Adapting a novel that has a huge following can never be easy. Fans will not hesitate to rip the movie apart into tiny little pieces if its not up to or even exceeds their expectations, and for Gary Ross, he was tasked with the directing one a movie with largest followings, The Hunger Games. A movie that is expected to follow up the departing The Twilight Saga series. The book was filled with vivid images of violence and death but also tender moments that can bring a tear to you eye. While the movie focuses more on the latter, I can thankfully say that this movie is a faithful adaptation that is emotionally engaging and should exceed fans’ expectations.
Gary Ross had all the major pieces set in place. He had co-written the script with Suzanne Collins. He had the more than capable cast already assembled. And there’s no need to set up a large set on a studio, because it was already out there readily accessible.
Every single emotion emitted in this movie goes far beyond setting the tone of the scene itself and demands that you pay attention to the movie. When Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta Mallarck (Josh Hutcherson) roll in their chariot, the audience will be just as captivated as the audiences in the Captiol stands.
But for those who are not familiar with The Hunger Games story, I’ll give you a very basic synopsis of the movie. The Hunger Games takes place in an the dystopian future nation of Panem, ruled from the wealthy and complacent Capitol. To maintain order and prevent war from disrupting peace, the Capitol requires 24 tributes between the ages of 12-18, two from each of the 12 districts of Panem, to compete in a game of survival. In order to save her much younger and defenseless sister Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her place. Soon Peeta Mellark’s name is called, and the two are taken away from their desolate home of District 12 to the luxurious new home of The Capitol to be prepped before an audience and gambling sharks and trained in the art of survival before they are sent to their deaths.
The trouble of adapted these young adult novels that have a huge following is that the first act can be hard for those who are not familiar with the movie itself. However director Gary Ross and Co. subtly weave in explanations to the rules of the game and why the world of Panem exists to make that transition from unfamiliarity to conformability easier as seen in the very beginning of the move and an introduction video before the tributes are called. It may take a while before you see the action, but trust me, you are better off knowing why all of this is happening. In fact its more than worth it to sit down and see it.
The movie is anchored on the relationships that Katniss shares with everyone, honestly, the action takes a back seat in this movie. Which is a good thing because the action can be confusing and dizzying at times. But the supporting cast is just superb. Elizabeth Banks is oddly hilarious with her performance as Effie Trinket. Fans have championed for Woody Harrelson to be Haymitch Abernathy, and they were rewarded with a stellar performance of the drunk with a heart of gold. But if anyone looked liked they were having fun it had to be Stanley Tucci. His performance as Caesar Flickerman was absolutely electric.
By now, you may have heard people comparing The Hunger Games to Twilight. Fact of the matter is the two share the love aspect, but all of that is doesn’t come into the light until the second act and the final portions of the third act. Everything centers on the relationships that Katniss has with Gale, Primrose, and her mother, followed by the relationship she shares with those who participate in the hunger games and those outside of it. But Lawrence seems more than happy to bare all that weight has those connections seem pure, genuine, and honest.
There is no doubt that fans will be more than pleased with the fact that Ross was able to deliver a faithful adaptation of The Hunger Games in spades. Recognizing certain set pieces that were in the book and seeing them in the movie is always something a fan loves to see, and when a director adds his own person touch to the movie, it adds to the soul of the movie. But those who don’t recognize the movie shouldn’t be afraid of it, in fact they should see this as an opportunity to see why this movie, and the books its adapted from, has become a global phenomenon.