Directed by Gary Ross, The Hunger Games is an adaptation from the book of the same name written by Suzanne Collins. It is a breathtaking, heart racing film in which the characters are believable and easy to identify with. The music was written by James Newton Howard, the same composer that worked on Snow White and the Huntsman, Batman Begins, King Kong (2005), Hidalgo, The Fugitive, Treasure Planet, and The Dark Knight. All of which those movies are known for their great musical scores and The Hunger Games is an awesome addition to that resume. The role of Katniss Everdeen was played by Jennifer Lawrence and the role of Peeta Mellark was played by Josh Hutcherson. Together theses two relatively new actors are joined by Stanley Tucci (Caesar Flickerman), Wes Bentley (Seneca Crane), Liam Hemsworth (Gale Hawthorne), Elizabeth Banks (Effie Trinket), Woody Harrelson (Haymitch Abernathy), Lenny Kravits (Claudius Templesmith) and Donald Sutherland (President Snow). Together, this cast makes the film come to life in a way most people would think impossible but they work amazingly well with each other and truly bring the book that the movie is based on, come alive.
The movie starts off with an excerpt written in white on a black screen saying "From the Treaty of the Treason: In penance for their uprising, each district shall offer up a male and female between the ages of 12 and 18 at a public 'Reaping.' These Tributes shall be delivered to the custody of The Capitol. And then transferred to a public arena where they will Fight to the Death, until a lone victor remains. Henceforth and forevermore this pageant shall be known as The Hunger Games."
|Caesar and Seneca discuss the Hunger Games|
We then go to an interview between Caesar Flickerman (Tucci) and Seneca Crane (Bentley) where they discuss the origins of the Hunger Games and what it means for the country and their people. After Flickerman asks Crane what defines his personal signature as Gamemaker we immediately jump to District 12 where we hear a girl screaming as she wakes up from a nightmare.
|Katniss comforts Prim after she wakes up from a nightmare|
She is calmed down by her older sister Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) who assures her that it was only a dream. Prim (played by Willow Shields) tells Katniss that in her dream "it was me." Katniss assures her that it won't be her since it is her first year and her name is only in there once. "They're not gonna pick you." Prim is still upset and asks Katniss to sing to her so that she might be able to get back to sleep however Katniss does not stay long and leaves to go and slip out of the district's boundaries and go hunting with her bow and arrows. She almost shoots a deer when she is startled and stopped by Gale (Hemsworth) her hunting friend.
Since he scared off her deer, Gale helps flush some birds out of the underbrush and Katniss shoots one. Then they see an odd silver airship flying over head and they run and hide under the brush so that they won't be seen. We jump to a woman in a magenta colored outfit carrying a parasol over her head. She obviously does not belong here with her very vibrant and outlandish outfit and makeup. Everyone else in this district is wearing pale colors that remind me of films i've seen of Nazi Concentration camps. This whole ordeal taking place also reminds me of that. There are other people from the Capitol around setting up a screen for the villagers to watch the Reaping and lights and fences and other things are being set up to go along with that.
We go back to Katniss and Gale in the forest where Gale is trying to convince Katniss to not watch the Hunger Games and that if they could convince everyone else to do so maybe they could stop it from happening. Then he suggests that they run off together and live in the woods away from society. Katniss refuses and reminds him of his brothers and her sister. Gale then pulls out a small loaf of white bread that Katniss can't believe is real. Then he wishes her a "Happy Hunger Games" and she replies with the normal response but affecting it with a British accent "and may the odds be ever in your favor." She then asks him how many times his name is entered into the reaping bowl and is surprised well more upset that surprised when her tells her that it's in 42 times.
Jump to Katniss selling the bird she shot in a dingy market for some yarn and then sees a Mockingjay pin which the seller just gives to Katniss for free.
We go back to Katniss's house where Prim is dressed up to go to the reaping with her hair in two braids but her shirt isn't tucked in in the back and Katniss fixes it. She then goes and bathes before putting on one of her mother's dresses that she laid out for her. Her mother then braids her hair and helps her pin it up into a nice knot on the back of her head. Katniss then gives Prim the Mockingjay pin that she got at the market and promises her that as long as she has it she will be safe. Then they all hear the sound telling them to come out to the Reaping.
