The Hunger Games Film Review 4/5

Yesterday I painstakingly counted down the hours, the minutes and then excitedly, theP220312_23.44 seconds, until entering the cinema for the advanced screening of The Hunger Games. You could feel the excitement, the tangible buzz of everyone in the cinema. Friends whispered enthusiastically to one another, others shuffled impatiently in their seats, and when the lights finally dimmed clapping and cheering ensued, but when the first set of words were flashed up on the screen, everyone became entirely silent, utterly focused.

This was the moment we had all been waiting for.

A glimpse of the girl on fire.

The Plot
I don’t think I need to going into my usual extensive recap of the plot for this one, because let’s face it, pretty much everyone knows the story by now (plus this post is already really long). If somehow you’ve miraculously managed to avoid it, you can take a look at the summary of The Hunger Games book blurb below:

In the dark vision of the near future, twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live TV show called the Hunger Games.
There is only one rule: kill or be killed.
When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sisters place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature.

The Verdict

Firstly you should be aware that this review is totally biased. I am a huge fan of The Hunger Games books and therefore simply seeing the story translated to the screen was fantastic, I’m not exactly going to be objective. But with that said, on with the review!

The film overall, remains very true to the book in terms of both, pace and structure. The  first half of the film sets the scene, introduces the characters, and builds up your empathy towards them. Then the second half is completely focused on the Hunger Games, the terror, adrenaline, and hopelessness that the tributes face.

katnis at the reapingpeeta running

Several scenes have also been added that are not actually in the book, which I think worked really well. We see a lot more of president Snow and the games master, and are given much more insight into what goes on behind the scenes of the games, and the technology used to control the arena. I thought this was a really innovative idea on the producers part, it was a great way to convey how the arena actually worked to the audience without using the internal dialogue that runs through Katniss’ head in the books.
However, before seeing this film I must strongly advise reading the books first. I repeat. READ THE BOOKS FIRST! Why you ask? I feel like viewers were robbed of a few very important details that were key to the story, and I also felt some parts may have been a bit confusing for someone who hadn’t read the book. For instance, the symbolism behind the hand gesture used by the districts, the visit from the Baker, and most importantly, the symbolism and relevance of the Mockingjay pin! I know these may not be seem as vital details, but they certainly are to me, they help to build Katniss’ character and make you empathize with her. There are also some other similar details left out, like the Avox girl that plays a large part in forming the readers opinions of the Capitol.

the hunger games hand gesture Mockingjay pin
The characterization was perfect. Katniss appeared even stronger in the movie than she was in the books. Although at points I did worry they were getting close to the line of her being too hard/stoical, but then they quickly pulled it back with some emotional scenes. Lawrence captures Katniss’ stiff upper lip, but also her vulnerability with glassy eyed looks, bleak helplessness and moments of panic.
I was quite concerned about Josh Hutcherson acting skills from the trailer, but apart from the one cringey line “I just keep wishing I could think of a way to show them that they don’t own me” which sent me and my friend into uncontrollable hysterics he actually did pretty well, and certainly managed to capture the essence of Peeta’s character.
Liam Hemsworth seemed like a good pick to play Gale too, although we didn’t get to see much of him in the film.
However it was Cina, Effie and Caesar Flickerman that I was most impressed with. They really captured them perfectly! Cina’s calm and defiant nature. Effie’s perfect combination of being irritating and somehow loveable at the same time, and Caesar’s kindness and his ability to extract information from the tributes in a pleasant way. The actors really did do an excellent job.
I was slightly disappointed however, that some of the characters I knew and loved from the books were missed out completely. We are not even introduced to Katniss’ prep team, and Madge is nowhere to be found. I think this was a real shame, not only would they work as great plot devices for the subsequent films, but Madge is also the one that is supposed to give Katniss the Mockingjay pin!

