Movie Review: ‘The Hunger Games’

The TV Guide

Yesterday afternoon I was invited to an early IMAX screening of The Hunger Games, which is TRULY one of the most talked about, most anticipated films of the year. As a HUGE fan of the books, I have been anxiously awaiting my chance to see this big screen film version in the hopes that the movie will be able to do justice the brilliant novel written by Suzanne Collins. While some changes to the original story had to be made for the film version, I am EXCEEDINGLY pleased to tell you all right now that the film version of The Hunger Games is an absolutely stunning live adaptation of the original book. I will do my best to keep my comments spoiler-free but you can read my full movie review below.


Without question, the reason that The Hunger Games is a worldwide phenomenon is because author Suzanne Collins created a vivid, poignant, intense story that is aimed at “young readers” but resonates with both young and older readers. I was so taken with Collins‘s Hunger Games novels that I could see the action as it took place in my mind’s eye. The trick with a film version of the book is how well the director and actors can approximate all of the wonderful images the reader was able to conjure up in their imagination. I am very confident in telling you now that this film version of The Hunger Games just gets it SO right. The cast is absolutely stunning in this film. The 3 young lead actors — Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth (to an extent) — truly became the characters. But I have to say, Elizabeth Banks‘s performance as Effie Trinket was often the scene stealer. Donald Sutherland‘s President Snow, Wes Bentley‘s Seneca Crane and Lenny Kravitz‘s Cinna were all very strong characters … of course, they could not be fleshed out properly in a 2 1/2 hour movie but they are an excellent approximation of their rich book incarnations. As always, there have to be changes in film versions of books but I promise, none of the changes at all affect the overall enjoyment of the story. I was very impressed with the direction of the film. For the first half, action takes place prior to the actual Hunger Games … the stark desolation of District 12 is so … palpable, you can almost hear a pin drop in some of the scenes with long silences (only Effie‘s excited and spirited voice can break the awkward silence). I noticed that there is not a lot of (if any) background music used in the first half, pre-Hunger Games portion of the film. The lack of music really added to feeling of solace and emptiness that is conveyed by a desperate setting like District 12. For me, the movie felt like 2 halves … pre-Games and during-Games. I can’t even tell you which part I liked most. Yes, the action and suspense of the action that takes place during the Games is gripping … but the emotional pounding we get before the Games is just … wow … also intense. I’m not going to lie, I felt pangs of heartbreak in my chest in various parts of the film … and I may have teared up a few times (I’m not even sure who made me cry more, Prim or Rue). That’s a good film, y’all … one that can make you FEEL something physically. I generally am not impressed with film adaptations of books but I was HUGELY impressed with this one. The spirit of the book is alive and very well in this film. Yes, we get a condensed version of all of the action that takes place in the book but the 2 1/2 hours of screentime is used very, very well. There is NO HINT of what’s to come at all in the forthcoming sequel films … which is good for those of you who have not read the books, I think. I am really anxious to see this film again. David and I will be going on Friday night. He has never read the books so I’m curious to see how he responds to the film not knowing anything about the overall plot of the story.

Trust me on this, Hunger Games fans, this movie will satisfy you. I felt it … I felt the power of the books as I watched this film. I suspect The Hunger Games will make a lot of fans very, very happy.

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  1. Joon

    I just bought my tickets today for Saturday night! I am so excited, I can’t wait!

  2. Brayden

    Does it just after the Games or do we get to go back to the Seam? I’m DYING!!!!

    • @Brayden — I’m hesitant to say how the film ends, exactly. There is no cliffhanger, if that’s what you’re asking. I will say we do see Gale, Prim and Katniss’s mother again after she says goodbye to them before she heads off to the Capitol.

    • Brayden

      That’s all I wanted to know. Didn’t know if it ended at the … well you know what part I’m trying to avoid I’m sure.

  3. Brianna

    I may have hit refresh no less that 200 times anxiously awaiting your take on this film. Thanks for the review!

  4. Caroline

    I’m also eager to hear what David has to say about it since he hasn’t read the books. I wonder if it will still be as intense/magical for him? Can’t wait to see it! I’ve been listening to the soundtrack all day!

  5. I will say that I am solely hyped for this movie because of this website. I have my movie ticket for Monday evening (will be out of town for the weekend) and I will have the same perspective as David. I’ve never read the book, a summary, nothing. I’m not even really sure what the plot is…lol. The only thing I know about this series is what Trent has wrote about, but I am looking forward to it.

  6. Rachael

    WOO HOOOOO YAY!!!! SOO relieved that you loved it, since I know you are as huge a fan of the books as I am. I have my tix for the midnight showing on Thursday and I CANNOT WAIT!!!!

  7. Aaah! I’m dying! I can’t wait until Friday! I’m so glad you liked it. I was very anxiously awaiting your review. Thank you!

  8. ah! yes! I am so excited to see this, so glad you enjoyed it!

  9. John

    That review gave me goosebumps man! Now ive gone from “looks cool” to “im gonna watch that shit fo sho!”

  10. Bella Grace

    Can not wait to see this!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. rome

    I got my tickets for the midnight showing on Thursday!!!! woo hoo!!! Can’t wait!!!! Rave reviews from movie critics so far!!!! Woo hoo!!!

  12. Maddiej

    So glad to read all the positive reviews. Yours, of course was my favorite because it came from a fellow super fan! Going to pee my pants with excitement!