|Katniss volunteers to take Prim's place in the Hunger Games|
|Katniss hugs Prim after volunteering for her in the Hunger Games|
Katniss waits alone in a room for her sister and mother to come and bid her farewell. Prim is crying and Katniss promises her that she will try to win and Prim gives her the Mockingjay pin to keep her safe in a reverse role scenario opposite the one that took place at their house. Katniss tells her mother not to tune out like she did when dad died. She has to stay in the present to take care of Prim. Then the 3 minutes they were allotted were used up and they were escorted out of the building. She is alone in the room when all of a sudden Gale comes in to bid her farewell also. Katniss asks him to keep her family safe and please don't let them starve. Gale gives her a sort of pep talk assuring her that she can and will win the Hunger Games because she is smart and knows how to hunt. He is escorted out and Katniss is alone again.
|Gale: "You're stronger than they are. You are."|
|Katniss and Peeta make quite an impression on the sponsors and the world by wearing costumes set on fire|
Cinna's view of what she should wear tonight is different than past years and so when the tribute parade starts Katniss and Peeta find themselves dressed all in black with flaming wings on the back of their suits. They capture everyone's attention with these outfits and to make the picture even better they grab each other's hand and hold them intertwined up in the air for all to see. President Snow (Sutherland) welcomes them all to the Capitol and bids them a happy Hunger Games and "may the odds be ever in your favor."
|President Snow welcomes the tributes|
That evening they have dinner with Effie and Haymitch where they are both given more instructions and advice. Katniss tells Haymitch how strong Peeta is and he tells Haymitch that Katniss can shoot very well. So they both start arguing with each other when Peeta bursts out "I have no chance of winning! None! All right? It's true. Everybody knows it. (to Katniss) You know what my mother said? She said District 12 might finally have a winner. But she wasn't talking about me. She was talking about you." Peeta leaves the dinner table after that and Katniss goes back to her previous flashback where here are now more details. Apparently Katniss was weak with near starvation and Peeta gave her some bread that not only kept her alive but her sister too.
|Peeta about to throw bread to a weak Katniss|
After that memory Katniss leaves the table as well. Then we are back at the training center where they continue to learn new things and practice older ones. We then go out to a scoreboard that is posting up the odds against each tribute. Haymitch is there and sees a boy's birthday party where the boy gets a play sword for a present and proceeds to "stab" his sister with it. We skip forward to dinner where Haymitch is advising them on what hey should do for their evaluation on the morrow. He gives them a final piece of advice "Make sure they remember you."
We jump forward where Katniss and Peeta are waiting for their turn to be evaluated. Katniss is called in and she picks up the bow announces her name and district then aims for a target body's head and misses. The judges laugh and pay no more attention to her even when she hits the bullseye on her second arrow. Katniss gets angry at their indifference and to get their attention she shoots an apple out of their roasted pig's mouth and then she says with a mocking bow "Thank you for your consideration." Then she walks out without being dismissed. We see Effie berating her while they wait for their scores to be announced but Haymitch comes in and tells her it was brilliant. Then the scores are announced. Peeta gets a good score of 8 and Katniss is given an 11, the highest rating of all the tributes.
|Seneca: "What do you mean?" Snow: "I mean, why do you think we have a winner? ... Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear."|
|Katniss's interview with Caesar|
|Scenes of Katniss and Peeta in a timeline from beginning of the film to its end|
|The Gamemaker's Control Room at the very beginning of the Hunger Games|
|Katniss running from the forest fire|
That night, high up in another tree, Katniss is awakened by a forest fire rapidly moving towards her she quickly unties herself and starts to run but the fire is faster and she is soon running in the midst of it doging this way and that to escape burning. Then the wall of fire starts throwing large fireballs at her which shatter whatever they hit, a tree, a boulder, and one of them injures Katniss in the leg and she has a very painful very severe burn on her upper right leg. She falls to the ground next to a large rock and is there only moments before she sees another fireball headed straight for her. She jumps up and runs until she reaches water where she gratefully falls into. Seneca tells the workers to prepare another cannon because she is discovered almost immediately by the alliance of tributes. While the tributes joke and laugh and stake the claim of killing her, Katniss gets out of the water and starts to run but she can't get far so she starts climbing a tree and the alliance catches up to her and Cato grabs his sword and starts climbing too which shouts of encouragement coming from all the tributes below except Peeta. Finally Cato grabs a rotten branch that breaks and he falls to the ground so Glimmer gets out her bow and shoots at Katniss but misses, then Cato grabs the bow and shoots and also misses Katniss who yells down, "Maybe you should throw the sword." Then Peeta suggests they wait her out. She has to come down sometime for food/water. They reluctantly agree and Cato tells someone to light a fire. Meanwhile, Katniss is in serious pain from her burn. She pours some water on it to clean it and manages to do so without screaming although she is in tears because of the pain but she does not cry out. Back at the Capitol, Haymitch sees this onscreen, takes pity on her and starts talking to sponsors who eventually send Katniss medicine for her leg which heals it almost immediately. She tells them thank you and goes back to sleep as do the tributes below her.
