Directed by: Gary Ross
Written by: Gary Ross, Suzanne Collins, Billy Ray
Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Wes Bentley, Stanley Tucci
This dystopian story takes place in the country of Panem, where as a punishment and a reminder of the past rebellion by the Districts against the Capitol, the annual Hunger Games were started. Two tributes - a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 - are chosen at the Reaping by lottery from each of the twelve Districts. The sixteen-year-old protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, volunteers to go instead of her twelve-year-old sister, whose name was drawn during the Reaping.
Casting Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss was a great decision - it was evident already from the trailers. She doesn't disappoint for a second and brings incredible strength and intensity to Katniss. There is something especially visceral about her performance and it comes from a true place. The Reaping scene is one of the more powerful in the movie, as Katniss screams "I volunteer!" to take part in the Games instead of her sister. It is followed by the equally emotionally charged moment, where the people of District 12 salute Katniss in a silent acknowledgment of her sacrifice. "Emotionally charged" can be easily applied to the whole movie - it never lets you catch a break, just like the book.
The minimal use of soundtrack turned out to be very effective. After all, silence is sometimes more powerful, as is obvious in the Reaping scene. The "shaking camera" style of cinematography only enhanced the experience, making the action look more urgent and realistic - the combination this story required. The editing was very effective as well, especially in the opening scenes showing the life in District 12, and later on, during the Games, in the sequence where Katniss is hallucinating after being stabbed by the tracker jackers.
The Hunger Games in the movie are an ultimate reality show with a touch of gladiator fights - an interesting reflection on our age of obsession with the reality TV. There are many layers to be uncovered and interpreted, and it's great that The Hunger Games seemed to find that balanced combination of action and meaning, only securing its success. Part of that success, it seems to me, is also that it somehow resonates with our ever-changing times.
May the odds be ever in your favor.