As for the cinematography……well, someone had fun with the shaky camera effect! In most cases it worked extremely well – portraying the tributes disorientation and pumping adrenaline, but they did take it a bit to the extreme. A lot of the camera work in The Hunger Games is very fast paced in order to bypass the violence aspect that would make it unsuitable for younger viewers. There always seems to be a difference between reading about violence and seeing it portrayed on screen. Overall I feel they managed to do this very successfully – it was enough to give you a taster but not enough for Lionsgate to receive hatemail. However, I do feel that the film would have benefitted more from a 15 rating, but I understand why they couldn’t do that.
I also have another little nitpicking point to make in terms of music. The director kept opting for silence to dramatize the scene, we all know this technique from horror movies of course – sometimes no sound is more effective. However I don’t think it worked that well in this case, and I feel it would have been much better to use at least some form of dramatic music instead, but that is probably just a personal preference thing.

I feel like I have listed a lot of negatives for such an excellent film, but as a fan of the books I had a very specific idea of how I wanted certain scenes to play out, and I also found it much easier in this case, to pick out what I didn’t like rather than what I did like. But don’t get me wrong, the film was excellent! I would definitely recommend it! What I truly loved about it though, was seeing all the characters I’d pictured in my mind transferred to the big screen, and nothing can describe that captivating moment, when I saw Katniss shoot her first arrow…

katniss with boy and arrow

I would recommend this film to both males and females, 10 upwards. (Although technically its a 12A it’s really not very violent and I think it would be perfectly fine for a slightly younger audience.) I think people will enjoy this film, whether they are fans of the books or are coming to it with a completely fresh mind, however, I really do recommend that you read the books first. 🙂

Happy Hunger Games!

May the odds be ever in your favour.

Originality: 4/5
Entertainment: 4/5
Characters: 5/5
Cinematography: 4/5
Computer-Generated Imagery): 5/5

Overall: 4/5

P.S. I don’t feel this is a very good review, instead it’s more of an incoherant babble comparing the film to the books haha. To read a much better review of The Hunger Games you can check out Surly Gurls who have done a really excellent review! 🙂

Image Sources:
Katniss at the reaping: :
Peeta running:
Katniss hand gesture:
Mockingjay pin:
Haymitch, Cina, and Peeta:
Katniss with bow and arrow:

48 thoughts on “The Hunger Games Film Review 4/5

  1. Thanks for the kind words and the shout out at the end of your review. We don’t think you’re giving yours enough credit though. We think you’ve done a great job!

    You definitely have a point with the absence of Katniss’ makeover team, they really were part of how the readers of the books came to realize that the people of the Capital don’t really have a clue how the rest of the districts see them.

    • No problem! You guys deserve it 🙂 Haha, that may be the case….I’m somewhat of a perfectionist when it comes to writing, and I was knackered when I was trying to write this post. Plus being such a big fan of the books, and having enjoyed to movie, I was concerened that I wasn’t going to do it justice…

      Yeah, I thought it was a real shame, but I have a feeling they might bring them in for the second film Catching Fire as long as they make it, so there’s hope yet! 😉

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment 🙂

  2. Becky, MLB and I saw HG last night. We hadn’t read the books, but thought it was one of the best movies we’ve seen in a long time.

    It’s one case where I’m glad I didn’t read the book first. I have no complaints about the movie, whatsoever.

    Great review.

    • Really? That’s great then! As long as you understood it then I’m sure others will too 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed it mj, I know I did! 🙂 Like I said above, I feel like I’ve listed a lot of negatives, but even taking all that into consideration I thought it was excellent.

      Do you think you will read the books? Or are they too YA for ya? 😉

      • I love YA, even though I’m 53, going on 14!!

        I plan to write a YA novel. Have already started with the characters. I’m super-young-at-heart. MLB calls it immaturity!! hehehe

      • Really? That’s great! I bet you’d write an excellent novel. I know I’d buy it 🙂 Any idea which genre yet? As in supernatural, science fiction, contemporary etc?

        Haha, that may be, but who doesn’t love a bit of immaturity now and then? 😛

  3. You just wrote exactly what I was thinking. I watched it this morning and although I loved it, I was very upset they missed out the bit with the sleeping syrup and when Peeta and Katniss are sending Effie love message whilst messily licking their fingers. They were my favourite parts!

