"The Hunger Games" will have you dying for more
After much anticipation, "The Hunger Games" has arrived. The big-screen adaptation of Suzanne Collins' first young adult novel in her Hunger Games trilogy is almost guaranteed a blockbuster smash from its literary fans. "Hunger Games" should not, however, be relegated to "Twilight" status by the uninitiated – this newest YA sensation packs serious substance and has been translated into a powerful movie experience.
"The Hunger Games" follows 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives in the futuristic remnants of today's North America known as Panem. Katniss, like her little sister Prim and every other child ages 12-18 residing in Panem's 12 districts, must annually be subjected to the "Reaping," an assembly which selects one boy and one girl from each district to battle to the death in the Capitol's Hunger Games. After Prim's name is drawn, Katniss volunteers to take her place and literally fight for her life for the Capitol citizens' entertainment.
Lacking the inner monologue of a first-person voice, "Hunger Games" blends in elements of the second book to provide a greater perspective of the Capitol and its sinister omnipresence in the districts. While many of the details in the original exposition are sacrificed to move the story along, the majority of them are inconsequential to the more abbreviated storyline of the movie.
However, there are a few points in the beginning which – while trivial – could trip up viewers who haven't read the book initially. These moments pass quickly with the introduction, which mirrors the choppy, ragged environment of Katniss' gray and weary District 12.
The movie hurries to whisk Katniss and her fellow "tribute," Peeta Mellark, off to the games and introduce the audience to the meat of the plot. Loyal readers of the first novel should not be disappointed at early omissions, as some of the background information that was skipped over to streamline the exposition gets woven into the action leading up to and during the games.
Once here, the movie proves to be as faithful an adaptation as a two-and-a-half hour live-action version can be. Although the book can't possibly be translated to perfection into big-screen parameters, "The Hunger Games" gives a pitch-perfect new voice to the book's high-running emotions, heavy plot and juxtaposition between the lush Capitol and bleak districts.
Even with the PG-13 rating, the movie succeeds in giving the book's brutality – both the subtle and visceral – visual form without the excesses of thematic Japanese predecessor "Battle Royale."
Coupled with mesmerizing performances (Jennifer Lawrence especially) and a haunting score, the story transcends the original pages and succeeds in creating something universally appealing for both diehard fans and those who haven't read a sentence.
Theaters and showtimes for The Hunger Games
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