For Reel

The Hunger Games (2012)
April 10, 2012, 3:09 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Gary Ross

With Suzanne Collins’ straight-forward, highly descriptive style of writing, The Hunger Games read as a film outline as much as it did a novel. It is no surprise, then, that much of Gary Ross’ adaptation is devoutly true to the book – in some cases, in fact, the plot resonates more clearly (a well-timed riot provides the audience with much-needed external context). However, while the early sequences in District 12 are wisely accomplished with a gritty, naturalistic style that conveys a palpable sense of dread, much of the titular games lack the novel’s sense of momentum due to Ross’ failure in visualizing Katniss’ struggle. Collins, to her credit, takes a fair amount of time to explore the moral conflict within Katniss – but, as much of this is interior, it is largely lost on the screen, even with the boost given by Jennifer Lawrence’s able performance. Lazy screenwriting devices such as a Sports Center-like commentary track and a look at the technicians behind the game further illustrates Ross’ inability to cinematically convey the more troubling expository moments of the book (to his credit, however, an unconvincing love triangle in the book is slightly improved in the adaptation). Although The Hunger Games, on the page, isn’t risk-taking enough in its content or politics to produce a faithful adaptation that completely satisfies all audiences, a more inventive director might have better accentuated the novel’s strengths.

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