    • Yeah, they have quite a following, and then that was only magnified by fact they decided to turn it into a film.

      I really love them, I think there fantastic. Suzanne Collins is not the best technical writer in the world. Not by far, but her ideas and storytelling are superb.
      You should definitely check them out 🙂

    • Thank you! 🙂
      I think any fan of The Hunger Games would probably have trouble viewing it objectively, it’s such an emotional and powerful story that it just draws you in.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting! 🙂

  4. All movies-based-on-books miss out vital parts. I suppose it is difficult to fit a whole book in 2 hours.
    Didn’t read your whole review because I do want to read the books (at some point).

    Glad you enjoyed it though. When I love a book, I tend to get annoyed with the movie version because usually they don’t do justice. But I will definitely watch this once I finish the books…

    • I know it’s such a shame! Usually I try and seperate the film from the movie in my head and see them as two completely seperate things, that way, if it’s rubbish it doesn’t affect my love of the book.
      Haha me too! When your a fan of the book you’re never going to think everything’s perfect, and a lot of the time I am disappointed. It’s funny though, even with that in mind I always squeel excitedly when I hear that a book I love is being turned into a film…..
      In my mind, it’s a shame they can’t make film longer. I know it would probably put others off but I’d be happy to sit there for four hours watching a good film if it meant they could fit everything from the book in. 😛

      Hurry up and read the book Nisha! Coh! 😉
      Lol, just kidding. I hope you enjoy them if you ever get around to reading them 🙂

      • I will! I will! I promise, once I read the two I’m busy with now, HG will be on my Currently Reading page… 😉

        I’m the exact opposite tho, when I find they’re making a movie about a book I love, I just roll my eyes and wonder ‘how they’re gonna screw this one up?’
        Mind you, without meaning to contradict myself, I would like to see a movie version of Kostova’s The Historian…

      • Well at least that way you can’t be dissapointed! 🙂

        That’s great to hear! Lol, it would be kind of hilarious if you hated it though…… :S

        Oooh, I’m planning on reading that one this year, it’s on my shelf patiently awaiting me. But I’m guessing I should probably read Dracula first? I seem to vaguely remember it’s based around Dracula or something?

      • You know, come to think of it, The Historian made very few refernces to the novel. I suppose you could actually read it without reading Dracula, it won’t be confusing in any way.
        It does allude to the real-life Dracula a lot, so maybe read a brief history of Vlad the Impaler if you haven’t already. That will definitely enhance your enjoyment of Historian, I think…;)

  5. I agree with the music thing. Especially during the Reaping, I noticed that it was way too quiet. When you start to notice things like that, it’s a bad thing, at least in my opinion. The music should flow with the movie and you shouldn’t have to stop and think about it, but the utter silence in that whole scene broke that rule. I know that the person who scored the film had very little time in which to do it, but I think even something little would have improved it greatly.

    • Yeah, I think the lack of music almost distracted from the scene like you’ve said, it almost made you pop back into reality and think “wait a minute, why is there no sound?” which is not really what you want in a dramatic scene like the reaping. You want to be sucked into the drama, not pushed out!
      Really I didn’t know that he had to do it in a short time, why was that?
      And since we’re speaking of music, have you listened to The Hunger Games official soundtrack yet? 🙂

      • Originally it was Danny Elfman and T. Bone Burnett who were composing the score, but Elfman had to leave in December because he was too busy with other movies. So James Newton Howard came in to work with Burnett. I realize that Burnett may have brought to the table some things he had already done with Elfman, but still, it’s only a few months to get the rest of the soundtrack written and finalized. Here’s an article on the subject:
        Do you mean the soundtrack from the film or the Songs from District Twelve album? In either case, no, I haven’t, though I’ve had Safe and Sound on my iPod since it came out as a single. I’m hoping to buy at least the Songs from D12 album soon, though, as I’m not really one for instrumental albums or film scores in general.

      • Thanks for the article. You really are up on all the Hunger Games knowledge, I’m very impressed. 😉
        I meant the songs from District 12 album. Haha, yeah same here for the Safe & Sound comment, I became obsessed with that song during the buildup towards the film! I haven’t got hold of a copy myself yet, but I’ve heard a couple of the tracks, quite a sombre CD by the looks of it, but it certainly has potential!

