“Jennifer Lawrence just gave the best performance I’ve seen since Heath Ledger as The Joker…”
Those were the first words out of my mouth as I exited the theatre, amazed at what I had just seen. Truly, even if you have little interest in the movie itself, if you are a fan of the art form, you must see this for her performance alone. If she doesn’t win the Oscar for this role the Academy will have embarrassed themselves. The scene before Katniss enters the tube sent chills down my spine and solidified Jennifer among the acting elite. But the good news is, beyond her masterful performance, this was one of the best films I’ve seen in the past few years. No hyperbole, this movie was far better than anything that you saw released in all of 2011.
The film stays as close to the novel as possible despite having to condense certain things in order to contain all that content within the confines of a films timeframe. You have to take your hat off to the writers and the director for being able to condense things together while remaining true to the source material and, at the same time, creating something that those few filmgoers unfamiliar with the source material could easily follow.
Only a few things get lost in translation. For instance, those who have not read The Hunger Games may be a bit confused by the whole opening segment with the cat, being unaware of Buttercups back-story. The importance of the mockingjay and the mockingjay pin are also lost in the film translation, which is all right for those of us in the know, but may be problematic for the uninitiated later down the line. The level of abject poverty and the significance of Peeta tossing Katniss the burnt bread is also a bit fuzzy in the film, but again, is given enough screen time to satisfy die hard fans.
One of the best features of the film for those of who have read the novel, is the expansion of the universe, the peak behind the curtain. In the book we know the Gamemakers are pulling the strings and setting up traps, like the fireballs, but here we see into the control room. We get a peak at the machine in action, as well as the personalities of those in charge. This aspect of the film not only makes the movie more compelling but it also enriches the universe for avid readers of the series.
The style in which they shot the action sequences is also something to be applauded. Often in PG films we get ridiculous looking fighting, where knifes and swords pierce flesh yet leave no cuts and draw no blood. Fighting that completely takes you out of the film and shatters your suspension of disbelief. Here the brutality of The Huger Games and the vicious hand to hand killings are captured via close up shaky-cam shots, with the gruesome violence happening slightly off screen with blood splattering into frame to convey the horrifying slaughter. This gives the viewer the same emotional retention a vicious kill in an R rated film would wield, while keeping the deaths tame enough to keep the film PG-13. Which is a pretty big achievement to say the least.
The visuals of the film were also impressive. The Capital looks as rich and lavish as you imagined it would and the people appear just as strange. Effie Trinket for one was the stuff of nightmares. Beyond that everything else was pitch perfect. From the training sequence, to the girl on fire scene, to the friendship with Rue, everything was spot on. Fans will not be disappointed.
Bottom-line, this film is incredibly. If you haven’t seen it yet, you need to ASAP. As a matter of fact you should do what I did. Go watch the movie, read back through the book, then go see the movie a second time. It is that damn good. I for one, can’t wait for the sequels.