Review: Director Gary Ross leaves fans hungry for more


Elizabeth Banks (left) and Jennifer Lawrence (right) star in ‘The Hunger Games.’ It opened at the Maui Mall Megaplex on Friday, March 23, 2012.

By Kiana Kamalu, op-ed editor

Fans and critics are raving about the highly anticipated film The Hunger Games, which opened in theaters on March 23, 2012, and with good reason. The movie left fans excited and ‘hungry’ for the sequel.

The Hunger Games is based on a dystopian novel by Suzanne Collins about a futuristic world where one boy and one girl (known as tributes) are chosen from the 12 districts of Panem to be entered into what is called the Hunger Games. The 24 tributes are thrown into an arena and will fight to the death until there is only one left standing—the winner. The games are televised across Panem, and the citizens are required to watch.

The story follows Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence), a tribute from District 12, and her story as she experiences the games and its cruelty.

The books are well-known and the fans number in the tens of thousands, but The Hunger Games have been criticized by readers and fans of the Japanese novel and movie, Battle Royale. The book also portrays a dystopian future about a government afraid of its teens and takes a group of 42 students to a deserted island. There, they are told to fight and kill until there is only one winner (while it is also broadcast on live television for the country to watch).

Collins has said repeatedly that she had not heard of the story before The Hunger Games, but some are still suspicious. I haven’t seen nor read Battle Royale, and I do have to say they are similar stories, but I think The Hunger Games has more depth and emotion tied to it than just a killing spree. The books are amazing and the movie is fantastic.

Every scene, every character, every costume was simply marvelous. The casting was well-done. Without the phenomenal acting from Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, and Lenny Kravitz The Hunger Games would not have had the same impact and emotion.

Lawrence particularly stood out with her brilliant portrayal of Katniss Everdeen. Katniss is a complex character to master, and Lawrence became Katiniss with such an ease. She did a stupendous job.

Her co-star Josh Hutcherson also did excellent work with his character Peeta Mellark. This has to be Hutcherson’s best performance of all time.

Amandla Stenberg had to be my second favorite actress in the movie that night. Stenberg plays Rue, a dainty twelve-year-old from District 11, who sneaks into your heart the minute she appears on screen. Stenberg’s innocence and adorable-ness instantly creates this bond with the audience that almost feels real. Fans will agree that she was the perfect Rue and that she was one of the best actresses of the night.

Much of the cast had to dye their hair to match the characters more effectively, but I found the transition from brunette to blond for Hutcherson a little too obvious. There are a few scenes that have his hair looking more natural, but there are others where Hutcherson’s hair looked massively bleached and damaged. It was a minor flaw and has little importance in contrast to the rest of the movie, but it stood out too much for me.

Other than Peeta, the rest of the costumes and make-up was something that can only be described as otherworldly. The citizens of the Capitol were so outlandish, colorful and unique. The costumes were definitely something to gawk at but could not have been more perfect for the Capitol.

The music and digital effects for this film also fit flawlessly. The Capitol was amazing and made me want to live in such a beautiful place (minus the Lady Gaga clothes). And the film score fit every scene like a glove. At each and every turn, whether it was an action or emotional scene, the music amplified the scene’s intensity.

Other than Peeta’s hair, the only real issue I had with The Hunger Games was the way the camera would shake in certain scenes. On such a huge screen, my eyes can only focus on so much at a time, so when they add in an effect that makes me experience something similar to an earthquake, my eyes get a workout trying to focus on anything that is going on up there. I understand the authenticity it brings to the screen, but there could have toned it down a bit.

Even with those minor flaws, everything from the characters to the music exceeded my expectations—even the trailer. I give the amazing Hunger Games four and a half stars out of five. Gary Ross did the books justice, and I am sure others who have not read the trilogy will find The Hunger Games just as thrilling and intensely fantastic as I have. The fans and I cannot wait to see what he does with the sequel Catching Fire. Even if you are a fan of Battle Royale, I think everyone should see this movie at least once this year.

The Hunger Games is now playing at the Maui Mall Megaplex.