  6. Ooohhh good review!

    I agree with everything you said about the character choice. Stanley Tucci always does a great job, and I really loved Lenny Kravitz as Cinna; he’s so lovable in the books, and I’m glad that didn’t get taken away in the film.

    Plus. I’m a bit fan of Liam Hemsworth. He’s gorgeous! hahaha.

    Also, I agree that the symbolism did go missing. I actually cried a little when District 11 went into rebellion, and they gave her the three fingers. It was really sweet. But I also know that that would of meant almost nothing to people who hadn’t read the books.

    I quite liked the lack of music. And as you pointed out, it was far better that they showed what was going on behind the scenes instead of using Katniss to voice-over what she was feeling. That would just be a bit tacky and awkward I think.

    One thing I was unhappy with was the casting of Donald Sutherland as President Snow. I just can’t see him as evil! He played the part fine, but in my mind I pictured a greasy, black-haired guy with puffy lips and evil eyes. Basically a cross between Severus Snape and the baddie from Thor, basically. SO when it was some old guy I was shocked!

    • Thank you 🙂

      Liam Hemsworth, phoaaa, I agree with you there! Did you see him in The Last Song? And actually, I have to say, I think he was more cute with brown hair, I’d only ever seen him with blonde in the past.

      The disctrict 11 uprising made me all teary too, it was such a powerful scene, all the anger, and grief just bolied over all at once! With Rue as well… sad. Whenever she came on the screen my friend and I just look at each other and whimpered, because she was just way too sweet, and we knew what was coming later in the film :/

      Hehe, yeah I think if they’d done a voice-over it would have sounded a lot like Twilight, as if people weren’t drawing enough comparisons already! So I’m really glad they didn’t do that. I liked the fact that they kind of used Caesar as a voiceover with his commentary of the games, I think that worked well. 🙂

      Really? Yeah I certainly imagined Snow a lot worse looking, kinda snide and possibly with greasy hair, and younger like you said, but I think Sutherland still did an excellent job, I can certainly see him as an evil mastermind, I don’t want to though, cause I like the guy!
      Thanks for the long comment! 🙂

      • Hahahaaha. NO worries!

        Haha, yeah I’ve seen The Last Song. Its SUCH a terrible film, but he’s topless in it so I can see the appeal of it… and you’re right he does look better with brown hair! I’m rather partial to dark haired people though. Hahaha

  7. I totally agree with you about the shaky camera!!! It drove me nuts. While I do recognize that they needed to keep a PG13 despite all the violence in the film, it still gets to me…

    Also, something funny a friend pointed out to me about Madge’s lack of appearance: The director claims that he only did it to allow more focus on the relationship between Katniss and her sister, which is exactly what the Capitol tries to do to harness more sympathy towards Katniss!

    I do want to point out though that Katniss prep team was there (two out of three) when she is getting her legs waxed. There isn’t a huge focus on the flamboyance that made me love her prep team, but the credits say that those two people were part of her prep team.

    By the way, I think your review was great. 🙂

    • Yeah, I think the shakey camera thing has annoyed so many people! I’ve seen several comments around the interenet saying that it made them feel really nauseous and ill. I think the film should have come with a warning: motion sickness may occour sign haha 🙂

      Really? That is pretty funny. 🙂 I was actually thinking the other day that the entire trilogy is kind of hypocritical. It’s supposed to be a social commentary about how terrible the Capitol are for enjoying watching young children die, yet we as readers are enjoying the book….I’m not too sure what to think on that one haha. Any ideas?

      Ahh yes, I did notice that they had face time, perhaps I should have made my comment more accurate. 🙂 I more meant I was dissapointed by the fact that they had such minimal camera time, and that we weren’t introduced to them as the people we had come to know and love in the books.

