Crazy To Miss: THE HUNGER GAMES
Synopsis: Summary: Every year in the ruins of what was once North America, the evil Capitol of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games. A twisted punishment for a past uprising and an ongoing government intimidation tactic, The Hunger Games are a nationally televised event in which “Tributes” must fight with one another until one survivor remains. Pitted against highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives, Katniss is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts as well as the mentorship of drunken former victor Haymitch Abernathy. If she’s ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love. (Lionsgate)
CRITIC CONSENSUS: CRAZY TO MISS
An effective entertainment, and Jennifer Lawrence is strong and convincing in the central role. But the film leapfrogs obvious questions in its path, and avoids the opportunities sci-fi provides for social criticism.
The Hunger Games represents the best first book adaptation of any of the three series. It surpasses Christopher Columbus’ “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone” by a whisker and Catherine Hardwicke’s “Twilight” by considerably more than that.
My advice is to keep your eyes on Lawrence, who turns the movie into a victory by presenting a heroine propelled by principle instead of hooking up with the cutest boy.
A muscular, honorable, unflinching translation of Collins’ vision. It’s brutal where it needs to be, particularly when children fight and bleed.
Making a successful Hunger Games movie out of Suzanne Collins’ novel required casting the best possible performer as Katniss, and in Jennifer Lawrence director Gary Ross and company have hit the bull’s-eye, so to speak.
The Hunger Games is first and foremost an adventure/survival story, and director Ross keeps things moving with nary a moment of downtime. There’s precious little fat on the script; it’s a lean, mean antifascist machine, and Lawrence is at once winsome and spectacularly engaging as Katniss (so much so that all her male costars pale into near-blandness in comparison).
What The Hunger Games does have is a game cast, a large budget well spent, Collins on board as co-writer, and Lawrence as Katniss.
In The Hunger Games it’s both a feast of cheesy spectacle and a famine of genuine feeling, except for the powerful – and touchingly vulnerable – presence of Jennifer Lawrence.
It also smells very much like a movie with money on its mind – not altogether successfully balancing its loftier ideas with a sense of superficial whimsy and Vegas-meets-Wizard of Oz production design.
The Hunger Games takes no risks.
Where Collins’ book paid careful attention to detail, Ross pays far too little. Characters never become exhausted or desperate or gaunt; they don’t even get chapped lips or broken nails.
You can imagine a better adaptation of The Hunger Games, but you can much more easily imagine a far worse one, and all in all that’s not a bad outcome.
When the goal is simply to be as faithful as possible to the material – as if a movie were a marriage, and a rights contract the vow – the best result is a skillful abridgment, one that hits all the important marks without losing anything egregious. And as abridgments go, they don’t get much more skillful than this one.
A film that transforms a popular work of teen fiction not just by faithfully exploring its themes but, more important, by proving those themes have a very grown-up resonance.
As she did in her breakthrough film Winter’s Bone, Jennifer Lawrence anchors this futuristic and politicized elaboration of The Most Dangerous Game with impressive gravity and presence, while director Gary Ross gets enough of what matters in the book up on the screen to satisfy its legions of fans worldwide.
The games have begun, and so far they’re pretty gripping.
The Hunger Games has some cool moments here and there, and is never entirely dreadful. Lawrence is both radiant and triumphant. They haven’t screwed it up badly enough to kill it, although they’ve tried.
If the series’s legions of fans miss a detail here or a sub-plot there, they’ll still recognize its bones and sinew, especially in Jennifer Lawrence’s eagle-eyed heroine Katniss Everdeen.
The Hunger Games may be derivative, but it is engrossing and at times exciting. Implicitly, it argues that “The Truman Show” might have been improved by Ed Harris lobbing fireballs at Jim Carrey, and it’s now clear what “American Idol” was missing all those years: a crossbow for Simon Cowell.
Again and again Katniss rescues herself with resourcefulness, guts and true aim, a combination that makes her insistently watchable, despite Mr. Ross’s soft touch and Ms. Lawrence’s bland performance.
Can The Hunger Games, in the movie version directed by Gary Ross, successfully navigate the crossing from page to screen? Our answer: Eh.
As tough-spirited as fans would hope for – and exciting and thought-provoking in a way few adventure dramas ever are.
Watching The Hunger Games, I was struck both by how slickly Ross hit his marks and how many opportunities he was missing to take the film to the next level – to make it more shocking, lyrical, crazy, daring.
The Hunger Games is dressed as a dark satire of soulless entertainment, but like Katniss’ adversaries in the PG-13 hunting scenes, it doesn’t have a distinctive identity or go-for-the-throat.
A watchable enough picture that feels content to realize someone else’s vision rather than claim it as its own. Any real sense of risk has been carefully ironed out: The PG-13 rating that ensures the film’s suitability for its target audience also blunts the impact of the teen-on-teen bloodshed.
If the movie had a lead actress more delicate or malleable than the strong-cheeked Lawrence-a Natalie Portman, say-it would tip over into sexy-girl-killer celebration; the same goes for Harrelson’s salty mentor, who is never too supportive or paternal. Both performers lean into the economies of survival, certain of the savagery that lies ahead, and come up with sharp work.
Leaner than “Harry Potter’s” adventures, meaner than the “Twilight” saga, The Hunger Games lives up to its source if not entirely the hype.
There’s action here, too, and a great deal of vitality that feels true both to the spirit of Collins’ book and to the idea of movie entertainment as it exists.
Lawrence is a tremendous talent, and she is what makes The Hunger Games ultimately worth spending time with. She doesn’t elevate the film to the heights to which one might have wanted, but she takes it a lot higher than it would have otherwise risen.
This futuristic tale of teenage violence is so not my kind of movie that I approached it grudgingly, so imagine my surprise when I ended up being totally exhilarated and enjoying it immensely.
Like the pacing of the novel, the film, even at almost two and a half hours, moves briskly, continuously drawing us in.
This is better than any of the “Twilights.” It features a functioning creative imagination and lots of honest-to-goodness acting by its star, Jennifer Lawrence.
Director Gary Ross’ adaptation, co-scripted by Collins herself, isn’t quite as crackingly paced as the novel, but it will more than satisfy existing fans of the trilogy and likely create many new ones.
As thrilling and smart as it is terrifying. There have been a number of big-gun literary series brought to screen over the past decade. This slays them all.
The action is brisk, the acting is solid, and barring an unlikely failure at the box office, a franchise is born. Let the games begin.
The Hunger Games is more notable for the holes it doesn’t fall into than the great heights it reaches.
What’s remarkable is the lack of cheese. Tacky effects, corny dialogue and creaky performances are all shown the door. We repeat: not the new “Twilight”.
The Hunger Games is that rarest of beasts: a Hollywood action blockbuster that is smart, taut and knotty. Ably filleted from the Suzanne Collins bestseller, it’s a compelling, lightly satirical tale.
Director Gary Ross (Pleasantville) generally avoids the elaborate exterior shots and special effects that dominate high-concept blockbusters.
Reviewed by: James Rocchi
As action, as allegory, as cinema, The Hunger Games is the best American science-fiction film since “The Matrix,” and if Ross and his crew stay with the series for the next two books, we may get that rarest of things: a blockbuster franchise that earns our money through craft, emotion and execution, not merely marketing and effects.
Source : MetaCritic
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Editor in chief at www.crazymoviepeople.com . . . Probably need to work on getting a life.