She wakes up before the other tributes and sees the small tribute girl from District 11, Rue (Amandla Stenberg), trying to get her attention. Rue points out a tracker jacker wasp nest about 7 feet above Katniss hanging out over where the alliance tributes are still sleeping. Rue uses gestures to tell Katniss to cut down the wasp nest so that it falls on the other tributes so that she can escape. We are pulled to Caesar who tells us that tracker jacker stings cause, "searing pain, powerful hallucinations, and in extreme cases, death." Back to Katniss who is preparing to cut down the nest to escape. She uses the serrated side of her knife to saw the limb that the nest is attached to off of the tree.
|Katniss about to cut the tracker jacker nest off the tree|
She works fast hoping she won't get stung but she does by about 3 or 4 tracker jackers before the nest falls onto the other tributes and they are awakened by wasps stinging them. They scatter but Glimmer gets stung too much and passes out before she dies. Katniss makes it to the ground right as she starts hallucinating. She does manage to get the bow and arrows away from Glimmer's severely stung and swollen hands however she doesn't do anything from there until 3 Peetas who turn into one yell at her to get out of there. Katniss gets up and starts running but keeps falling down and eventually passes out. She has a hallucination regarding her father's death before she wakes up a few days later to find leaves all around her wrists and her neck where she was stung. The bow and it's quiver of arrows are leaning against a fallen log right by her. She looks up and notices someone watching her from behind a tree. It is Rue who Katniss promises not to hurt and they make a sort of alliance of their own. Rue used the leaves to help heal Katniss's stings while Katniss was passed out. So Katniss talks with Rue after she hunts something down for them to eat and cook. While they are eating she asks what's happened and Rue tells her that 2 tributes have died, Glimmer (from District 1) and the tribute boy from District 10. Katniss finds out that Peeta is still alive and Rue asks Katniss if their romance is real but Katniss side steps the question by asking what happened to Cato and the alliance. Rue says they are camped by the cornucopia beside a huge pyramid of supplies. That night Rue sleeps with Katniss high up in the trees. The next day they devise a plan to destroy the alliance's supplies. While Rue will set up a diversion Katniss will go to their camp and figure out how to destroy the supplies. They hug and while Rue is definitely scared she and Katniss devise a signal using Mockingjays to let the other person know that they are okay but are being held up. One last hug and the split up and we go with Katniss to the alliance's camp. She sees that there have been numerous holes dug and refilled around the pyramid of supplies which we hear Caesar say is a boobie trap. Suddenly, the tributes see smoke in a direction away from camp, decide to hunt down whoever it is and leave their camp guarded by only one young boy tribute holding a spear. While Katniss watches and tries to figure out what to do she sees Foxface (Jacqueline Emerson) sneak up to the pyramid in a bizarre way while the guard sees nothing. When Foxface runs off into the woods after stealing some of the supplies the guard is lured off after her. Katniss notices now that not only have holes been dug around the pyramid but they have also been dug around each pedestal that the tributes started on. Katniss figures out that the bombs under the pedestals have been dug up, reactivated and buried around the pyramid. She looks at the pyramid and sees a way to destroy it. She uses two arrows to shoot a bag of apples on the top of the pile until it splits and apples fall down around the pyramid onto the bombs.
|Katniss successfully blows up the alliance's supplies|
|Katniss salutes Rue's district and the lullaby lyrics she sang to Rue as she died|
We jump to the Capitol where Seneca rushes into the control room and sees Katniss onscreen crying. Then we are in a hallway where Haymitch is talking to Seneca telling him not to kill Katniss or he will make another martyr. He tells Seneca to give the people something to root for if he cannot stop them with fear. Seneca asks what that would be and Haymitch responds "young love." Next, we see Seneca talking to Snow in the rose garden about getting permission to do something regarding the rules for the Arena. Snow talks to him carefully hinting that he is straying away from the safe path and that while he likes Seneca he tells him to be careful of what he is doing as Gamemaker.