  13. Tracy

    Damn Trent you made me cry reading your review of the movie…Damn your good.

  14. dee

    Man that is such great news! I am counting down the minutes to see this movie!!

  15. Megan

    ‘Liam Hemsworth (to an extent)’ as in he wasn’t as good as the other two or we just did not see him enough for his to shine?

    • @Megan — “we just did not see him enough for his to shine?” Yes, exactly. There’s not enough of him to really shine, his time will come tho :)

  16. Zeke

    THANKS A LOT, Trent! I can’t wait to see this movie. The book is soooooo good. I’m so happy to read the movie does it justice

  17. Your review as a fan has meant more than the many others I’ve already read. Thank you!

  18. Kristen

    I know you were quite hesitant when Josh was cast as Peeta and I was wondering if the film changed your mind?

  19. Amanda

    I got goosebumps just reading your review. Im going to see it at 10:45pm Friday night. I cant wait to see this. I got my MockingJay pin ready togo :) I think Im more excited about this then I ever was about the Twilight movies and Im a huge fan of them. Let us know what David thinks of the movie asI would like to see what someone thinks about the story that hasnt read the book.

  20. splacer

    Squeeeee!

    We are hoping to go Sunday evening. My partner, his son and I are all Hunger Games (books) fans so it will be a family affair! I am almost as excited for this as I was about the Harry Potter movies.

  21. I’m an old gizzer, so I am not enthralled with all the hype regaring the book and this movie. However, I would like to know the premis of the book and why it was such a blockbuster! I gather, the theme resonated with the young crowd, again: why? Does it point to a moral compass or the lack thereof? Just sak’in.

    • @pscheck2 — “I gather, the theme resonated with the young crowd,” the book was just marketed as a young adult novel.

    • Krissy

      IMO, it resonated because 1.) There is a incredibly STRONG female lead character. Her bravery and nobility in her priorities are awe inspiring. 2.) It is a series that is about more than the superficial. It is about revolution, and you just have no idea where it is going to go. That makes it much more engaging than a boy-meets-girl type series where the biggest obstacle is “does he like me as much as I like him?” type crap.

  22. Shazzer

    I completely agree with you Trent. I am extremely happy with how the film turned out. I laughed, I cried, I cheered (as did much of the audience) at many points.

    One of my favorite scenes was when Katniss is about to enter the games. Jennifer Lawrence did such an amazing job there. It was so subtle, but so effective. It really made me well up just imagining what she’s thinking and how Cinna is there for her during that time. It was beautiful.

    I’m curious to hear what David thinks having not read the books. Please let us know!

  23. Iheartaustin

    Im so excited for this movie! The books officially beat Harry Potter as my all time favorite YA book series and on the whole I was only semi impressed with the movie adaptations of HP! So I have high hopes for The Hunger Games I’m getting my tickets today!!

  24. Jae

    Soooo excited to see this movie on Friday! And to know that you thoroughly enjoyed it makes me feel really good going into it! =)

  25. Elyse

    Eek!! I am SO glad you loved it, I am seeing it Friday night and hanging out for it!! I loved the books and can’t wait to see how it’s been transformed. Hooray!!

  26. CHASE

    I liked it a lot! I didn’t love it, though. I felt like there was something…missing… But yeah, overall the acting was great. My two biggest complaints: Woody Harrelson and Lenny Kravitz. First of all, in my opinion, Woody is so NOT Haymitch. At all. Such a miscast. I felt like Woody was trying his best to be Haymitch but I couldn’t get into his character whatsoever; it felt really contrived. He was funny here and there, but ultimately he wasn’t Haymitch nor for one second did I believe him as Haymitch. Lenny pulled off the cool factor of Cinna, but lacked heart. I believe it’s mostly due to lack of character development but it just made me feel, like, ‘whatever’ about his portrayal. Jennifer was fantastic, Josh was good, and Liam was decent. It’s definitely a different type of movie and it felt lengthy at times and short in others. I totally dig Elizabeth as Effie; she was fantastic. I also teared up when Rue passed. Solid B.

    • Nat

      I also wish there had been more depth to the characters,in particular Haymitch and also Katniss.I’m a bit confused why they would only scratch the surface when this whole story line is about characters,the choices they face and dealing with things they cannot control.Most of the tributes didn’t even get identified,or have their district mentioned-so when they all #### I’m not really affected…I hardly knew them,if at all!But in the end my daughter and her friend both loved it,they were ok with the changes and we talked about the movie…any movie/book that can do that is worth watching.

    • @Nat — “I’m a bit confused why they would only scratch the surface when this whole story line” Movie time constraints. There is no way any film can ever accurately portray all of the action and story development of a book. When you make a film, you have to sacrifice some detail in lieu of other more important detail.

  27. Chivonne

    I’m so worried I’ll be let down

  28. Jo

    i cried when Rue died. I am such a big baby.

  29. I saw the Hunger Games movie a few days back!!!
    I’m a huge fan of the books and I really loved the movie!!! :)
    I wrote a review about it on my blog:

    poppy-seed-flower.blogspot.com

  30. Lacey

    I read all of the books within a week, and am going to see the movie tomorrow, so excited! I was so releived when you gave it a good review, I know I won’t be let down by the movie.

    Now to hear about Catching Fire casting news? I really want to know who will play Finnick! Waiting until Nov 2013 may be the death of me.

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