The Hunger Games takes place in the undefined dystopian future in a country called Panem. Many years prior the overbearing central government crushed a rebellion. In retribution for the rebel’s actions, the outlining cities or Districts are forced every year to give as Tribute a young boy and girl. The twenty-four Tributes are then locked in a controlled arena to fight to the death until there is only one victor. The Hunger Games as they are called is broadcasted live to the nation.
During the 74th Hunger Games in District 12 a young girl is picked as Tribute, but her older sister, Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), volunteers to go in her sister’s place. Katniss and the twenty-three other Tributes are paraded around Panem’s central city called the Capitol. Then it is off to the brutal and bloody arena to face death.
Much of the film focuses on Katniss’ attempt to survive in the arena. Lawrence’s portrayal of Katniss is subtle, but strong. The other Tributes are mostly one-dimensional killers or prey. However, Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman and Lenny Kravitz as Cinna do a remarkable job of bringing their characters from page to screen. Both Elizabeth Banks’ Effie and Woody Harrelson’s Haymitch are delightful in their specific ways, but I would have loved to see much more of both of these characters.
Other than a few minor points the film follows the book’s events quite accurately. The film also shows us scenes that we only hear in passing in the novel’s sequels or not at all. Such as the Control Room scenes as well as several scenes between President Snow and Seneca Crane. Other than to establish Snow as a cold and manipulative ruler, I would have rather seen that screen time go to Haymich.
All in all, the Hunger Games is a solid adventure story about bravely facing impossible odds. In addition, the producers of the film should be commended for staying so true to Suzanne Collins’s amazing novel.