      Thank you so much! I wasn’t too sure when I first wrote it. Thank you for stopping by and commenting/subscribing! Hope to hear more from you in the future, and I will check out your blog as well 🙂

      • I totally agree about Katniss’ prep team. I really do wish they had more screen time because they’re so silly and sassy it would have been a great relief from all the dark and depressing stuff.
        As for the shaky camera, my boyfriend said that he was starting to feel sick from it too. So I fully support the warning hehe. Then again, we got the second row from the screen so it might have been a little easier if we were a little farther away…who knows

        My English major friends and I were chatting about how funny it is that everyone who has read the series has become “proper Capital citizens” and we really analyzed it down to the irony of eating popcorn in the movie theater while watching these people fight for food. We realized that the joke is actually on the fans of the series since we, the fans, kind of become the people whom we hate in book. It’s really freaky to think about. *shudder* But a part of me thinks that maybe by realizing how we have become the Capital, that maybe we will consciously stop obsessing over reality shows and what not so as not to fall into a society that cheers for a literal Hunger Games. That’s my hope at least.

      • Ahhh, I love the conclusions you’ve drawn in your comment. I think they’re so true, and really well said by the way! 🙂 Especially the popcorn vs hunger thing.
        It is freaky to think about, which is why I’m going to put it somewhere in a dark corner of my mind to be forgotten about I think. 😛 I hope it does stop people obsessing about reality TV, I can’t stand most of it, although I do have to admit to enjoying the occasional show, overall I just see them as black hole society is falling into! 🙂

  8. I loved that they had Caesar explaining stuff like the mines and the tracker jackers. Unlike you though, I was disappointed with Josh Hutcherson, I don’t think he played Peeta well at all which is a shame. I liked the film but I think I need to see it again to decide how much, if that makes sense, haha. Anyway,what you talking about? This is a good review!

    • Yeah it was great, I feel like it really added to the suspence aspects in the scene’s. 🙂
      Ahahaa, to be honest, I had such low expectations of his acting from the trailer, that anything worse than terrible was a happy suprize for me! I thought he did well, all the basics were there, but I agree with you that he still wasn’t totally right either. I think he came across as a very warm induvidual in the books, and I don’t think this transfered to the on-screen Peeta so well. :/
      Going to see it again sounds like a great idea! I think I may have to do that too!
      Haha thank you! I didn’t feel like it was at the time I wrote it, but then I’m much less confident doing film reviews than I am doing book reviews, I feel slightly out of my element! 🙂

      • Or should I say Caesar and Dobby telling us 😛
        Haha, I’m glad he wasn;t as bad as he was in the trailer. He wasn’t bad all the way through, just at certain parts and definitely when he was injured and in the cave.
        Haha, it should make things clearer, hopefully! There might be things there that we didn’t appreciate before.
        Not to worry, it doesn’t come across like that at all , and if you feel out of your element again just think that films and books are basically the same thing, they’re both stories with characters and plots, the only difference is that a film doesn’t require your imagination. Hopefully that’ll be of some sort of help if you need it!

      • Haha 🙂 Oh gosh yeah the cave scene’s were really cringe worthey! It was so akward, not how I pictured it in the book at all! I know she was mainly doing it because of the message from Haymitch but she was at some point, still supposed to feel an emotional connection, and I didn’t really get that impression in the film. I think Peeta’s acting pre-games was much better than during the games.
        It doesn’t? Phew! That’s good to know! Thanks for the advice, that’s a great way to look at it. I suppose I tend to feel more out of my element because I kind of know everything about books, whereas with films I feel like I don’t know enough about what goes on in the making process and behind the scenes, so I somehow feel less qualified to review them if that makes sense? 🙂

  9. Great review!
    I thought the behind-the-scenes with the gameworkers worked really well too. What a bunch of assholes though, they were really enjoying inflicting suffering on the tributes.
    Do you think they should have shown more of Gale? I don’t think they captured the importance and closeness of the relationshp between Katniss and him, leaving the love triangle looking very weak.
    Overall though the film was great, I may even go as far to say Epic.

    • Haha epic, I love that word. It’s one of those that’s almost onomatopoeia, the actual word in itself looks epic! 🙂
      I thought it was fantastic too, and really inventive to see the producers ideas of how they thought the game would have been created. Plus like you said, the fact that they controlled these life threatening events as if they were just sitting there playing a game of tetris was horrirying and infuriating!