|Snow and Seneca in the rose garden|
He was too well camouflaged for Katniss to see but now she helps him remove his camouflage and discovers that he is severely injured. He tries to tell Katniss to leave him but she won't let him get the words out of his mouth. She asks what happened to his leg and he told her that Cato gave him a sword cut. Katniss can tell that is not healing and he can't even walk without Katniss's help. She helps him into a nearby cave. She tells him that they'll have to get him some medicine but he tells her that he doesn't get many parachutes. She tells him they'll figure it out somehow nd gives him a kiss on the cheek. We jump back to District 12 to see that Gale is watching this happen on a screen as he does some work. His emotions are a bit difficult to tell but he seems a bit upset. Back to the cave in the woods. Peeta is asleep but Katniss hears the parachute beeping at them so she goes out carefully and finds it. She opens it to find a bowl of soup and a message from Haymitch that reads "You call that a kiss?" She brings the soup at Peeta and spoon feeds some of it into his mouth and reminds him that he once fed her by giving her the bread. Peeta talks about his long-time crush on her and after awhile he falls silent and eventually tells her to say something. Katniss says, "I'm not good at saying something." Peeta replies, "Then come here. Please." And Katniss lies down beside him with her head resting on his chest below his chin. A while later another annoucement is said by the gamemaker. He tells them that there will be a feast at the cornucopia at sunrise but it is no ordinary feast. Each of the tributes out there needs something badly and it will be at the feast for them to get. Katniss immediately knows that there will be medicine for Peeta there and starts to leave but Peeta begs her to stay. She won't listen until he asks her, "Why are you doing this?" Katniss looks in his eyes for a short time and then gives him a real kiss on the mouth. Jump to Gale's reaction to this in District 12. He looks sad. Back to the cave. When Katniss sits back up Peeta says, "Now there's no way I'm letting you go." And she finally agrees to stay with him and she lies down beside him with her head on his chest to go to sleep. A little while later after Peeta falls asleep he starts getting sicker with shills and a fever so Katniss gets her bow and arrows and heads for the cornucopia. She gets there and successfully retrieves the bag for District 12 with the help of Thresh (Dayo Okeniyi) the male tribute from Rue's District 11. He kills Clove (Isabelle Fuhrman), the female tribute from Cato's District 2, making Katniss and Peeta the only intact team in the Hunger Games. Clove was about to kill Katniss when Thresh heard her brag on how she killed Rue causing him to kill her. He lets Katniss go this one time just for Rue. Back at the cave Katniss returns with Peeta's medicine. She puts it on his wound and he sees the wound that Clove gave her on her forehead. He insists that she put some of his medicine on it and then does it for her. Back in the control room everyone stops to watch his take place and then they cause the sun to rise again. Peeta wakes up and sees Katniss's face almost totally healed and she sees his is too. Katniss says, "We could go home. We could. We're the only team left." Peeta disbelieving and happy says it too, "We could go home." They have a big hug and we jump forward to them crossing a river discussing the remaining tributes other than themselves who are Cato from District 2, Thresh from District 11, and Foxface from District 5. They decide to pause and Katniss will hunt will Peeta picks berries. They separate but only a few minutes go by before Katniss hears another cannon go off and thinks it means Peeta's dead. She runs back to find him and they run into each other and Katniss sees the berries he was picking and shoves them off of his hands because they cause almost instant death. They go back to where Peeta had been putting the berries he was collecting and find Foxface dead with some berries in her hand.
|Foxface died from eating the nightlock berries|
Katniss takes the berries and puts them in her pocket telling Peeta that they might be able to use them on Cato. Soon after it starts to get dark but it's only a little bit past noon. Katniss tells Peeta that the controllers "Must be in a hurry to end it." Jump to the control room where Lucia shows Seneca a dog/wolflike creature that resembles a pit bull. He tells her to put it in the middle of the room and he compliments her on it. Back to the Arena where Peeta and Katniss are walking through the woods towards the cornucopia. They hear a disturbance and then a person's yell and a cannon go off. The face of Thresh appears on the sky screen. They they are being chased by the same animal only there are more of them. They run for thier lives to get to the cornucopia and barely make it. Peeta gives Katniss a step up and she's on top of the cornucopia pulling Peeta up when a creature grabs his ankle. She manages to pull him free only to be attacked by Cato who is also up there. They fight while the creatures wait below until Cato has Peeta in a headlock with Katniss aiming her bow at Cato. However, Cato is standing on the edge of the cornucopia and if Katniss shoots both he and Peeta will fall to the creatures and die. Katniss will be the lone victor. Cato talks about how he's been tricked. While he talks Peeta indicates that Katniss should hit Cato's hand holding him and she does so. Cato releases Peeta and falls off the cornucopia and is attacked by the creatures. Katniss takes her bow and gives Cato a mercy kill. Then they hear a cannon and know that they have won. The sun rises and they get off the cornucopia and look around.
