Bon Appétit

“The Hunger Games” fans were starving for the book’s film adaptation, and I for one can say my appetite has been satisfied. More than satisfied. I’ve watched the movie four times and each time fell more in love with it.

Two and a half hours seems lengthy for a film, but “The Hunger Games” moved at a steady, comfortable pace and by the end of the movie, I couldn’t believe that much time had passed. There’s enough time for viewers, whether they read the books or not, to grasp the plot. However, no scenes were too long.

Since Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) narrates the book through the first person, I was worried how this would be shown without Lawrence’s voiceovers. Director Gary Ross incorporated these elements in a very successful way which deemed narrations unnecessary. Memories of Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) throwing Katniss a loaf of bread are strategically slipped into the early scenes. In the books, Katniss explains that the Gamemakers create the wildfires and beastly dogs, but the movie shows scenes of the Gamemakers controlling these events “behind-the-scenes.”

The film’s casting was spot-on. The actors and actresses portrayed their parts well: Lawrence was the brave, strong (both mentally and physically), stubborn and protective Katniss and Hutcherson, the humble, romantic Peeta. Cinna (Lenny Kravitz) was Katniss’s caring mentor, while Haymitch (Woody Harrelson) began as her drunk, unconcerned mentor. Haymitch eventually became essential to Katniss and Peeta’s survival. He also provided comic relief to the movie with just a few lines and actions (for example, giving a thumbs up to Katniss after she shoots the arrow at the Gamemakers).

The cinematography throughout the film was beautiful. I am certainly one for artistic angles and dramatic lighting and Ross utilized these elements very tastefully. Right from the first scene with Katniss and her sister Primrose (Willow Sheilds), the camera zooms in on the two girls hugging, bringing out their troubled emotions. Scenes in the woods are filmed with a shaky hand, creating movement, excitement and suspense. Conversations are shot with multiple views, perfectly capturing each character’s reactions.

The score, composed by James Newton Howard, was also absolutely flawless. The instrumental pieces were excellent decisions, as words likely would have taken away from what was going on in the film at that moment. Soft, smooth, cool songs are the background to much of the film. They’re just subtle enough so you’re not paying too much attention to the music, but it’s still there. The theme for show host Caesar Flickerman (Stanley Tucci) is incredible (“War” performed by the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble). Contrasting with the rest of the score, it’s powerful and exciting, and brings the right energy to Caesar, the show and the studio audience.

It isn’t an easy task to transform a book into a movie and to stay true to the story, but Ross was able to make this adaptation a huge success.