      Hmmm….I’m not too sure on that one. I do think that they could have established their relationship better, especially how close they were as you’ve mentioned. But at the same time I don’t think they could have given over any more screen time to Katniss’ life outside the games, or they would have had to cut out something else that was really important. I wish they could have, but at the same time I think they did a really good job with the little time they did have by showing how they could comfortably sit together, quick searching glances, and the way Gale wraped his arm round her when the hovercraft appeared. 🙂
      I take it your a Gale fan rather than a Peeta one? 😛

      • It’s funny, in the books I preferred Gale to Peeta, at least in the first one but seeing Peeta brought to life on screen I’ve changed my mind. I’m Team Peeta now. How fickle am I? 🙂

    • Ahaha, you poor thing! Nobody should be denied The Hunger Games! I’m so glad to find another fan of this great series 🙂 I hope you’re not disappointed by the film.
      Thank you! 🙂

  10. Ok firstly, you have nothing to worry about! this is a great review and shows your excitement and enthusiasm for the movie! (which was how I felt too haha) I thought a lot of the same things you did in terms of things like the significance of the gesture, changing the story of the mockingjay pin and the avox girl. Also when Katniss and peeta have that argument and she tricks him so she can go to get the medicine – in the book alot more is made of it and in the movie she just walks out and I was like ‘whaaaaaat?!’ and I think they could’ve made a bit more of the romance side – as they do kiss quite a bit in the books, but as it is it’s definitely a great balance.
    I thought the movie was very true to the book as well, especially in terms of the events and the fact that not a lot seemed to be missing. I loved how the film was done, how it looked, the choice of actors and how they styled them couldn’t have been better, and the whole seeing the mechanics of the arena was a good touch. So I totally agree with you! Great film and great books x

    • Haha, ok if you say so! Thanks 🙂
      I’m glad that I’m not the only one who felt this way, I was concerned that I was nitpicking a little too much because I’m such a fan of the books, I tried to put myself in the perspective of someone who had never read them, but I just couldn’t help comparing!
      I agree with what you’ve said about the cave scene, 🙂 it all happened too fast, in a perfect world for me the film would be longer, but I know that would probably put a lot of other people off.
      Gosh yeah the look was amazing! The contrast between the Capitol and the Districs was perfect, in fact District 12 almost looked like a concertration camp in comparison.
      I’m glad you agree, and thanks for commenting, always great to hear from you! 🙂

      • haha no problem 🙂 yeah I know what you mean! I thought that too! it reminded me of that plus a more ridiculously extreme version of I’m a celebrity get me out of here! haha. Aww no problem hun, Thank you! 🙂

      • Hehe, it’s funny you mention that, I think on my Hunger Games book review I said that it was a comnination of I’m a Celeb and gladiators. Great minds think alike! 🙂

  11. I enjoyed reading your review. I’m eventually going to read the books because everyone talks about how great they are. But from what I’ve read, I think the first movie did a great job of bringing the book to life.

    • I am happy to hear that you enjoyed it. 🙂

      I’m glad to hear that, they are definitely worth checking out, even if you have seen the movie. Don’t be but off by all the crazy fans that are hyping it up. 🙂

  12. Oh I think this was a great review and you’ve hit almost the exact same points I did. 🙂 My only problem with the movie, something I completely forgot to write in my review mhm, was that they didn’t stick with the original ending, on the train paltform, Katniss and Peeta talking. I mean, the book’s ending is so much more clear in terms of what the relationship between Kat and Peeta is, at that time. Whereas the ending of the movie, for someone who hasn’t read the books, might be misleading. Otherwise an excellent film. 🙂

    • Thank you very much 🙂 I enjoyed reading your review as well, and I agree with your comments on the camera work, it is personal taste.
      Ooohh, your so right! I thought that too, it just suddenly came to a huge halt, and it wasn’t clear at all. But I’m sure that they will clear it all up in the next film Catching Fire for the viewers, which I will be eagerly anticipating!

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