Then they hear the voice of the gamemaker saying, "Attention. Attention, Tributes. There has been a slight rule change. The previous revision, allowing for two victors from the same district, has been revoked. Only one victor may be crowned. Good luck. And may the odds be ever in your favor."
Katniss and Peeta turn to look at each other and Peeta says, "Go ahead. One of us should go home. One of us has to die. They have to have their victor." Katniss shakes her head and throws down her bow as she says, "No. They don't. Why should they?" Then she pulls out the poisonous berries and holds them between them. Peeta sees them and says, "No!" but Katniss says, "Trust me. Trust me." and then she gives him half of the berries and keeps the other half for herself.
|Sharing the berries|
|Peeta: "Together?" Katniss: "Together."|
We cut to see Seneca walking down a hall escorted by two peacekeepers. They lead him to a room and shut the doors behind him and lock him in. The only thing in the large ornate room is a gold table with a crystal dish on it under a chandelier. After finding out that the doors were locked behind him he walks over and looks into the crystal dish and sees the berries that would have killed Peeta and Katniss. Obviously, he is being sentenced to death for letting that happen. We jump to Caesar Flickerman but we do not hear him. We hear Haymitch talking to Katniss and telling her how to keep everyone safe. She has to tell everyone that she was so in love with Peeta that the thought of being apart was unthinkable. She has to do that to keep everything and everyone she cares about safe. Jump to their interview with Caesar and to all the questions she does exactly as Haymitch told her. They are announced by Caesar, "The star-crossed lovers from District 12, this year's victors of the 74th Annual Hunger Games!"
|President Snow crowns Katniss|
|Katniss and Peeta on the train ride home|
The actors played the key roles very well but Jennifer Lawrence did an exceptional job portraying hers. All of her expressions were complex but understandable and easy to identify with. What she was thinking was absolutely clear on her face and in her actions and this did not make the film seem boring but rather more engaging. It was amazing and it more than exceeded my expectations since I went to see it with very low expectations since it was an adaptation on a book that I'd never read before. However, instead of turning me away from the book, which I had tried to read in the past but never really got through it, it caused me to go back to the book and I was able to read it and I was astounded at how true to the book the movie was and it was the portrayal of the characters onscreen that helped me read the book and understand it better. I'm sure the fact that the author of the books was one of the screenwriters that adapted it helped it tremendously on that level. Still, without their performances I might still be sitting around not reading it.
|Being "Escorted" through the Training center|
The film techniques used in this film were a bit different than in most movies. There were a lot more jump cuts between frames and that helped make the movie more personal to me and I could feel what the character was feeling. For example, the Reaping scene, when Prim is chosen to be tribute and Katniss volunteers for her, I felt inside the horror and desperation of Katniss and was in tears by the time the scene was over. And this scene is at the beginning of the movie! Usually for me to feel that much empathy or sympathy with or for a character it takes a much longer time for me to make the connection necessary for that to happen. In The Hunger Games, that feeling was almost instantaneous and remember I had never read the book before seeing this. So I was shocked out of my seat. The music also helped me make the connection and it definitely made me feel more emotions watching this film than any other I've watched before. Normally, whenever I'm watching a movie, I have to be doing something with my hands like playing solitaire on the computer or coloring/painting a picture on paper or even crocheting. Even taking notes on a movie is easy and sometimes not enough for me to do. I get bored easily. There are very few movies that I can sit down and just watch. Even with my favorite movies or especially with my favorite movies I have to be doing something else. However, this movie definitely took a place on my very small list of movies that I can just watch. One of the movies is Avatar and now The Hunger Games has joined that top tier which consists of a very short list of movies. Even taking notes while watching this movie was difficult because sometimes I'd just want to sit and watch what was happening rather than write down some stuff which might have been what made this review harder to do.
|The Hunger Games Movie Stills|
Go see this movie! I cannot repeat it enough! Go see this movie! See it for the characters, the special effects, the scenery, the costumes that were amazing, the relationships between the characters, the music that made it wonderful, the plot, the action, the lighting, the sounds, the editing, and everything else in between that I don't have the time or patience to list since I want to go and watch the movie again. Go see this movie! Go and see it NOW!
|All 24 Tributes in the 74th Annual Hunger Games|