hype. Oh well …

  43. Excellent review! Very similar to my thoughts, even though I’ve read the book.

    I found the romance just wasn’t put over in the right way. Because you feel it’s out of the blue, it doesn’t quite work, but in the book you realise that for Katniss it’s as much ‘acting’ as anything else (even if her genuine emotions may be more, her brain is telling her that she has to pretend in order to get audience sympathy to survive). I didn’t think the film quite conveyed that properly.

  44. This is a really good review, but I have to say, if you had read the books, you probably would be a lot more disappointed with the film. That’s just my opinion but I wish they’d taken it in a different direction. However Gary Ross isn’t returned for the sequel ‘Catching Fire’ so the whole feel of the next installment is going to change in comparison to The Hunger Games.

  45. I had never thought to look at The Hunger Games as a social commentary on modern day society. Of course, I understood that the society portrayed had serious class conflict and separation between rich and poor, but I never considered that the director/author had meant for it to be a warning to the current generation. That’s a very interesting point, and I’m glad you noticed it.

    On the relationship between Katniss and Peeta: It was fake, and you picked up on that, but it seems like you fell under the impression that their “fake” love transitioned into “real” love at some point. I thought that they were acting throughout the whole movie, simply to survive, so I’m curious as to what gave you that impression. Admittedly the question of their affection for each other becomes less clear in the following movie, but in the span of this movie it seems like the two are more concerned with making it out alive.

    I’d also like to point out that there are a few grammar mistakes you might want to iron out that made the review a little difficult to get through once or twice.

    Other than that, a solid review. Well done.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s